BAXTER — Sarah Yeh was one off last year.
That wasn’t the case Tuesday as the senior ran an eighth-place time of 15:24.3 to earn All-Central Lakes Conference honors and lead the Brainerd Warriors to fourth at Forestview Middle School.
Last season, Yeh was just getting back into competitive form after a string of illnesses kept her out of the lineup. She finished 16th, one place away from all-conference distinction.
This year, Yeh has been strong all season and she continued that Tuesday.
“I wanted to make all-conference with it being my senior year,” she said. “Then I wanted to be under 15:30, 15:20. Which, I was 15:24, I think, so it was close and with the conditions today I can live with that.
“I just went out at a pretty fast pace and just tried to get in a good position in the pack in the first 800 meters. Then I just tried to pick people off for the next mile or so and bring it home the last half-mile.”
Yeh wasn’t the only Warrior to earn all-conference distinction as freshman Ali Crochet ran a 13th-place time of 15:46.9.
“I’m very proud of the way our girls competed, especially our seniors Sarah and Maria (West),” said Warrior head coach Dave Herath. “This is a very tough conference. It was really nice for us to continue to get closer to Alexandria and Sartell. It was just a really good effort.
“I’m very happy for Sarah and Ali. To be all-conference in this conference this year is a very big thing for both of them.”
The top 15 runners earn all-conference with 16-25 claiming honorable mention distinction. That’s where West placed as she finished with a 19th-place time of 16:09.3.
Junior Lydia Herath was 26th. Junior Sara Whiteman finished 35th and sophomore Carina Figliuzzi placed 36th with senior Abby Selisker in 39th.
“We knew that we would have to pack it up so all the girls could be as close as possible,” Yeh said. “Our goal has been to have all the girls within 25-30 seconds. Basically it’s just see the leader, tag on to the leader and pack them together as much as we can to break up other teams.”
Nobody could break up Willmar as the Cardinals won the team title with 34 points. The Cardinals’ top five runners were all all-conference.
And nobody was challenging Alexandria’s Hasz sisters. The twins finished first and second with Megan Hasz, winning in 13:52.4 and Bethany Hasz second in 13:53.3. Everybody else was at least a minute behind.
“We all know that they are ranked in state and they are elite runners so just knowing them you can let them go ahead and do their own thing,” Yeh said. “I know I can’t do that. I can’t go out that fast and bring it home. I know that ahead of time. It’s not like I’m surprised by what they’re doing in that respect.”
Instead, Yeh and the rest of the Warriors concentrated on finishing strong and not letting the weather get to them.
“When we told the girls what the forecast was going to be they were all pretty happy,” said Warriors head coach Dave Herath. “They like cooler temperatures. Our girls are kind of mudders. So the goal for us today was to finish strong. For the last 800 to 1,000 meters we wanted to bring it home strong. By and large we did a nice job with that.”
Team scores: 1-Willmar 34, 2-Sartell 62, 3-Alexandria 70, 4-Brainerd 101, 5-Rocori 114, 6-St. Cloud Tech 142, 7-Fergus Falls 201, 8-St. Cloud Apollo 247, 9-Sauk Rapids 255
Individual winner: Megan Hasz (Alexandria) 13:52.4
Brainerd results: 8-Sarah Yeh 15:24.3, 13-Ali Crochet 15:46.9, 19-Maria West 16:09.3, 26-Lydia Herath 16:29.2, 35-Sara Whiteman 17:00.4, 36-Carina Figliuzzi 17:02.1, 39-Aby Selisker 17:16.9