LITTLE FALLS -- What was just another race for the Staples-Motley Cardinals girls' cross country team ended on a sour note for the defending Class 1A state champion.
The ultra competitive Cardinals, who aren't accustomed to losing, placed second in the 39th annual Lucky Lindy meet, 13 points behind champion Hopkins.
Unfortunately for upcoming opponents in the Roy Griak meet at the University of Minnesota, one of the biggest high school meets of the season, the Cardinals have payback on their minds.
"We got beat by a really good Hopkins team," S-M coach Gene Mattila said. "We're not crying about it. We'll step back up at the Griak and give them a shot again. The girls have an extremely intense desire to win the state title again and nothing is going to stop them from that."
The Cardinals won the Griak last year, topping a number of ranked Class 2A schools as well as a few out of state national powerhouses. The Griak put the S-M girls on the map and propelled them to their first state title in program history.
Staples Motley Cardinals Hanna Landecker finished fourth as she crossed the finish line of the 39th Lucky Lindy meet in Little Falls Thursday with a time of 15:17. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
"This was just another race for us," S-M's No. 1 runner Hannah Landecker said. "We're really focused on getting our strategy working to build up for the Roy Griak meet because that's the big one of the season."
Landecker paced S-M with a fourth-place finish and a time of 15:17. Landecker, ranked 11th in 1A, was at one point out of the top 10 but never panicked and steadily moved up. She felt her first mile put her in good position in the race.
"We have really been focusing on getting a good first mile," Landecker said. "I got the mile in 5:45, which is what I wanted, and surprisingly I wasn't dead. I was focused on staying up with the Hopkins girls. I knew I had to kick to the end."
Five other Cardinal runners finished in the top 20, with Courtney Robinson 10th and Brittany Brenny 13th. Robinson posted a time of 15:36 while Brenny was at 15:48.
The Brainerd Warrior girls' team has shown promising signs of improvement with a number of runners posting career-best times. Brainerd, which placed seventh with 178 points, has overcome losing its top runner (AshLeigh Hakes) to injury and is moving forward.
"We had four girls under 17 minutes and two years ago we would've been thrilled with that," Warriors coach Dave Herath said. "The expectations get raised and they're really responding. We lacked one of the front-runners. But we packed it together really well."
The Warriors were led by eighth-graders Jenna Dean and Hannah McAllister and junior Katy Posterick. Dean finished 31st with a time of 16:48 while McAllister (16:51) and Posterick (16:52) finished 32nd and 33rd.
"Hannah McAllister was under 17 minutes and Cassie Bahr has never run cross country and she went from 18:03 to 16:57," Herath said. "Katy Posterick had her best time by seven second as well."
1-Hopkins 45, 2-Staples-Motley 58, 3-Fergus Falls 118, 4-Perham 129, 5-Grand Rapids 157, 6-Alexandria 165, 7-Brainerd 178, 8-Bemidji 215, 9-St. Cloud Cathedral 239, 10-St. Cloud Tech 267, 11-Detroit Lakes 298, 12-Wadena-Deer Creek 320, 13-Little Falls 367, 14-St. Cloud Apollo 369, 15-Sauk Rapids 394
Individual medalist -- Hanna Grinaker (DL) 14:24
Brainerd results -- 31-Jenna Dean 16:48, 32-Hanna McAllister 16:51, 33-Katy Posterick 16:52, 36-Kacie Bahr 16:57, 46-Tori Bahr 17:17, 50-Carissa Schmidt 17:23, 61-Hanna Stadem 17:45
Staples-Motley results -- 4-Hannah Landecker 15:17, 10-Courtney Robinson 15:36, 13-Brittany Brenny 15:48, 15-Liza Milless 15:54, 16-Natasha Wenzel 15:57, 20-Naomi Landecker 16:10, 55-Kelsey Griffith 17:29
Little Falls results -- 56-Melissa Kempenich 17:32, 73-Sarah Paycer 18:09, 74-Melanie VanHeel 18:09, 76-Kathryn Rush 18:17, 88-Erin Rioux 18:55, 90-Kari Schilling 19:23
Wadena-Deer Creek results -- 38-Rachel Papillon 17:03, 54-Mary Pate 17:27, 68-Amanda Bristlin 17:57, 71-Michelle Gastecki 18:05, 89-Kendra Hay 19:03, 97-Morgan Paulson 20:50, 98-Amanda McManigle 20:50
TROY GUNDERSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5865.
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