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Anderson Leads Eagan In National Cross Country Meet

Mud, rain and obstacles made the slogging difficult, but the Eagan cross county girls team raced to a 19th-place finish in a meet of the nation's best high school runners.

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Eagan’s Danielle Anderson finished 66th in the Nike Cross Country Nationals at Portland Meadows in Portland, Ore.  Saturday.

“It was good, but it was really hard,” said Anderson. “I actually placed better than I thought I might, so that was good. I was expecting somewhere in the 100s. … It was a great way to end the season for sure.”

The event traditionally brings the best high school cross country runners and teams together for an unofficial national championship.

Anderson led the Eagan girls cross country team to a 19th-place team finish in the meet. It was the first time on the national stage for the Eagan girls team.

"It went really well," said Lisa Langenhahn, Eagan cross country coach. "Of course it was really muddy. But they ran fabulously."

Langenhahn was at the meet as a spectator, said Eagan High School Athletic Director Sandra Setter on Friday, because of state high school regulations prohibiting regular season coaches from coaching their teams in the off season.

“In general the whole atmosphere was something to be in awe about,” Langenhahn added. “They were treated very well. The whole experience
was something of a shock.”

The 22-team race was won again by perennial champion Manlius Cross Country Club of New York with 54 points. It was the seventh straight championship for Manlius.

Wayzata was seventh in the girls team race and Eagan 19th in the team race with 395 points.

Sarah Baxter of California won the individual title in 19:17. Wayzata’s Anna French was 19th in 20:10.

Eagan’s seven runners and their times were: Anderson, 66th in 21:02; Kelli
Praska, 110th in 22:00, Raissa Hansen, 137th in 22:30, Karina Johnson, 138th in 22:32, Anna Van Wyk, 158th in 22:56, Olivia  Mitchell, 182nd in 23:33 and Elizabeth Frick was 184th in 23:39.

"We had a lot of fun," said Frick. "It was really, really, really muddy. It was more mud than we’ve ever seen before. "The combination of being here, the mud and the hay bales, all of that together made it hard. But it was a final reward for everything we’ve done this season."

Eagan's Hansen agreed.

"It was really difficult, but fun," she said. "It was way different and the mud made it a lot harder, Everything was mud or puddles or hay bales. There were a lot more things than going on."

The course is designed after an European model to make it more challenging for the runners, Hansen noted.

“We were saying, we haven’t seen anything like this course,” Hansen added.

A total of 194 runners competed in the girls race. Fields of 22 seven-person clubs and an additional 45 individuals (male and female) competed Saturday in the finals.

The Nike Cross Country Nationals is comprised of eight regional qualifying meets and the National Finals in Portland. Following in the tradition of European cross country meets, the nationals event featured a multiple loop race course with man-made obstacles built on the inside of the horse race track at Portland Meadows in Oregon.

Eagan was second in the 18-team race in the Heartland Regional on Nov. 11 in Yankton Trail Park, Sioux Falls, SD. The top teams from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota competed in that meet.

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