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UNC girls capture conference title

  Having seven runners finish in the top-12 spots was the difference as the United North Central girls cross-country team captured the Birchtree Conference title Tuesday at Blueberry Pines.

     UNC and Pequot Lakes tied for first place with 31 points in this five-team conference meet, but the Warriors won the tiebreaker when Erin Olson finished 11th overall to finish ahead of Pequot Lakes’ No. 6 runner, who finished 19th.

     Pequot Lakes’ Caitie Ryan clocked a winning time of 16:50 over the 4,000-meter course and teammate Jackie Brine-Doyle followed in 16:55 before UNC claimed seven of the next 10 spots. Alyssa Peters was third in 16:53, Anna Olson was fourth in 16:58 and Joy Haataja took sixth in 17:09 to earn all-conference honors while Andrea Korvela was eighth in 17:19 and Jen Stifter finished 10th in 17:38 to earn all-conference honorable mention honors and round out the Warriors’ team score. Olson finished 11th in 17:43 for the winning tiebreaker finish while Sarah Kuismi was 12th in 17:57 to round out UNC’s varsity.

     Following UNC and Pequot Lakes were Ottertail Central (90), Pillager (100) and Pine River-Backus (119).

     In the boys race, Ryan Johnson finished 10th in 18:53 to earn all-conference honorable mention honors as UNC finished third with 83 points. OTC won the boys title with 18 points and Pequot Lakes was second with 53 points. Pine River-Backus (106) and Pillager (129) finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

     Rounding out UNC’s team score were Luke Wurdock (13th in 18:55), Joseph Keranen (17th in 19:12), Don Wurdock (26th in 19:56) and Ryan Spandgenske (27th in 20:08). Lars Keranen (28th in 20:14) and Sterling Crabb (29th in 20:27) completed the Warriors’ varsity.

     OTC’s Luke Himmelspach led the field with a winning time of 17:32 over the 5,000-meter course.