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Mahar, Nowacki lead East Grand Forks to cross country title

Cole Nowacki's teammates have caught up to him. Tyson Mahar took first and Nowacki second, leading East Grand Forks Senior High to the team title at its own invitational cross country meet Thursday at Valley Golf Course. The Wave finished with 25...

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Crookston's Katherine Geist takes an early lead on her way to winning the East Grand Forks Invitational on Thursday at Valley Golf Course in East Grand Forks. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Cole Nowacki's teammates have caught up to him.

Tyson Mahar took first and Nowacki second, leading East Grand Forks Senior High to the team title at its own invitational cross country meet Thursday at Valley Golf Course. The Wave finished with 25 points, beating runner-up Roseau by 40.

Senior High also won the girls division with 32 points, followed by Winnipeg St. Mary’s Academy with 56.

Two years ago, Nowacki was the first Green Wave runner to cross the finish line in every race. Last season, Nowacki led the Wave in 10 of their 12 meets, with Mahar beating him twice.

This season, Mahar already has beaten Nowacki three times and Sakariye Ismail also has edged Nowacki in one meet.

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"I'm glad its people from your own team beating you rather than having somebody from another team beating any of us,'' Nowacki said.

"We've been training together. We've all been doing well. They put in a lot of time and miles over the summer. They've earned it.''

That's not to say Nowacki didn't put in offseason mileage. The junior has run faster times in every race this season compared to his 2017 times. The improvement has been significant, as he's cut off 40 or more seconds from a year ago in three meets.

But, likewise, so have Mahar and Ismail improved significantly, as well as Jonathan Kreuger, the Wave's No. 4 runner. All four consistently have been top-10 finishers in races. On Thursday, Ismail finished fourth and Krueger fifth.

"It was very surprising when Cole was beaten (by a teammate) in the past,'' Senior High coach Kirk Misialek said. "But it isn't a surprise any more. On any given day, any one of those top three could beat each other.

"They're friends and supportive of each other. But they want to beat each other. And that helps us beat other teams. When they push each other every day, in practices and meets, that makes all of them better.''

At the Section 8A meet last season, Nowacki finished fourth (18:16.9) and Mahar sixth (18:19.3) to qualify for the state meet. The winning time was a 17:53.5 by Christian Sterton of Ada-Borup/NCW. All four of the Wave's top four runners consistently are beating that time by significant margins.

"Our first four runners are very solid,’’ Misialek said. “We're still looking for somebody to take that fifth spot.''

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In the girls division, Crookston's Katherine Geist continued her dominance. The junior, ranked ninth in this week's Class A state coaches poll, won for the sixth time this season. She's yet to lose a race.

"She's had a fantastic season,'' said Misialek, who also coaches Crookston's runners. "She really hasn't been pushed all season.’’

Lydia Floden finished fourth, McKenna Langerud fifth and marin Garrett seventh to lead Senior High to the title.

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East Grand Forks runners Marin Garrett and McKenna Garrett assist Ada-Borup/NCW Hailey Olson after finishing Thursday's race at Valley Golf Course in East Grand Forks. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

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