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Runners win two conference titles: Boys capture first EDC crown ever

Packer cross country coach Joe Bailey was watching his girls' team run for the EDC cross country team title when he found out his boys' team had been declared the winner of the just-completed boys' race.

In fact, both races were so close, it was hard to know that the Packer boys and girls had won conference titles until the results were checked, double checked and checked again.

"We sat around for quite a long time until we were sure with the boys," said Bailey. "I didn't know for sure that the girls had won until they read the team titles later."

Both Packer teams won conference crowns by only three points each - both teams also placed six runners on the all-EDC teams. Only five runners work into the actual team point totals, meaning both West Fargo teams had a spare runner named all-conference that didn't even figure into scoring. Having 12 all-conference runners from West Fargo is a school record.

It was the girls' second EDC title in a row, and believed to be the first boys' championship ever. The Packer boys won state in 1989 but lost EDC to Jamestown that year.

"That was probably the best moment of my cross country career," said EDC runner-up Jamison Gehrig. "It was really exciting to have both of our teams win like that."

While Gehrig, a junior, was recovering from his second place finish, freshman Alissa Mears was making it look easy, winning the girls race by nearly 15 seconds. The victory continues Mears' undefeated season; she's won all nine races she's run so far this fall.

"I took off right away. That's normally how I'll start so I can get out right away," said Mears. "I did look back a couple times when I took some sharp turns so I could decide what I needed to do. I was kind of scared, because it looked like they were getting closer."

The Packer girls were boosted for the second time this season by eighth-grader Jessica Rosenau. Competing in only her second varsity race ever, Rosenau finished in 10th place. West Fargo would not have won without her performance.

"She was doing so well in middle school, but it didn't look like she was running to her full potential in those shorter races. It looked like she could keep running. She was a very big part for us at EDC," said Bailey.

West Fargo's all-EDC girls runners include: Mears (1st), sophomore Britny Bucholz (4th), eighth-grader Christine Baltezore (5th), junior Ellie Grooters (8th), Rosenau (10th) and junior Hillary Olheiser (20th). Bailey was named the EDC girls coach of the year.

West Fargo's all EDC boys runners include: Gehrig (2nd), junior Spencer Uetz (8th), sophomore Nate Peterson (17th), junior Scott Salter (18th), sophomore Lukas Johnson (19th) and eighth-grader Darin Baltezore (20th).

Gehrig and Uetz, all-conference runners last season, were expected to finish near the top at EDC again. It was the performance of the four West Fargo runners finishing together in 17th through 20th place that sealed the EDC crown for the boys. The quartet finished within eight seconds of one another. Additionally, sophomore Josh Hanson finished 26th, adding two points to second-place Fargo North's point total.

"When I saw them all finishing like that together, I was really proud of them whether we were going to win or not," said Bailey.

Results from yesterday's Fargo South Invite were not available before press time. The Packers compete in the state meet in Jamestown on Oct. 25.