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Red Wing freshman Nora Hanson is all smiles after crossing the finish line as the winner of the Big 9 conference championship meet at Brooktree Golf Course on Oct. 18. Martin Schlegel / Republican Eagle

At the beginning of the race Red Wing freshman Nora Hanson found herself leading. No one was near her for most of the race. She widened the gap little by little, eventually coming across the finish line well ahead of the pack.

Leading like that wasn’t her plan or anticipated.

“I really had to push myself running on my own and sometimes I struggle with that. Today, I thought I did a great job pushing myself,” Hanson said.

Hanson blew past the competition at the Big 9 conference championship at Brooktree Golf Course in Owatonna on Tuesday, winning the 5,000-meter race in 18 minutes, 49.33 seconds. She was the only one to run the race in under 19 minutes and beat second place by close to 13 seconds. Her strategy leading up to the race was more measured and prepared than at this point last year leading into last year’s Big 9 championships.

“Today was much windier. The finish was so windy. My eyes were watering,” Hanson said when asked about the difference from a year ago. “There's so many fast (runners) here. This year, (the race) felt shorter, but I also felt so much stronger this year. I've been training way harder.”

Last season, Hanson finished in second place and had a time of 19:26.85. She set a new personal best time Tuesday.

“It's easier to PR (when you are running alone),” she said.

Annika Johnson finished 31st with a PR time of 20:26.17. Bryn Guse came in 48th with a time of 21:37.35, a PR for her. Elaina Borgschatz had a season-best time of 22:45.89. Emme Hattemer ran the race in 23:28.66 in 74th and Alyssa Rippentrop ended in 80th with a time of 24:17.35. Hattemer and Rippentrop each ran PR times.

The Winger girls team earned eighth place.

Aaron Freier led Red Wing in the boys race with a PR time of 17:02.62 to earn 17th place. Rylan Bennyhoff came in 48th with a time of 17:45.69. Isaiah Ricks ran in 55th with a time of 18:02.70. David Lexvold ran in 71st with a time of 18:33.66. Jackson Plein came in 75th, running the race in 18:48.47. All four achieved PR times.

Also running the race and setting a PR was Dylan Overman (19:27.03) and Eli Hanlin (19:28.65).

The Winger boys earned 11th place.

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