Area Notebook: Former Willmar Cardinals Hanson and Hansen race at D-I Cross-Country Championships

Joe Brown, West Central Tribune, Willmar, Minn.
·4 min read

Mar. 17—STILLWATER, Okla. — Two Willmar Cardinal grads competed in the NCAA Division I Cross-Country Championships Monday in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Jessa Hanson, a 2017 WHS grad and junior at Northern Arizona, was third on her team and 79th overall with a time of 21 minutes, 22.6 seconds on the 6,000-meter course. Hanson's Lumberjacks took 11th place as a team with a score of 318. Brigham Young University was the team champion with 96 points, beating North Carolina State's 161.

Leah Hansen, a 2019 WHS grad and sophomore at South Dakota State, finished in 120th place with a time of 21:40.6. On March 5 in Macomb, Illinois, Hansen won the Summit League championship with a time of 21:45.60. She helped the Jackrabbits to a Summit League title with 22 points.

Carlson to compete at nationals

Clay Carlson, a 2018 Willmar High School grad and sophomore at South Dakota sophomore will be one of five Jackrabbits competing in the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on Thursday-Saturday at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis.

After going 16-6 this season, Carlson is the 15th seed at 141 pounds and will face 18th-seeded Parker Filius (7-7) of Purdue in the opening round.

Carlson is 16-6 this season and is ranked 15th in the country at 141 pounds, according to InterMat Wrestling. He qualified for nationals after placing fourth in the Big 12 Conference championships.

Danny Vega (125), Zach Price (133), Cade DeVos (157) and Tanner Sloan (197) also qualified for nationals for SDSU.

Yusuf breaks NSIC record

Nadir Yusuf, a 2016 Willmar High School grad and senior for the Minnesota State-Moorhead men's track and field team, broke a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference record while becoming a conference champion for the third time during the NSIC Indoor Championships on Feb. 26 in Mankato.

Competing in the 5,000-meter run, Yusuf won the race with a time of 14 minutes, 14.30 seconds, breaking the conference record of 14:33.86 set in 2018. That time also broke the school record of 14:18 that Yusuf set in 2020 and was 24 seconds better than his seed time.

Previously, Yusuf had won NSIC championships in the indoor 3,000 in 2020 and the outdoor 5,000 in 2019.

Also during this year's indoor championships, Yusuf was third in the 3,000 at 8:27.77, which also earned him another All-NSIC honor. Augustana's Alec Kray won the 3,000 at 8:23.74, followed by teammate Henry Klitzke at 8:25.62.

D-C/Litchfield gets No. 3 seed

After winning the Section 6AA championship over Becker and defeating Totino-Grace in the Class AA state quarterfinals at Saturday's state prelim meet, the Dassel-Cokato/Litchfield wrestling team earned the No. 3 seed in AA's final four, the Minnesota State High School League announced on Tuesday.

D-C/Litch faces No. 2 seed Fairmont/Martin County West in the state semifinals at 9 a.m. on Friday, March 26 at St. Michael-Albertville High School. The winner of that match faces the winner of No. 1 Simley and No. 4 Princeton.

The top-ranked team in Class AA, Simley will be going for its third straight state championship. Fairmont/MCW is ranked third, D-C/Litch fourth and Princeton ninth.

All-State GBB honors

A total of four area girls basketball players earned All-State honors from the Minnesota Girls Basketball Coaches Association over the weekend:


Willmar's Mackenzie Jones was named to the Class AAA All-State team.


Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa's Allisa Knight was selected for the Class A All-State team


In Class AA, Litchfield's Sydney McCann and Montevideo's Avery Koenen were both All-State honorable mentions.

Christoffer earns CLC nod

Willmar girls basketball player Sammy Christoffer has been named a Central Lakes Conference performer of the week.

The junior guard earned the honor on the defensive end, hauling in 11 rebounds over three games. She also averaged 11.0 points per game as the Cardinals went 2-1 last week with wins over Sauk Rapids (63-43) and Big Lake (66-38) along with a loss to Fergus Falls (57-52).

Christoffer and the Cardinals are the No. 2 seed in the Section 5AAA tournament and will host No. 7 Monticello at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Big Red Gym.

Others honored by the CLC this week include:


From Sartell, boys hockey players Hayden Walters and Michael Webster.


From Alexandria, girls hockey play Anna Doherty and boys swimmer Carter Holm.


From Fergus falls, girls hockey player Ellie Colbeck.


From Sauk Rapids, boys diver Elijah Grabinski.


From Bemidji, gymnast Madysen Schmidt


From Brainerd, wrestler Easton Dircks.