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Triathlon: Winner sets course record in Lakes Country Triathlon

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Wade Cruser finishes the bike leg of the Lake Country Triathlon Sunday, Aug. 26, at Whipple Beach Park in Baxter. Cruser went on to set a course record with a time of 56:55. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch Video and Gallery2 / 7
Jacquelyn Bacigalupi crosses the finish line Sunday, Aug. 26, winning the womens division of the Lake Country Triathlon with a time of 1:09.56. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch Video and Gallery3 / 7
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Jacquelyn Bacigalupi heads out on the running leg of the Lake Country Triathlon Sunday Aug. 26, at Whipple Beach Park in Baxter. Seve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch Video and Gallery 5 / 7
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Jacquelyn Bacigalupi heads off on the bike leg of the Lake Country Triathlon Sunday, Aug. 26 at Whipple Beach Park in Baxter. Bacigalupi won the women’s division with a 1:09.56. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch Video and Gallery7 / 7

BAXTER—Sauk Rapids' Wade Cruser set a course record and returned to the top of the podium while Baxter's Jacquelyn Bacigalupi was a first-time winner for the women in the Lakes Country Triathlon Sunday, Aug. 26, in Baxter.

Cruser finished the course in 56:55, breaking the previous course record of 58:33 that he set in 2016. The current race was shortened slightly in 2014 and begins with a quarter-mile swim at Whipple Beach followed by a 14-mile bike ride and finishes with a 3.2-mile run through Baxter's residential area.

This is Cruser's fourth year competing in the triathlon and might have been his third consecutive win except for an unfortunate mistake while leading in last year's race. He was second in 2015 his first year and won the 2016 race.

"Last year, I went the wrong way on the run," Cruser said. "I cut it about three-quarters of a mile short. Otherwise, this would have been three-straight wins.

"I keep coming back, four straight years. It's such a great little race up here and it's so easy to get here, less than an hour from my house."

The 31-year-old Cruser was the second swimmer out of the water, four seconds behind Rosemount's Jon Wise. He took over the lead in the bike race, and going into the run, held a 60-second lead over Sartell's Andrew Zabel, who finished third for the men. Finishing second was Josh Blankenheim of Duluth, 1:32 behind Cruser.

The top area finisher for the men was Brainerd's Corey Kuglin, 27, who placed fifth.

"My swim was alright," said Cruser. "There was kind of a pack of people out there. Coming back, the sun was in our eyes so I didn't know how we were swimming, but it's a short enough swim so you just power through it and get out of the water.

"I got on the bike and I wasn't sure how my body was going to show up. I raced another, longer triathlon, yesterday in Maple Grove. I just tried to push as hard as I could because I knew Josh, the guy who took second, is a strong bike-runner and we came out of the water together.

"The bike went well. It was a real nice day for it, just a little bit of a headwind coming back. Off the bike, I was hoping my legs would show up. My hamstrings were really tight the first mile, but they loosened up and I got through it with a pretty even pace."

Sunday's triathlon was Cruser's 11th and final race of the summer. He is a gas and electric meter maintenance worker and coaches wrestling at Royalton High School.

"I had about a five-week break in July," he said. "I coach for the national wrestling team, too, the Minnesota Storm team. The national tournament was in Fargo in July and our championship series, so most of my July was eaten up coaching wrestling for that, too. So it's been nice to get back into racing and that's why I've raced the last five weekends."

Bacigalupi paces women's race

Bacigalupi topped the women's leaderboard for the first time with a time of 1:09.56, 11th overall.

"I was in California the last two times this race has been held," she said, "but I think I raced five or six years in a row before that. I was second the last two times I finished."

The 40-year-old fisheries biologist was sixth after the swim, but mounted a 2:12 lead over 36-year-old Cassie Piepkorn of Baxter by the end of the bike race. Piepkorn finished second overall, 2:45 back, and Maple Grove 15-year-old Simone Lundquist was third, finishing a consistent third in all three legs.

"I got a little too far to the right in the swim, but then I straightened out, and I thought I had a pretty decent bike," Bacigalupi said. "I've been struggling a little on the run. It's only 3 miles, but it seems like a long 3 miles."

This was just her second race this year, but she said she will be doing a marathon in October at Acadia National Park in Maine.

"I'm not really training this year," she said. "I've just taken this year off to hang with family and stuff. I started tris in 2013, but I've run (marathons) for probably 20 years before that."

Participation in this year's race was up with 164 entrants, 129 of which finished. Complete results can be found at or

For more photos of the Lake Country Triathlon go to

Lakes Country Triathlon

Men's Results (Top 10)

1. Wade Cruser, 31, Sauk Rapids, 56:55

2. Josh Blankenheim, 38, Duluth, 58:27

3. Andrew Zabel, 38, Sartell, 59:27

4. Brian Storhaug, 27, Alexandria, 1:03.56

5. Corey Kuglin, 27, Brainerd, 1:04.39

6. Jack Hennen, 18, Cambridge, 1:06.00

7. Jim Gaif, 56, Elk River, 1:06.37

8. Jonathan Delaney, 22, Golden Valley, 1:06.51

9. Riant Northway, 36, Lake Shore, 1:08.27

10. Justin Skoglund, 37, Fort Ripley, 1:09.37

Women's Results (Top 10)

1. Jacquelyn Bacigalupi, 40, Baxter, 1:09.56

2. Cassie Piepkorn, 36, Baxter, 1:12.41

3. Simone Lundquist, 15, Maple Grove, 1:13.12

4. Mandy Melby, 31, Baxter, 1:13.45

5. Lisa Hines, 55, Waite Park, 1:17.41

6. Sherry Wright, 49, Baxter, 1:18.36

7. Stacy Eichinger, 49, Loveland, CO, 1:19.53

8. Claire Swanson, 41, Wayzata, 1:20.14

9. Marissa Mahowald, 41, Sartell, 1:21.23

10. Stephanie Etterman, 53, East Gull Lake, 1:21.40