/playoffs/2018/fredenburg-football-family

Fred's football family

More news about: Mary Hardin-Baylor
The Fredenburg family, including Kori, in the white coat. (Photo by Larry Radloff, d3photography.com)
The Fredenburg family, including Kori, in the white coat.
Photo by Larry Radloff, d3photography.com
 

By Adam Turer
D3sports.com

The similarities are obvious: another 14-0 start and a third consecutive trip to the Stagg Bowl.

But the 2018 season has been anything but typical for Pete Fredenburg and his Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders.

The only head coach in the program’s 21-year history missed the first three games of the season while serving a self-imposed suspension for NCAA violations. He missed a practice during the week of the Cru’s national semifinal game, for a very different reason.

While serving the season-opening suspension, which followed a three-month offseason suspension, Fredenburg was able to spend additional time with his family. That was more important to him than ever this year, providing a silver lining while he missed his football family.

Leaving Belton on the Wednesday before the UW-Whitewater game was not an easy decision, but one that Fredenburg made without hesitation.

That was the day his daughter, Kori, received a kidney transplant.

“The prayers and the thoughts and the sacrifice of so many has made this such an emotional time for us. Certainly we’re very blessed and my daughter is doing great,” said Fredenburg. “Our players were aware and they were overwhelmingly supportive of me and my family. It was just an incredible time.”

Kori received the organ donation from her best friend, Heather Nay. The women grew up together and were volleyball teammates in high school before attending Baylor University.

“It’s amazing that my donor would be willing to do this. Her selflessness is just unheard of,” said Kori. “It’s opened all of our hearts up to know that there are so many kind people out there.”

While the Fredenburg family was experiencing a life-changing week, the Cru still had to prepare for their toughest test of the season. There were many goals at stake: returning to the Stagg Bowl to avenge last year’s bitter 12-0 loss, earning the right to play in the first Stagg Bowl held in their home state, and playing one more game for Kori to attend this season.

“We knew it would be sweet for him to get the win. We were praying for him every single day. It meant everything,” said senior running back Markeith Miller. “I know Coach Fred loves his daughter so much and we know what he and his family do for us each and every day. It’s an awesome feeling knowing that she’s going to be there to root on her dad and all of us.”

While she was crestfallen to miss a game, especially a home playoff game with a Stagg Bowl berth on the line, Kori understood her doctors’ orders. The hardest part was resisting her natural inclination to get loud while cheering on the Cru as she watched the game on her laptop.

“It was torture having to watch it on my computer,” she said. “It’s hard having abdominal surgery to scream and yell. That was tough. It will be better this week.”

The transplant was scheduled back in September, and the date was looming all throughout football season. While the family would have preferred a date after the Stagg Bowl, the doctors did what they had to do. That also meant that Kori knew what her dad and his team had to do immediately following her procedure.

“He was so worried about me. I kept saying, ‘All you need to do is coach a team and make it to the championship,’” she said. “I knew I was going to miss the semifinal, so I told him, ‘You have to win. There’s no losing this game.’ I knew we were going to win.”

A dominant defensive performance in the first half keyed the 31-14 win over UW-Whitewater. It was Mary Hardin-Baylor’s first victory over the Warhawks in six tries. Miller carried 33 times for 168 yards and two touchdowns to clinch the spot in the Stagg Bowl in nearby Shenandoah.

“You just can’t imagine what a relief it is,” said Fredenburg. “She’s probably my biggest fan. For her to be able to be at the Stagg Bowl is an added emotion for all of us.”

Pete Fredenburg on the sidelines in the second-round playoff game against Berry, wearing sunglasses. (Photo by Joe Fusco, d3photography.com)
Photo by Joe Fusco, d3photography.com
 

For the players, taking care of business in their final home game of the season came with an added sense of duty to the coach who has done so much for them in their time on campus.

“For everything Coach Fred has done for his players, to know we were able to do something for him and his family is amazing,” said senior receiver T.J. Josey. “We’re there to support him. He didn’t want it to cause a distraction to the football team, but we know that that’s a big thing for him. We came together and said prayers for him and his family. We made sure we went out there and got that win on Saturday so she could see us play again.”

Kori has received an outpouring of support from Cru football alumni, including many teammates of her younger brother, Cody.

“It’s been remarkable how supportive and gracious all of them are. It’s hard to put into words,” she said. “I know it’s really touched my dad to see the outpouring of support, and it has for me as well. People really respect him and they really value their relationship with him, which falls on to me. It’s really like a family.”

Nearly a week later, Fredenburg still gets choked up every time he is asked about his daughter, her successful transplant, and her recovery. He is coaching in his fourth Stagg Bowl this week with a clear mind, full of gratitude.

“Any time you talk about your family in a life and death situation, it’s very difficult,” said Fredenburg. “It’s been amazing the support that I got not only from friends and relatives, but from my team and my coaches. It’s been incredible. It certainly makes you appreciate the love that people have and share together.”

When the Cru celebrated on the field following Saturday’s win, Fredenburg embraced his wife, Karen, and they wept together. It was a cathartic moment after a very emotional week, in a very emotional season.

The suspension, followed by the scheduling of the transplant, then finally the transplant itself weighed on the family throughout the entire season. Now, they can look forward to focusing on football one more time, in their home state and on the biggest stage.

“I think maybe it gave Dad strength to fight through this season. He’s used my struggles to get through. I do think it’s very valuable that we had it scheduled through football season,” said Kori. “The waiting part is the worst part. Football kept us distracted. Looking forward to games and going to the games really helped me. It took everything he had to leave the hospital on Wednesday. I was in so much pain and he didn’t want to leave, but we all know how football is. Other people may not seem to understand, but football is a really big thing for our family. It’s been an emotional year all around.”

Just as she was confident the Cru would make it to the Stagg Bowl, Kori believed that her doctors would take care of her so that she can attend. She’ll be there Friday night, cheering as loud as she can for her favorite coach and her favorite team.

“I wouldn’t miss it for anything.”

Sep. 14: All times Eastern
Final
at Brockport 14, Framingham State 0
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at Lawrence Tech 34, Wisconsin Lutheran 14
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at Norwich 30, St. Lawrence 24
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Montclair State 28, at Salve Regina 11
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at Utica 26, Buffalo State 15
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at Springfield 21, Kean 14
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at St. John Fisher 35, Bridgewater State 28
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at Mass-Dartmouth 48, Husson 41
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Shenandoah 35, at N.C. Wesleyan 19
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at Endicott 28, Rochester 3
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Cortland 31, at TCNJ 7
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at Salisbury 24, UW-Oshkosh 19
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at Franklin Pierce 29, Curry 27
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at Georgetown 69, Catholic 0
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University of New England 35, at Alvernia 28
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Ferrum 55, at Greensboro 7
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Hamilton 37, at Bowdoin 24
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at Amherst 27, Bates 13
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Union 54, at Anna Maria 7
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at Plymouth State 48, Maine Maritime 6
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Wittenberg 36, at Hiram 12
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at Wesleyan 30, Colby 10
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at Wooster 17, Oberlin 0
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at Hanover 49, Adrian 28
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Guilford 19, at Methodist 14
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at Franklin and Marshall 54, Juniata 0
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Susquehanna 28, at Johns Hopkins 27
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Hobart 38, at Morrisville State 24
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at Lycoming 43, Widener 42
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Ripon 45, at Finlandia 12
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Washington and Jefferson 59, at Thiel 0
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at Westminster (Pa.) 45, Waynesburg 21
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Wesley 24, at Delaware Valley 18
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at Alfred 15, George Fox 14
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at Wilkes 30, Lebanon Valley 24
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McDaniel 13, at Moravian 10
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Muhlenberg 38, at Dickinson 9
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Ursinus 48, at Gettysburg 10
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at Washington and Lee 42, Sewanee 7
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UW-Whitewater 20, at Concordia-Moorhead 10
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at St. Scholastica 41, Presentation 13
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Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 30, at Northwestern (Minn.) 7
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at Tufts 14, Trinity (Conn.) 8
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Ohio Northern 39, at Muskingum 10
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at Hope 80, Defiance 6
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Trine 35, at Bluffton 20
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at Heidelberg 35, Wilmington 10
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at Middlebury 17, Williams 13
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Linfield 35, at Rowan 14
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Baldwin Wallace 45, at Otterbein 28
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Ohio Wesleyan 42, at Kenyon 0
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at Fitchburg State 12, Castleton 10
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at Central 45, DePauw 19
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Millsaps 35, at Westminster (Mo.) 10
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Olivet 54, at Concordia-Chicago 24
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at UW-Stevens Point 31, Wabash 28
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Carleton 20, at Lawrence 10
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at Simpson 27, Chicago 23
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at Greenville 31, Kalamazoo 17
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Concordia (Wis.) 31, at Augsburg 0
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at Martin Luther 34, Rockford 20
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at Lake Forest 44, Grinnell 0
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Bethel 38, at UW-River Falls 20
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at St. Norbert 27, UW-Eau Claire 21
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at Crown 23, Beloit 6
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Aurora 48, at Elmhurst 22
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Howard Payne 56, at McMurry 37
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at UW-La Crosse 33, Illinois Wesleyan 27
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at Knox 44, Iowa Wesleyan 0
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at Nebraska Wesleyan 25, Illinois College 20
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Gustavus Adolphus 41, at UW-Stout 31
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at WPI 6, RPI 3
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St. Olaf 33, at Luther 20
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at La Verne 43, Willamette 33
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at Pomona-Pitzer 20, Lewis and Clark 0
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at Pacific Lutheran 17, Cal Lutheran 10
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Hartwick 30, at Alfred State 20
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at Western Connecticut 41, Dean 16
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Alma 35, at Manchester 7
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Randolph-Macon 30, at Averett 27
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Albion 48, at Franklin 26
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at Berry 34, LaGrange 9
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at Anderson 27, Cincinnati Christian 23
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Hampden-Sydney 27, at Christopher Newport 24
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Carnegie Mellon 31, at Geneva 6
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Marietta 44, at Capital 7
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Bridgewater 37, at Stevenson 22
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at Centre 27, Maryville (Tenn.) 22
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at Grove City 26, Bethany 15
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Austin 27, at Southwestern Assemblies 26
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at Loras 42, Benedictine 14
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at Hardin-Simmons 16, Trinity (Texas) 10
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at Dubuque 37, Pacific 26
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at Buena Vista 27, Concordia (Neb.) 24
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at Birmingham-Southern 45, Huntingdon 13
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at Eureka 41, MacMurray 24
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Hendrix 26, at Texas Lutheran 23
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at Mary Hardin-Baylor 56, Albright 15
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Valley City State 67, at Minnesota-Morris 7
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at Wartburg 38, Monmouth 9
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Rose-Hulman 30, at Rhodes 0
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Hamline 31, at Macalester 27
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Louisiana College 20, at Belhaven 14
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at Texas A&M-Kingsville 72, Sul Ross State 0
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at Redlands 58, Puget Sound 7
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Sep. 15: All times Eastern
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at Coe 38, Cornell 0
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Sep. 19: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Manchester at Defiance
@ Defiance High School
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Sep. 20: All times Eastern
6:30 PM
Moravian at Johns Hopkins
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Morrisville State at St. Lawrence
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MIT at Becker
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Sep. 5: All times Eastern
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Johns Hopkins 17, at Randolph-Macon 12
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Sep. 6: All times Eastern
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Delaware Valley 37, at Kean 7
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Sep. 7: All times Eastern
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at RPI 52, Allegheny 14
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North Central (Ill.) 43, at Christopher Newport 13
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Wesley 69, at Franklin Pierce 0
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at Muhlenberg 45, TCNJ 26
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Ithaca 66, at St. Vincent 28
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at Washington and Jefferson 16, Wittenberg 8
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at John Carroll 21, UW-Stevens Point 7
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Centre 45, at Hanover 31
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Berry 31, at Maryville (Tenn.) 10
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at Bethel 42, Simpson 10
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Wheaton (Ill.) 38, at Monmouth 0
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St. John's 14, at UW-Stout 7
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Final - OT
at UW-La Crosse 21, Concordia-Moorhead 14
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Whitworth 50, at La Verne 24
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at St. Thomas 69, Trinity International 3
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at UW-Whitewater 42, Dubuque 7
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Mount Union 66, at Rose-Hulman 14
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Hardin-Simmons 64, at Sul Ross State 0
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