PREP CROSS COUNTRY GIRLS: Adrian girls snag 2nd at sectionals
ADRIAN -- For the eighth consecutive time, the Adrian High School girls' cross country team will be running at St. Olaf College in Northfield as participants in the elite state meet.
In a very close four-team chase for the Section 3A team championship Friday afternoon, Canby/Minneota/Lincoln dethroned the seven-time champion Dragons for the title, 77-83.
But, AHS -- which received strong performances from all five of its scoring runners --outscored 12 other complete teams and will advance as this year's section runner-up.
Luverne, one of the pre-meet favorites, had its two lead runners -- Madison Schandelmeier and Makayla Hohn --finish an impressive second and fourth, respectively, individually among the large field of 110 competitors.
But, the Cardinals were eight points behind Adrian in the final standings and finished with a score of 91 --one point better than Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd's total of 92.
Mountain Lake Area, paced by individual state-meet qualifiers Whitney Klassen and Liana Blomgren, also made a strong bid for a state-meet team berth as the Wolverines were a solid fifth with 103 points.
Redwood Valley, led by individual champion Kayla Huhnerkoch, was sixth with 141 points, while Montevideo was seventh (149), followed by Murray County Central/Fulda (232), Southwest Star Concept (259), Pipestone Area (278), Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (284), Windom (299), Yellow Medicine East (377) and MACCRAY/Renville County West (406).
Hills-Beaver Creek, Jackson County Central, BOLD, Southwest Christian, Lakeview, Springfield/Cedar Mountain and Hendricks all ran incomplete, as a total of 21 teams had runners participating.
Huhnerkoch, Schandelmeier pull away early, Kopplow finishes third
In the individual chase, it was a duel between Schandelmeier and Huhnerkoch from beginning to end.
The two were still even at the 3,200-meter mark of the 4,000-meter (2.5 miles) race and Adrian's Jordin Kopplow had moved into third and was closing on the gap between the two leaders.
Huhnerkoch, who has placed several times in middle distance races at the state track and field meet, powered ahead during the final stretch run up the long hill leading to the finish and claimed the gold medal with an impressive time of 14 minutes and 53 seconds.
Schandelmeier, who won the Southwest Conference individual championship 10 days earlier, earned the silver medal as she was clocked at 14:56.
"Madi ran a super race," praised LHS head coach Pete Janiszeski. "She gave it everything she had all the way and ran stride-for-stride with one of the state's best runners at the front of a very tough section meet."
Kopplow broke away from the second pack of runners and finished a strong third (15:05) to lead Adrian.
Hohn held off Adrian's Nicole Slater --who passed several runners during her final half-mile surge -- as the two finished fourth and fifth, respectively, with times of 15:24 and 15:24.5.
Canby, which was the last team --prior to Adrian's seven-year run --to win the team championship (in 2004 with the same score of 77), had the next two finishers before runners from LQPV/D-B, Montevideo and LQPV/D-B took places 8-9-10.
Morgan Sauer, Anna Serrao step it up for the team-oriented Dragons
Canby's winning total came on places 6-7-13-20-31, while AHS (3-5-11-23-41), LHS (2-4-15-32-38), LQPV/D-B (8-10-19-27-28) and MLA (12-14-16-24-37) were also in the hunt for the team title, as each squad had good balance and depth.
"Our girls ran a great team race," praised Adrian head coach John Olson about the performances of the Dragons. "Both Jordin and Nicole did what we asked them to do and gave us two runners in the top five.
"Megan Sauer is usually our third runner, but she has been having respiratory problems over the past week or so, which kept her from having her normal strong race.
"But, two other girls -- Morgan Sauer and Anna Serrao -- really stepped it up and did even more than we asked of them."
Morgan Sauer continually passed runners late in the race and entered the chute an impressive 11th (15:49), while Megan gave a great effort and finished 24th overall (23rd team), clocked at 16:29.
Serrao, just a seventh-grader, ran her best race of the season and finished 44th (41st team) to clinch Adrian's state trip with a fine time of 17:06.
"We were hoping that Anna could run 17:30 or better," declared Olson. "She did better than that and Morgan really stepped it up -- getting 11 in this meet is pretty impressive.
"For us, when the girls realized that Megan was struggling -- they each knew they had to give it their all, which each of them did and then some.
"The girls had some motivation, as they wanted to prove that we're not done yet and each one of them ran with great determination --it was the ultimate team side of cross country."
Klassen, Blomgren advance; Aukes, Hildebrandt just miss
Klassen, a senior earned a return trip to the state meet by finishing 12th overall (seventh among the runners not from the top two teams) with a time of 15:51.
Blomgren, just an eighth-grader, qualified for her first state meet as the eighth non-state team individual (14th overall), clocked at 16:04.
Luverne eighth-grader Mariah Aukes (16:09) and MLA sophomore Lydia Hildebrant (16:11) narrowly missed advancing as they finished 15th and 16th, respectively, overall.
SSC's Rachel Salentiny (16:22) placed 21st overall, leading her team of all seventh-graders to a surprising ninth-place team finish.
H-BC's Jenna Wilgenburg (22, 16:27), PA's Livia Wallace (23, 16:27.5) and MLA's Stacy Harder (25, 16:30) also had top-25 individual finishes.
The Class A girls' state meet will be run at St. Olaf at 11 p.m. Nov. 3.