PREP CROSS COUNTRY: Mavericks win girls' team title
WORTHINGTON -- On a day which was nearly ideal for running, Martin County West freshman Whitney Smith ran an outstanding race and paced the Martin County West Mavericks to a narrow, one-point victory, over three-time defending champion Adrian in the girls' 4,000-meter race of the 45th annual Turkey Trot high school cross country meet at Prairie View Golf Links Thursday afternoon.
Smith, who finished 10th at last year's Turkey Trot, ran up front with freshman teammate Morgan Larson, Jackson County Central freshman Jadin Bezdicek and three-time defending individual champion Jordin Kopplow -- a highly-successful senior from Adrian --for most of the distance.
But late in the race, Kopplow and Smith pulled away and the event became a two-girl chase until Smith powered her way into the finish chute first, clocking a fine time of 15:52.6.
"It's unbelievable," chimed Smith after the race. "This is my first varsity victory ever. I just really pushed myself to stay with that front pack and, today, I had a strong kick. I just really felt good the whole race."
Kopplow crossed the finish line with a solid second-place time of 15:57.8, while senior teammate Megan Sauer was an impressive third --- passing several runners late in the race --- clocked at 16:01.6.
Larson, who is normally MCW's top finisher, placed fourth (16:12.3), followed by Adrian junior Nicole Slater (16:13.3) and Bezdicek (16:25.1) in the top six.
Anchored by the high finishes of Smith and Larson and supported by the 11-13-18 overall finishes (10-12-16 in the team scoring) of its next three runners, MCW tallied 43 points and won its first girls' Turkey Trot team title since 2004.
Adrian, meanwhile scored 44 points on team places 2-3-5-9-25, and took team runner-up honors, finishing well ahead of third-place Mountain Lake Area (86) and fourth-place Fairmont (96).
Worthington, paced by the lead trio of Alicia Darling (14th, 16:47.9), Meredith Moore (16th, 16:48.8) and Stephanie Jaycox (20th, 17:08.6) claimed fifth with 130 points.
St. James (157), Murray County Central/Fulda (159), Pipestone Area (177) and Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (226) also registered team scores, while JCC, Windom, Southwest Star Concept and Southwest Christian were each incomplete.
"Our girls are just so motivated," exclaimed a happy MCW head coach Stannetta Svoboda after hearing the final official results. "Our boys had such a great season last year and qualified (from Section 2A) to run in the state meet. The girls have embraced that and have worked so hard all summer long and have been improving."
Following the efforts of Smith and Larson (eighth last year), the Mavericks wrapped up the close victory with the efforts of eighth-grader Brooke Anderson (11th overall, 10th team scoring, 16:38.2), senior Noel Bjerken (13, 12, 16:46.5) and senior Rachel Viesselman (18, 16, 17:04.3).
Individually, St. James sophomore Ashley Lahti and MLA junior Whitney Klassen tied for seventh-place with identical times of 16:28.2.
Fairmont sophomore Katiana Fischer claimed ninth (16:32.5) and Adrian sophomore Morgan Sauer completed the top 10 with her time of 16:34.9, giving Adrian four of the individual trophy winners.
Other area runners who finished among the top 25 included MLA sophomore Lydia Hildebrandt (12th, 16:44.6), Windom eighth-grader Christianna Green (15th, 16:48.7), MLA sophomore Brianna Soutthivong (17, 16:57.3) PA eighth-grader Livia Wallace (19, 17:07.5), MCC/Fulda sophomore Sariah Cheadle (22, 17:19.4) and Windom eighth-grader Kara Thompson (25, 17:31.2).
Ariana Lopez (39, 35, 18:22) and Kacey Contreras (59, 50, 19:23) completed the scoring for Worthington, while Rachel Koller (20:16) and Hope Reeves (22:08.4) also completed the varsity course for the Trojans, who improved 29 points and two team places from last year's Turkey Trot.
"Alicia, Meredith and Stephanie had very good runs, each finishing among the top 20 in a very competitive field," summed up Worthington head coach Ken Henkels. "We are improving both individually, and as a team, which is encouraging."
SSC's Rachel Salentinywins junior high race, MLA, JCC runners take next four places
SSC seventh-grader Rachel Salentiny won her second race of the season, clocking a first-place time of 6:02.6 in the 1,600-meter girls' junior high race.
Karli Cavness and Liana Blomgren, both of MLA, finished second and third with respective times of 6:14.7 and 6:17.3, while JCC eighth-graders Annika Lilleberg (6:20.4) and Jayni Anderson (6:26.3) were fourth and fifth.
Worthington's Jessica Darling (6:29.1), SSC's MaKayla Edwards (6:31.8) and SWC's Elise Ver Hey (6:33.0) finished in places six, eight and nine, respectively, also earning individual medals in the 55-girl race.
Fairmont won the team title with 30 points, followed by MLA (50), T-M-B (72) and Worthington (79).