PREP CROSS COUNTRY: Trojan boys put seven runners among top 19
WORTHINGTON -- Putting seven runners among the top 19 finishers Thursday afternoon, the determined and well-balanced Worthington Trojans raced to the boys' team title of the 45th annual Turkey Trot high school cross country meet at Prairie View Golf Links.
The Trojans impressively outran the 13-team field with a low score of 36 points on scoring places 2-3-8-9-14, as four Worthington runners finished among the individual medalists (top 10).
"It was a great day for us," beamed WHS head coach Ken Henkels, who was surrounded by jubilant athletes and parents following the announcement of the official results. "Each one of our top seven guys ran an outstanding race and it was our team balance which won the team title for us."
Two-time defending meet champion Martin County West, which had scored lower than a veteran Luverne team at a meet in Sioux Falls Sept. 8, also ran well and finished a solid second with 51 points.
"We knew that Worthington was running well and they sure did today," praised MCW head coach Stannetta Svoboda about the Trojans. "We have a good team returning and had good races from each of our guys, but was Worthington ever tough -- all the way through seven runners."
St. James, paced by the lead-run performance of senior Johnathan Surber, was third in the team standings with 83 points, followed by Windom (117), Jackson County Central (162), Murray County Central (165), Fairmont (177), Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (191) and Pipestone Area (206). Mountain Lake Area, Adrian, Southwest Christian and Southwest Star Concept were each incomplete.
Leading the charge for the Trojans were the duo of freshman Amanual Fissiha and first-year senior Ethan Spittle, who each ran solid races, progressively moving up into a tie for second-place, running side-by-side for most of the race.
Fissiha had the better finish of the two and placed second, clocked at 17:26.4 for the 5,000-meter course, while Spittle claimed third with his time of 17:33.2.
"We usually run together and push each other," explained Spittle, who has enjoyed lots of previous success as a runner at all distances in track and field. "I am really liking cross country and this was an accomplishment, winning our home meet, with all of the guys running so well."
The victory by the Trojans was the first Turkey Trot team title for the Worthington boys since 1991.
But after finishing third in 2009 and second each of the last two years, including falling just four points short (of MCW) last season, the team was motivated Thursday.
"It's a great feeling to win this meet this year, after coming so close last year," summed up senior veteran Ian Stewart. "We have a nice team and we have been working hard together."
Great finishing kicks by sophomore Matthew Jirele (eighth, 18:07.4) and first-year junior Anthony Luft (ninth, 18:07.4) gave WHS four of the top-nine finishers among the total of 122 runners who completed the course.
"Both Matt and Anthony were really kicking it in," declared Henkels. "They both moved up during the race and passed some runners and we had just a super effort from Nathan Landwehr as our fifth finisher."
Landwehr a senior, clinched Worthington's point total with a fine 14th-place finish (18:28.8) as he gave it everything he had over the final 800 meters.
The Trojans also received impressive performances from seniors Gordy Moore (18th, 18:43.1) and Stewart (19th, 18:50.7) who finished ahead of scoring runners from every team except MCW.
The Mavericks also showed fine balance as their top five finished in places four, five, 11, 15 and 16, respectively.
Moore and Stewart both entered the chute before St. James' third runner and before Windom's second runner, helping drive the scores of the other teams higher.
Stewart, in fact, beat the lead runner from five of the competing teams and would have been the second runner on five other squads.
"We're really happy with how all seven of our top guys are doing," concluded Henkels. "We have several other boys who are running very well, too, but can't crack our top seven."
Sophomore Oliver Wolyniec (26th, 19:18.5) and senior Jacob Woll (33rd, 19:47.2), for example each ran the course under 20 minutes.
Surber clocks winning time of 17:10, Helmoski earns medal for Windom
Surber pretty much led from start to finish and clocked a winning time of 17:10.1, as he showed why he is a state-ranked runner.
After Surber, Fissiha and Spittle had entered the chute, MCW runners Dylan Brockman (17:42) and Walter Fuller (17:50.6) finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
St. James sophomore Zuriel Chacon claimed sixth (18:02.8) and Windom senior Ryan Helmoski completed a strong race with a seventh-place performance (18:07.0), just holding off the blazing finishes by Jirele and Luft.
Josiah Johnson was Fairmont's top finisher, placing 10th (18:09.2), followed by MCW's Chris Kahler (18:10.8), PA's Andrew Berg (18:12.4), T-M-B's Matt Lavoy (18:12.8) in places 11-13.
MCW runners Jonah Mayo (18:36.7) and Nick Holm (18:39.2) were 15th and 16th, while JCC's Peter Nasby (18:41.5) finished 17th.
Completing the top 25 in the varsity race were St. James' Richy Soto (18:50.8), Adrian's Taylor Recker (18:56), MCC's Andy Garza (18:57.5), MCW's Daniel Smith (19:01.5), St. James' Tyler Witcraft (19:13.3) and Windom's Brown Ogeka (19:15.9).
Suda leads Pipestone to junior high title
PA seventh-grader Michael Suda claimed victory in the boys' junior high 1,600-meter race with a time of 5:14.3.
Two of Suda's teammates also finished in the top 10 as the Arrows won the team title with a low score of 36 points.
Other area runners who claimed top-10 medals were PA's Lucas Griebel (fourth, 5:42.5), SSC's Logan Knutson (sixth, 5:47.2), PA's Emerson Winter (eight, 5:53.0), Windom's Jae Carlson (ninth, 6:05.6) and Worthington's Jacob Prunty (10th, 6:09.3).
A total of 66 runners finished the race.