H-BC/E edges T-M-B, Worthington thirdSLAYTON — As expected Tracy-Milroy-Balaton senior Ryan Tholen won his sixth consecutive individual title of the season — remaining undefeated — with a 31-second victory at the eight-team Rebel Invitational at the Slayton Country Club Tuesday afternoon.
By: Les Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
SLAYTON — As expected Tracy-Milroy-Balaton senior Ryan Tholen won his sixth consecutive individual title of the season — remaining undefeated — with a 31-second victory at the eight-team Rebel Invitational at the Slayton Country Club Tuesday afternoon.
While Tholen was pulling away from the 41-runner varsity field in the boys’ 5,000-meter race, the Patriots of Hills-Beaver Creek/Ellsworth were claiming the team championship with an effective late-race surge.
The Patriot trio of Tyler Paulsen, Brent Kramer and Luke Werner each moved up several places in the last mile, passing front-leading Martin County West and combining with H-BC/E lead runners Halden Van Wyhe and Dustin Verhey to give their team an eight-point victory over T-M-B.
H-BC/E won with 52 points on team places 3-9-12-13-15, while the Panthers tallied 60 points on team places 1-6-14-17-22.
Worthington edged MCW (66-67) for third place, and host Murray County Central claimed fifth with 83 points.
Westbrook-Walnut Grove/Red Rock Central, Southwest Christian and Pipestone Area were each incomplete, without five finishing runners.
“This was a good run by our guys today,” declared H-BC/E head coach Tom Goehle. “We were coming off a good performance at Milaca Saturday, but the boys came through again in this meet — which was a great workout and a real test for us.”
Van Wyhe, who led the race in the early going, paced the Patriots with a third-place finish, clocked at 18:28.
Verhey also made the top 10, earning a meet T-shirt with his 10th-place finish (19:18), while the trio of Paulsen (19:41), Kramer (19:44) and Werner (19:46) finished 14th, 15th and 17th overall, respectively.
Griak Invite at the U of M course next for Tholen
For Tholen, the anticipation of competing Saturday in the prestigious Roy Griak Invitational at the University of Minnesota Golf Course in Falcon Heights — along with the challenging hills of the Slayton course — slowed him down in the early stages Tuesday.
But as the race continued, the state’s second-ranked Class A runner did what he normally does — catch the leader, move into first place and gradually stretch the distance.
Tholen’s winning time was 17:26.
“I went out slow and stayed nice and relaxed,” Tholen said just before the post-race awards ceremony began. “The hills on this course are really tough over the first two miles, but on the flat parts, I was able to run much faster.”
Tholen was also happy about his team’s performance, noting that senior teammate Alex Jones had a good race and he also praised the effort of Worthington sophomore O.J. Ojullu, who finished second with a time of 17:57.
“Alex had a goal to make the top 10, and he finished seventh,” said Tholen, who noted that having a competitive team has made this season a lot of fun.
“I know that Ojullu has been doing very well,” continued Tholen. “I knew that he was still close behind — he’s a good runner.”
Worthington head coach Mike Traphagen agreed with Tholen’s assessment.
“O.J. has established his consistency,” Traphagen said. “He is running good races every time out.”
The Trojans also received another stellar performance from junior Aaron Grafing, who — like in his last race — passed lots of runners over the distance, moving all the way from 12th to fourth in the final two miles.
Grafing was caught by MCW’s Matt Stoffel just yards before the chute and finished fifth, clocked at 18:44.
Completing the scoring for the Trojans were Kreguto Okello (20th, 20:09), Ian Fleace (22nd, 20:12) and Michael Patten (23rd, 20:17).
Other area runners who finished among the top 10 included Southwest Christian’s Corey Vis (sixth, 18:52), Jones (18:57) and MCC’s Mark Bau (eighth, 19:08).
In a battle for 11th, SWC’s Josh Bobb outkicked MCC’s Mitchell Hart in a very close race, as both runners were clocked at 19:25.
Jeremy Hoflock (16th, 19:45), Reed Salmon (19th, 19:50), Schuyler Canfield (21st, 20:11), Rich Rohlik (24th, 20:25) and Joe Hook (25th, 20:33) completed the list of area runners in the top 25.
Canfield is from MCC, Rohlik runs for W-WG/RRC and the trio of Hoflock, Salmon and Hook represent T-M-B.