PREP CROSS COUNTRY: Working toward the topFULDA — Winning a cross country race is never a bad thing, but not all races bring the same level of emotion as others. For the winners of Tuesday’s Murray County Central Cross Country Invitational, the race was merely another stepping stone within a busy schedule to prepare for greater races to come.
FULDA — Winning a cross country race is never a bad thing, but not all races bring the same level of emotion as others.
For the winners of Tuesday’s Murray County Central Cross Country Invitational, the race was merely another stepping stone within a busy schedule to prepare for greater races to come.
Whitney Wilgenburg of the Hills-Beaver Creek-Ellsworth-Edgerton team won the girls’ varsity race with a time of 15:52 and Worthington’s Mubarik Musa won the boys’ varsity race with a time of 17:03, but both were more concerned with preparing for future goals than with their victories on the day.
Wilgenburg came into the race after finishing second at a meet in Milaca on Saturday and was happy to perform well so soon after another big race.
“I guess my goal was just to run as hard as I could, trying to get at least in the top 10, I was going to try to stick with the Luverne and Canby girls,” Wilgenburg said. “I was a little bit worried since we had Milaca Saturday, I was kind of tired from that.”
This is Wilgenburg’s senior season, and more that anything she is hoping to make it to the state meet for the first time.
“My ultimate goal is to make it to state this year, I haven’t done that yet, and I’m really hoping to do that,” Wilgenburg said. “That would pretty much be the icing on the cake, definitely.”
The girls’ varsity race was won by the Canby/Minneota team with 35 points, with Martin County West finishing second with 39 points.
Luverne was the highest finishing local team with 67 points, and had two of the top four finishers. Makayla Hohn was second with a time of 16:20 and Anna Tofteland finished fourth in 16:44.
WHS was fourth in the team standings. Stephanie Jaycox paced the Trojans with a 15th place finish in a time of 18:27, followed by Sarah Cham with a 20th place time of 19:05.
“Our girls ran pretty good times,” Worthington head coach Ken Henkels said. “Stephanie Jaycox ran really well, Sarah was probably a little disappointed but she still ran a pretty good time, so we were happy with how the girls ran.”
Murray County Central and Tracey-Milroy-Balaton rounded out the team scores with fifth and sixth place finishes respectively.
H-BC-E-E didn’t have a full team entered, but also had a top 10 finish from Siera Wilgenburg, who finished eighth in 17:39.
The Patriots’ team was purposely split up between varsity and JV to “mix it up” and “keep it fresh,” according to head coach Tom Goehle.
“We look at this meet as a great workout for us,” Goehle said. “Having run hard Saturday and had a big meet we knew it was going to be a bit more challenging today. This is a toughness meet for us, it’s to measure your level of toughness from the standpoint of you’re going to get tired, you are going to get sore, you need to work on blocking that out and running through it.”
Just as Whitney Wilgenburg has long term goals in mind, the Patriots are focused on important races down the road.
“We’re trying to get a better place this year for the girls team at conference than we ever have, so that’s one of our goals, we’re really going to run some miles before then and really start practicing hard,” Whitney Wilgenburg said.
Musa won the boys’ race by 25 seconds over Canby/Minneota’s Nick Stoks.
T-M-B’s Jeremy Hoflock was the next best local runner, finishing fourth with a time of 18:22, followed by MCC’s Schuyler Canfield in fifth with a time of 18:29.
MCW won the team competition, followed in order by Canby/Minneota, T-M-B, WHS, Luverne and MCC.
Musa won the race despite participating in a tough statewide meet in Minneapolis on Saturday, the Roy Griak Invitational. He finished 12th in a field of 511 runners from around the state.
“I think it was excellent experience, it’s a good way of finding out where I’m at in the season,” Musa said of Saturday’s race. “It gives me an idea of what I need to accomplish to get faster for the end of the season, which is state, so it was sort of a preview for state.”
Musa will be looking to defend his state championship title on Nov. 6, and Tuesday’s race was important preparation, but the win was a by-product rather than his main goal in the race.
“I was sore from (the Griak Invitational), so this race was about trying to keep really loose and easy and nice, nothing stressful and taxing,” Musa said. “I was just trying to go really easy and go out there and have fun with it. That was the plan. I still have a race on Thursday, so I’m trying to save something for Thursday.”
Tuesday’s meet was originally supposed to be run in Slayton, but flooding moved the location. The race was the first ever run at the course in Fulda.
“We’ve never run at Fulda before, it was a fun course, the kids had never seen it before, they had a great time here, it was a fun meet,” Henkels said.
WHS will be among the teams participating in Thursday’s meet hosted by T-M-B, which is a make-up after last week’s scheduled meet was postponed due to heavy rain.