PREP BOYS' CROSS COUNTRY: Hess, Stensland-Bos lead balanced LHS squad to team winLUVERNE — A extremely well-balanced Luverne Cardinals high school boys’ cross country team put all five of its scoring runners among the top-10 finishers Thursday afternoon and convincingly won their own six-team Cardinal Invitational at the LHS athletic complex.
By: Les Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
LUVERNE — A extremely well-balanced Luverne Cardinals high school boys’ cross country team put all five of its scoring runners among the top-10 finishers Thursday afternoon and convincingly won their own six-team Cardinal Invitational at the LHS athletic complex.
Paced by the sparkling second-place finish of sophomore Cody Hess and a strong fourth-place run by senior Nathan Stensland-Bos, the Cardinals (2-3-5-6-9 in the team scoring) tallied a low score of 25, winning the meet by 17 points over a strong Worthington team, which also ran very well.
“We wanted to run a good team race,” declared Luverne head coach Pete Janiszeski after taking care of the post-race awards. “Our guys certainly did that, sticking together very well as a pack and getting five strong finishes. It was a good meet for our team, which continues to improve.”
It was the third straight team victory for the Cardinals, who also won meets hosted by Jackson County Central (Sept. 22) and Murray County Central (Sept. 27) in the past two weeks.
Leading Luverne Thursday was Hess, who clocked a 5,000-meter time of 18 minutes and 12 seconds on a very windy day.
While Worthington senior Mubarik Musa — the 2009 Class A Minnesota state champion and a third-place state-meet finisher in 2010 — easily won the race, clocked at 16:49.8, the race for second was closely-contested between Hess and Adrian senior Jase Pater.
Pater, who has been having a great campaign — including a victory at Fairmont (Sept. 19), made a surge to pull away from Hess at the beginning of the third mile.
But, the ever-improving Hess, who is healthy this year after enduring various injuries and illnesses in past seasons, stayed right with the AHS star and eventually entered the chute seven seconds before his eastern rival.
Pater’s third-place time was 18:19.
“Jase is a very good runner and a great guy,” said Hess. “I just tried to stick with him and felt really good today.
“I was able to get ahead of him a little and had a strong finish to hold him off.”
Hess was quick to compliment his teammates and his coach for any of his success.
“I wouldn’t be able to do this without all the pushing and competing from the other guys on our team,” Hess explained. “We have a bunch of great guys who work together in both practices and meets, and Coach Janiszeski makes sure we work hard and do things right.”
Janiszeski had equal praise for Hess and also raved about his “group of four.”
“Cody is injury-free and is able to have some fun and success this season,” the coach said. “And our group of four — (Stensland-Bos, seniors Ryan Oye and Austin Stroeh, along with junior Josh Friedrichsen) are running close to each other in each meet and usually finishing in a different order, which is a good thing, as it gives us good balance.”
That balance was evident again Thursday as, Stensland-Bos held off a hard closing charge from Griffin Cross (Flandreau, S.D. Indian School) and claimed fourth (18:31).
“Nathan really stepped it up today,” declared Janiszeski. “This was one of his best races.”
Oye (18:34), Stroeh (18:37) and Friedrichsen (18:49) finished within 15 seconds of each other in overall places 6, 7 and 10, respectively (5, 6, 9 team scoring).
Worthington, led by Musa’s victory, had six runners earn individual medals (top 15) and finished a solid second in the team standings with 42 points (1-8-10-11-12).
FIS was a distant third with 83 points (4-14-17-23-25), while Pipestone Area (92) and Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (126) also had complete team scores.
Adrian, with just Pater and Kody Henning (14th, 19:29), was incomplete and those two places were discounted in the team scoring.
PA sophomore Andrew Berg ran a strong race for the Arrows, finishing eighth with a time of 18:45, while senior Reed Salmon paced T-M-B (20th), clocked at 19:56.
Fissiha, Landwehr, Jirele, Stewart, Moore join Musa as medalists
Musa — who pulled away early and kept widening the gap between himself and the Pater vs. Hess duel — was satisfied with his run Thursday.
“Man, the wind was something, but I felt pretty good,” he said after winning his fifth race of the season. “My legs aren’t sore at all (he missed the first three meets of the campaign with an ailing knee) and I feel good about the kind of shape I’m getting into.
“We had some hard practices earlier this week, and I’m thinking that I am right on pace with where I want to be as far as the end of the year is concerned.”
Musa was joined in the post-race awards’ ceremony by five other Trojans, as teammates Amanuel Fissiha (ninth overall, eighth team, 18:47), Nathan Landwehr (11, 10, 18:57), Matthew Jirele (12, 11, 19:01), Ian Stewart (13, 12, 19:24) and Gordy Moore (15, 13, 19:31) also each received medals.
“Boy, I was happy with how our guys did,” WHS head coach Ken Henkels exclaimed after looking over the official results. “Six guys in the top 15, that’s pretty neat. We’re finishing close together and competing well as a pack.”
Henkels was especially pleased with the improved performance of Moore, who has been battling some respiratory problems in recent meets.
“Gordy really ran well today,” summed up Henkels. “He was closer to our top five, which was great to see.”
Worthington’s seventh runner was freshman Oliver Wolyniec (27, 24, 20:53), while the group of Zach Clark (22:00), Caleb Wede (22:03), Thomas Burns (22:13), Sam Talsma (22:41), Troy Feller (22:47) and Desalegn Zemenfes (22:47) all finished in a row in places 36-41, respectively.
“It’s a nice to have six guys all finish close to each other like that,” concluded Henkels. “I was proud of how each one of those guys ran.”
In the 1,600-meter junior high race, the Trojans had a pair of medalists (top 12) as both Cameron Jenson (7:02) and Simon Gebrehiwot (7:43) earned individual awards.
Worthington, like many area teams, will compete in Adrian’s Invitational Tuesday.