PREP GIRLS' CROSS COUNTRY: Dragons win at home meetADRIAN — Although Adrian was tasked with competing without one of its top runners in the girls’ varsity race at Tuesday’s Adrian Invitational cross country meet, the Dragons were just fast enough to fend off Marshall to take the team title.
ADRIAN — Although Adrian was tasked with competing without one of its top runners in the girls’ varsity race at Tuesday’s Adrian Invitational cross country meet, the Dragons were just fast enough to fend off Marshall to take the team title.
With Jordin Kopplow missing the race due to stress fractures in her leg, Austyn Thier stepped up as Adrian’s lead runner with a third-place time of 15:15.
“It’s hard without Jor running, but the other girls knew that they needed to step it up,” Thier said. “Our top four runners, we knew that we had to better than we normally do. We didn’t let that bother us, but in the back of our mind knowing that Jor wasn’t running, we just knew, ‘Hey, we’ve got to run this for Jor.’ It was a team effort today.”
The Dragons’ team total of 80 points was just enough to beat Marshall’s total of 87.
Luverne was third with a score of 101 behind a second-place finish by Makayla Hohn (15:05) and a fourth-place finish by Madison Schandelmeier (15:23).
Hohn was in the lead for much of the race, but was passed by Sioux Falls Roosevelt’s Alex Hess (15:02) on the final stretch.
“I actually felt really good,” Hohn said. “I tried to pull away at the mile mark, then coming up the last hill she passed me and took the lead and I couldn’t quite catch her.”
Adrian’s team score was rounded out by Nicole Slater (sixth overall, fifth team, 15:38), Megan Sauer (8, 7, 15:39), Morgan Sauer (11, 10, 15:58) and Hunter Hieronimus (65, 55, 18:10).
“We knew coming into the race that our top four still would perform well, we were looking who was going to finish in the fifth place was the thing,” Adrian head coach John Olson said. “All three girls that had a shot at that did a good enough job to get it done. We never have to worry about the girls. They always give it their best shot and that’s all that we can ask.”
Luverne’s team score was rounded out by Mariah Aukes (31, 25, 16:53), Anna Tofteland (36, 29, 17:00) and Madi Oye (50, 41, 17:26).
Area runners that also finished in the top-20 were Jackson County Central’s Jadin Bezdicek (5, 15:23), Murray County Central/Fulda’s Tiffany Gehl (7, 6, 15:39), Mountain Lake Christian’s Whitney Klassen (10, 15:59) and Windom’s Merideth Hentges (18, 14, 16:17).
MCC/F led other area teams by finishing seventh (150 points), Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin was eighth (157), Windom was ninth (250), Tracy-Milroy-Balaton was 10th (261), Worthington was 11th (274), Southwest Christian was 12th (378) and Pipestone Area was 15th (411).
The Trojans were led by Alicia Darling (38, 31, 17:01) and Meredith Moore (44, 37, 17:09).
“Alicia Darling ran a really good time,” WHS head coach Ken Henkels said. “Getting close to under 17 (minutes), that’s an amazing time for her. That’s probably one of her best races of the year. Meredith was right there too.
“I look back at what they ran last year, and Alicia ran almost a minute faster than she did last year. So did Meredith, so they both ran pretty well.”
Worthington’s team score was rounded out by Stephanie Jaycox (53, 44, 17:38), Sade Potter (93, 79, 19:26) and Ariana Lopez (97, 83, 19:39).
The Trojans also received a top performance in the junior high race by Rachel Koller, who came eighth on the 1,800-meter course with a time of 9:07.
Luverne had success in the junior varsity race, with Naomi Dooyema finishing first (17:21) and Bergin Flom finishing third (17:38).
After Tuesday, the Cardinals feel that they can compete with the Dragons when the section meet is held in Adrian on Sept. 27.
“We feel like we can compete with them a lot better this year,” Hohn said. “We’ve got a couple of new girls that are really fast that are doing really good, so we’re excited to see how we can do in the section.”
With Hohn and Schandelmeier proving that they can compete near the top of any race, LHS head coach Pete Janiszeski said that the girls’ just need to focus on tightening up the overall spread between the team’s runners.
“We just need to tighten up our pack a little bit,” Janiszeski said. “We’ve got about two and a half weeks to get in there and tighten up our pack and improve our performances and we’ll see.”
Adrian will continue to rely on Thier to provide a spark for the team during what has been an outstanding senior year for her.
“I’ve been so pumped with my senior season,” Thier said. “I’ve been running real well. I’ve broken my career best time a couple of times, so this is the best I’ve been running. It’s been good.”
Even with Kopplow’s ability to race at the section meet in doubt, Olson said that Thier possesses the right character to be a strong leader as the Dragons attempt to defend their Red Rock Conference title on Monday and their section title the following Thursday.
“She is a leader all the time,” Olson said. “Even though Jordin will beat her in most of the races, Austyn is a leader type. It’s sort of in her nature to step up and take the lead role like that.”
The Southwest Conference meet will be held in Jackson on Tuesday and the RRC conference meet will be held in Slayton on Monday.
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