PREP GIRLS' CROSS COUNTRY: JCC’s Bezdicek claims Southwest Conference individual title; Luverne edges Marshall for team championshipJACKSON — Paced by stellar lead-run performances from Makayla Hohn and Madison Schandelmeier — along with much-improved runs by Anna Tofteland, Mariah Aukes, Madi Oye, Naomi Dooyema and Zayna Hustoft — the Luverne High School varsity girls’ cross country team displayed its exceptional balance and depth Tuesday afternoon and claimed the 2011 Southwest Conference championship.
By: Les Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
JACKSON — Paced by stellar lead-run performances from Makayla Hohn and Madison Schandelmeier — along with much-improved runs by Anna Tofteland, Mariah Aukes, Madi Oye, Naomi Dooyema and Zayna Hustoft — the Luverne High School varsity girls’ cross country team displayed its exceptional balance and depth Tuesday afternoon and claimed the 2011 Southwest Conference championship.
Running on a cool, windy day at the Loon Lake Golf Course in southern Jackson County, the Cardinals put all seven of their varsity runners in the chute before Marshall’s fifth girl entered.
“That was the difference,” explained LHS head coach Pete Janiszeski. “Marshall probably had us beat by a couple of points through four runners. But, when we were able to get our fifth, sixth and seventh runners ahead of their fifth, we were able to win the meet.”
Hohn, who finished a very close second overall — behind a sensational performance by Jackson County Central eighth-grader Jadin Bezdicek — was delighted with her team’s effort.
“Winning the team title was our goal,” she exclaimed after hearing of the possibility that the Cardinals had, indeed, edged the Tigers in the team standings. “I’m really happy about that, all of the girls ran good races, liked we needed to.”
Bezdicek was JCC’s only runner, so the Huskies were incomplete and Bezdicek’s No. 1 finish did not figure in the team scoring.
Hohn received the top placement in the team tallies, as she led the Cardinals (1-3-8-12-15) to a narrow three-point victory over the Tigers (2-4-7-9-20), 39-42.
Redwood Valley (6-10-11-19-23) finished a distant third with 69 points, while Windom (5-16-22-26-27) outran Worthington (13-14-21-28-29) by nine points for fourth, 96-105.
Pipestone Area had just four runners and joined JCC as an incomplete team at the bottom of the standings.
Three-girl individual race narrows down to Bezdicek-Hohn duel
Hohn, who won her last race on the Loon Lake course (Sept. 22) by a 19-second margin over Bezdicek, took the early lead Tuesday — with Bezdicek and Marshall senior Rebecca Fedde right behind.
As the 4,000-meter race progressed, that lead trio separated from the rest of the 54-runner field and the chase for the individual title appeared to be a three-way battle.
Hohn and Bezdicek, however, were able to continue to push a fast pace and began to pull away from Fedde as the leaders entered the final 800 meters.
With about 400 meters left, it was clearly a two-girl race at the front between Bezdicek and Hohn.
“She caught me with maybe about a quarter mile to go,” explained Hohn about the end of the race. “I tried to stay right with her, but she had a nice surge and got a ways ahead.
“I was chasing her hard all the way to the finish, but wasn’t able to catch her — she (Bezdicek) just ran an awesome race. I think I ran pretty well today, too, but she was just better.”
Bezdicek, who helped JCC win the conference title last season with an individual eighth-place finish, clocked a winning time of 15:06 as she again set a new JCC school record.
“This feels really good,” Bezdicek said about winning the individual conference title. “My plan was to stick right behind her (Hohn) and let her block the wind as much as possible. I had some energy left and was able to ‘kick’ a long ways to the finish.
“She was chasing me hard the whole way, but with so many of our fans cheering me on, I was able to stay pumped up and keep sprinting all the way in.”
“Jadin’s really learning how to race,” praised JCC co-head coach Brad Strom. “She is coming off of two weeks of real good training and she is ‘peaking’ at the right time. This was a very strong performance by her.”
Schandelmeier, Tofteland, Aukes, Oye complete LHS scoring
Hohn was closing hard and clocked a second-place time of 15:07, repeating her runner-up performance from a year ago.
“Another very fine race by Makayla,” summed up Janiszeski. “Both her and Madison have been consistent for us as front runners, and today, each one of our 3-7 girls ran much better than they did a week ago at Adrian, which was really the key to our success in this meet.”
Fedde finished third (15:26) to lead Marshall, while Schandelmeier — who ran alone for most of the race — was a solid fourth (15:47), holding off a late charge by Marshall’s Rose Anderson (15:52), who finished fifth.
Windom senior Meredith Hentges progressively passed runners in the late stages of the race and earned all-conference honors with an impressive sixth-place finish, clocked at 15:54.
“I am pleased,” Hentges said following the award’s ceremony. “I was moving up and when I got in the mix for 6-7-8, I was able to find something — a kick — and bring it in strong. I really wanted to earn all-conference (top seven). It feels really good and I ran sub-16, which is always a goal.”
Redwood Valley freshman Kayla Huhnerkoch, an outstanding 800 and 1,600-meter runner for the Cardinals in spring track, placed seventh (15:58), claiming the final all-conference medal.
Marshall’s Haley VanKeulen (16:02), Tofteland (16:17) and Marshall’s Claire Boersma (16:24) finished in the next three places, completing the overall top-10.
“As our third runner, Anna did a great job, finishing just one place behind Marshall’s third and ahead of their fourth,” explained Janiszeski. “That was important, and then both Mariah and Madi came through strong to complete our scoring.
“But getting both Naomi and Zayna ahead of Marshall’s fifth runner is what really clinched it for us. This really was a complete team effort by our girls.”
After a pair of Redwood Valley girls finished 11-12, Aukes (16:38) earned honorable mention all-conference honors (places 8-14) by placing 13th overall (12th in the team scoring) as Luverne’s fourth runner.
But, as well as the Cardinals top four had run, Marshall had the edge, 22-24, through each team’s top four.
It takes five places, however, to get a cross country team score and Oye (16:55) finished five team places ahead of Marshall’s fifth girl, turning the tables on the Tigers and turning a two-point loss into a three-point win.
“Not only did Madi finish five places and 23 seconds ahead of Marshall’s fifth, but both Dooyema (17:08, 17) and Hustoft (17:09, 18) came in before her (Marshall’s fifth), too, pushing their score higher.”
The Cardinals have a pair of sophomores (Hohn and Tofteland), one freshman (Dooyema, one eighth-grader (Oye) and three seventh-graders (Schandelmeier, Aukes and Hustoft) on their top seven.
After claiming a conference title, the young squad will prepare to make a strong challenge for a state-meet qualification by finishing as one of the top two teams at next week’s (Oct. 27) Section 3A meet at Adrian.
“We feel good about our chances, but we will take nothing for granted,” summed up Janiszeski. “It helps to have seven girls running well — it gives us a better chance to get five good scores next week.”
Moore, Darling both finish in top-15, run course under 17 minutes
Worthington’s consistent lead duo of eighth-grader Meredith Moore and freshman Alicia Darling, again entered the chute nearly simultanousely with identical times of 16:47 in overall finish places 14 and 15, with Moore claiming the final all-conference honorable mention ribbon.
“Those two really ran well again,” praised WHS head coach Ken Henkels. “With the windy conditions, those are great times and, considering how tough our conference is, those places are really good, too. I thought that both Meredith and Alicia had nice runs all the way through.”
Junior Stephanie Jaycox was the Trojans’ third finisher Tuesday, clocking a time of 17:27, as she passed several runners in the late stages of the run and finished 22nd (21st team).
“Stephanie ran a good time and caught some kids,” Henkels declared. “She’s been steady and Ariana Lopez has kind of become a solid fourth runner for us, and Jennifer Majerus did a great job as our fifth runner.”
Lopez (32, 28, 19:05) and Majerus (34, 29, 19:23) completed Worthington’s scoring, while Sade Potter (39, 32, 19:53) and Kinzie Myrom (43, 33, 20:19) rounded out the Trojans’ top seven.
Henkels noted that at last year’s conference meet, Majerus finished 57th as Worthington’s 11th runner.
“Jenny improved 23 places and moved up six spots on our team,” concluded Henkels. “That’s a pretty significant improvement for a senior girl to make.”
In the 1,600-meter junior high race, Worthington’s Rachel Koller earned a fourth-place ribbon with a time of 6:50,
Windom, which had seven of the top-nine finishers, won the team title in dominating fashion.
Seventh-graders Kara Thompson (6:36) and Christianna Green (6:38) paced the Eagles with a one-two finish at the front.