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Turkey Trot moves to Thursday

WORTHINGTON -- A total of 12 high school cross country teams will converge on the Prairie View Golf Course this afternoon for the 40th annual running of the Worthington Turkey Trot.

After 39 years of holding the event, which began in 1968, on the Saturday morning of King Turkey Day, the meet moves to Thursday afternoon this year.

"With so many events, including the Turkey Day 10-K, on Saturday, we decided to try something different and move the cross country up a couple of days," explained meet director and WHS head coach Mike Traphagen. "This will allow the runners to take part in other Turkey Day activities Saturday."

The action begins at 4:30 p.m. with the 7th and 8th grade girls' 1,600 meter race, followed by the junior high boys' running the same course at 4:50.

The varsity girls' 4,000 meter race is scheduled to begin at 5:10 and the varsity boys' 5,000 meter event concludes the meet with a 5:40 p.m. start time.

"We look for a competitive meet with several teams challenging for top honors," Traphagen said.

Two-time defending champion Adrian is not bringing their varsity, which should open up the team chase in both the girls and boys events.

The Dragons won both girls' and boys' team titles in 2005 and 2006, but the top AHS runners are opting to compete in larger meets later this month and will not run in today's meet.

"We will be running at Milaca (Sept. 22) and at the Roy Griak Invitational (in St. Paul, Sept. 29)," explained Adrian head coach Doug Petersen. "With that schedule, we decided to just bring our younger runners to the Turkey Trot."

Hills-Beaver Creek/Ellsworth/Edgerton, Jackson County Central, Martin County West, Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin, Murray County Central, Pipestone Area, St. James, Tracy-Milroy-Balaton, Westbrook-Walnut Grove/Red Rock Central, Windom/Southwestern United and Worthington are the teams competing in the varsity races, while Adrian runners will join the others in the junior high races.

A well-balanced ML/B-O squad, paced by Karina Fast and Petra Nelson, may be the team favorite in the girls' race, while both Windom/SWU (led by the freshman duo of Chelsea Garrison and Cassie Cselovszki) and MCC (with front runners Laura Christensen and Erica Drealan) should provide strong challenges.

Individually, Christensen, Garrison, Worthington's Kaitlin Gerber, T-M-B's Karli Tholen and PA's tandem of Ann Marie Dykstra and Amanda Schoonhoven are expected to contend for individual trophies.

A young JCC squad, led by sophomores Matt Kocak and Marc Strom, looks to be among the best of the field in the boys' race. A well-balanced H-BC/E/E squad may also finish near the top and St. James is expected to bring a solid boys' team.

T-M-B's Ryan Tholen is the boys' individual favorite, coming off back-to-back victories at the Tracy and Marshall Invitationals.

Worthington sophomore Aaron Grafing could join W-WG/RRC's Forest Asp, ML/B-O's Brandon Fast, Kocak, Strom and several St. James' runners as top 10 contenders.

The girls' varsity meet record was set by T-M-B's Julie Gifford in 1999, when she ran the course in a sizzling time of 14 minutes, 35 seconds. ML/B-O's Josh Metcalf holds the boys' varsity record, running the longer course in 16:16 in 1993.