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Luverne girls, JCC boys win team titles at Loon Lake meet

LOON LAKE -- Getting strong runs from all five scoring runners, both the Luverne girls and the Jackson County Central boys claimed team titles Thursday at Jackson's Subway Invitational Cross Country Meet, held at the Loon Lake Golf Course, southwest of Jackson.

Luverne, paced by the individual gold medal run of Lexi Jo Heitkamp, won the girls' meet with a low score of 46 -- finishing 17 points ahead of second-place Blue Earth Area (63) and third-place Windom/Southwestern United (66).

Later, JCC utilized a trio of top 10 places to win the boys' team title with 45 points, nipping runner-up BEA (53) by eight and third-place Martin County West (77) by 22 points.

A total of 11 teams participated in the meet, which had 106 runners complete the girls'4,000 meter course and 95 boys finish the 5,000 meter race.

Running on a warm and windy day, Heitkamp covered the distance in an excellent time of 15 minutes, 39 seconds -- winning the girls' race by 40 seconds.

W/SWU's Chelsea Garrison and Worthington's Kaitlin Gerber finished a strong two-three with respective times of 16:19 and 16:22, while a pair of BEA runners claimed places four and five.

"Kaitlin ran another good race," praised Trojan head coach Mike Traphagen. "She continues to be consistent and competitive."

Two other area girls that finished among the top 10 were Luverne's Allison Henke (seventh, 16:34) and W/SWU's Cassie Cselovszki (10th, 16:49).

The Cardinals won the meet with places 1-7-11-12-15, as Heitkamp and Henke received strong support from Paige Nath (11th, 16:52), McKayla Schilling (12th, 16:53) and Amanda Kannas (15th, 17:02).

St. Peter was fourth in the team standings with 124 points, followed by JCC (134), Worthington (147), MCW (175) and Springfield/Cedar Mountain/Comfrey (182). Hills-Beaver Creek/Ellsworth/Edgerton, Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin and Martin Luther were each incomplete.

Worthington runners Stephanie Behrens (26th, 17:26), Allison Jaycox (28th, 17:36), Deann Naab (55th, 19:02), Junuen Velasquez (72th, 20:46) and Angela Lowe (73th, 20:48) rounded out the Trojan varsity.

After winning Worthington's Turkey Trot last week, the JCC boys utilized exceptional balance to win its second team title in eight days. The top five Huskies finished in places 4-6-10-11-14.

BEA's Mark Bartley won the race in a time of 17:26, followed by MCW"s Galeb Kruse mark (17:31).

After a BEA finished third, JCC's Matt Kocak claimed fourth with his time of 17:45, Halden Van Wyhe of Hills-Beaver Creek/Ellsworth/Edgerton was right behind Kocak, placing fifth (17:46).

Other area runners in the top 10 included JCC's Marc Strom (sixth, 18:12), H-BC/E/E's Tyler Paulsen (seventh, 18:23), H-BC/E/E's Dustin Verhey (ninth, 18:44) and JCC's Colin Fischer (tenth, 18:52).

Completing the JCC victory were Sam Hendrickson (11th, 18:55) and Justin Cook (14th, 19:14).

H-BC/E/E, paced by the top 10 finishes of Van Wyhe, Paulsen and Verhey, finished fourth in the team standings with 93 points, while Luverne (152), Worthington (162), S/CM/C (197), W/SWU (219), ML/B-O (226) and St. Peter (250) completed the boys' field of complete teams.

Worthington was led by Aaron Grafing's 15th place finish (19:18), followed by Alex Stewart (31st, 20:20), Tim Zaske (38, 20:28), Ian Fleace (42nd, 20:47), Okuich Abella (43rd, 20:47), Caleb Fellows (45th, 20:54) and Travis Pedersen (63rd, 22:23).

"Several of our boys ran their best races today," noted Traphagen. "Alex, Tim and Ian each had good runs for us."

The Trojans will run at the Murray County Central Invitational at Slayton Tuesday.