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Balance boosts Rebels to boys' Red Rock Conference cross country team title

Andy Garza of Murray County Central runs Monday afternoon on his way to a third-place finish in the Red Rock Conference boys' team cross country meet in Slayton.

SLAYTON -- Displaying exceptional team balance and getting a great lead run from Andy Garza Monday afternoon, the Murray County Rebels ran well on their home course and won the Red Rock Conference boys' team cross country championship, claiming a six-point victory over Mountain Lake Area.

The runner-up Wolverines were paced by the 1-2 individual finish of senior twins Kyle and Adam Blomgren, who clocked respective times of 18:50 and 19:00 over the ever-challenging 5,000-meter course at the Slayton Country Club, which takes the varsity boys up a steep hill twice and makes three trips up a very long incline.

But MCC -- paced by Garza's third-place individual finish (19:01), along with supporting runs by Aaron Boock (fourth, 19:36), Jack Erickson (seventh, 20:11), Jacob Boerboom (eighth, 20:54) and Chris Ellens (10th, 21:11) -- had five runners earn all-conference honors (top 10) and claimed the first-place team trophy with a low score of 26 (team places 3-4-5-6-8).

"We had good runs from all of our top five, especially from Garza up front, who was running second for much of the race," praised MCC head coach Dominick Damm, who was a two-time all-conference runner for Heron Lake-Okabena-Lakefield, helping the Silver Bullets win back-to-back team titles in 1992 and 1993. "We had our sixth and seventh runners finish ahead of Mountain Lake's fifth, which helped clinch things for us."

Nathan Beech (21:21) and Andrew Appel (21:56) finished 11th and 14th overall, respectively, to help the Rebels drive MLA's score higher.

MLA (team places 1-2-7-10-12) finished second with 32 points, while Adrian, Hills-Beaver Creek and Southwestern United were each incomplete. Southwest Christian did not have a varsity boy runner.

Adrian sophomores Taylor Recker (19:48) and Collin Kemper (19:57) finished fifth and sixth, respectively, while MLA's Daniel Nelson (ninth, 21:04) also earned all-conference individual honors.

Recker was leading the race until Kyle Blomgren took control about halfway through and extended his lead. Adam Blomgren pulled away from Garza with about 300 meters remaining and then held off MCC's lead runner, who was sprinting fast as both runners approached the chute.

Knutson leads SWU to junior high title

Southwestern United eighth-grader Logan Knutson took the lead about 600 meters into the boys' junior high 1,800-meter race and won the individual title by 27 seconds, clocking a time of 6:23 and leading the Wildcats (team places 1-3-5-6-7) to a 13-point win over MLA (2-4-8-10-11), 22-35 for the team championship.

In a close race for second, Southwest Christian's Cayd Den Herder (6:50) edged Adrian's Bradden Kunkel (6:51), while MLA's Emmanuel Fentanez (6:54) placed fourth.

Completing the top 10 were SWU's Mason Ellen Becker (7:03), MLA's Jackson Bonnett (7:10), the SWU trio of Braden Sipe (7:31), Jacob Rossow (7:36), Derek Rossow (7:37) and MCC's Brenden Tjeerdsma (7:47).