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Cross country: Luverne girls, MCW boys win at Loon Lake

Les Knutson

Daily Globe

JACKSON —Claiming three of the top-four overall places Thursday, the Luverne Cardinals won the girls’ team title of the nine-squad Jackson County Central Invitational high school cross country meet at the Loon Lake Golf Course.

Later, an exceptionally well-balanced Martin County West squad put all five of its scoring runners among the first 10 finishers in the boys’ race and earned first-place team honors with a low score of 32 points.

Worthington, led by individual champion Amanual Fissiha, along with medalist performances by Matt Jirele (third) and Anthony Luft (eighth), finished a solid second in the boys’ team standings with 47 points.

Luverne’s girls were especially impressive up front, as freshman Madison Schandelmeier breezed to the individual title with a 4,000-meter time of 15:09.

Senior teammate Makayla Hohn (15:49) held off a strong challenge from upcoming Southwestern United eighth-grader Rachel Salentiny (15:52) for second, while Luverne freshman Mariah Aukes claimed fourth overall (third in the team scoring, as SWU was incomplete) with her time of 16:00.

Luverne’s winning total of 47 points (1-2-3-18-23) was 32 ahead of second-place Mountain Lake Area (79), which was led by senior Whitney Klassen’s sixth-place overall finish (16:17)

Worthington, paced by the steady-running duo of junior Alicia Darling and sophomore Meredith Moore, was third in the girls’ team standings with 90 points, followed by JCC (96), MCW (104), Blue Earth Area (116), Windom (159) and Springfield (196).

The other individual medalists in the varsity girls’ race were MCW freshman Brooke Anderson (fifth, 16:16), SWU eighth-grader MaKayla Edwards (seventh, 16:20), Windom freshman Christianna Green (eighth, 16:21), Darling (ninth, 16:29) and Moore (10th, 16:29).

MLA juniors Lydia Hildebrandt (17:08) and Brianna Soutthivong (17:14) finished 13th and 14th overall, respectively, followed by the JCC trio of Annika Lilleberg (17:22), Jayni Anderson (17:29) and Samanatha Swift (17:32).

Completing Worthington’s scoring were eighth-grader Jessica Darling (17:42), junior Olivia Ebbers (18:31) and eighth-grader Brianna Newman (18:38) in respective team places 19-26-30.

“Our girls ran well,” summed up WHS head coach Ken Henkels. “Alicia and Meredith had nice lead runs and finished among the medalists. Jessica and Olivia continue to be consistent and Brianna ran really well, becoming a varsity scorer for the first time.”

Trojan boys take three of top eight places

In the boys’ race, the individual chase was a four-way battle between Fissiha, Jirele, MCW’s Jonah Mayo and Luverne’s Cody Hess with Fissiha breaking loose on the final mile and winning his second straight meet title, clocking a 5,000-meter time of 17:28.

Mayo led the Mavericks (2-5-6-9-10) with his second-place time of 17:34.

Jirele, who led for a stretch early in the race, was a solid third (17:40), followed by Hess (17:45), who led Luverne to a third-place team finish with 74 points.

JCC (114) was fourth in the varsity boys’ standings, followed by Windom (137), MLA (145), Springfield (183) and BEA (183). SWU was incomplete.

Completing the top-10 individual medalists were Matthew Viesselman (17:57) and Dylan Brockman (18:02) of MCW, Luverne’s Drew Weis (18:15), Luft (18:20) and Nick Holm (18:21) and Joshua Bjerken (18:28), both of MCW.

Luverne’s Ethan Marshall (18:43) finished 11th, giving the Cardinals three of the first 11.

SWU’s Logan Knutson (14th, 19:07), Windom’s Clay Elness (15th, 19:16), JCC’s Peter Nasby (16th, 19:20) and MLA’s Tommy Kraemer (17th, 19:24) were the lead runners for their respective teams, all finishing in the top 20 percent of the 88-runner field.

Completing Worthington’s scoring were eighth-grader Jacob Prunty (19:25) and junior Troy Feller (19:29), who finished 18th and 19th overall, respectively, followed by Tyler VanHove (23rd, 20:01) and Zach Clark (28th, 20:25) as the Trojans’ top seven.

“This was a really good meet for our boys,” summed up Henkels. “We had three of the top eight and then had strong runs from both Jacob and Josh —who each finished in the top 20 and are still improving —to give us a good team score.”

Luverne seventh-grader Gabrielle Ferrell won the girls’ 1,600-meter junior high race (5:59), while JCC —led by Jessica Christoffer (second, 6:09) and Molly Boyum (third, 6:21) —claimed the team title with 17 points.

MLA’s Reynaldo Capetillo (5:18) outkicked MCW’s Ramon Bowie (5:23) to win the boys’ junior high race.

Worthington placed second as a team (behind MCW, 48) with 58 points, led by Nathan Schuck (5:40) and Andrew Olsen (5:49) who placed third and fourth, respectively.

Many of the teams who competed at Loon Lake will run at Slayton Tuesday in the annual Murray County Central Invitational.