BY LES KNUTSON
MARSHALL -- Murray County Central / Fulda sophomore Morgan Gehl cruised to her third consecutive individual title of the new season Monday at Independence Park and the consistent Worthington lead trio of Adam Koller, Christian Lietz and Andrew Huber finished 2-3-5 in the varsity boys race as a total of 14 teams competed in the Marshall Invitational high school cross country meet.
Koller came close -- very close -- to winning the boys event, finishing right on the heels of Marshall’s Zach Matzner who ran the 5,000-meter distance in 16:45.6, compared to Koller’s time of 16:46.1.
“It was close,” summed up Worthington head coach Cory Smidt. “Adam ran another super race at the front of a large pack of great runners from such high-caliber teams.”
While those two juniors ran well ahead of the others, Lietz (also a junior) claimed third (17:19.6), outkicking Marshall’s Quentin Blomme (17:24.8) and Huber (17:26.9), both seniors.
Waconia (6-9-10-13-20) displayed fine balance among its top five runners and earned the team title with 58 points, finishing eight points better than Worthington’s second-place score of 66 (2-3-5-26-30).
Marshall (1-4-14-19-37) was third in the boys team standings with 75 points, followed by Redwood Valley (85), Canby / Minneota (140), MCC / Fulda (165), Pipestone Area (200), Windom Area (220), Lakeview (253), Springfield / Cedar Mountain (263), Southwest Christian / Edgerton (291) and Wabasso (341). Yellow Medicine East was incomplete.
Other boys who finished among the top 20 were MCC junior Justin Clarke (eighth, 17:34.6) and PA sophomore Seth Lingen (18th, 18:03.1).
Mikele Walu (18:22.1), Tad Stewart (18:41.3), Jordan Melendez (18:52.2) and Blaine Doeden (19:12.1) were Worthington’s fourth through seventh finishers.
Gehl (18:45.6) was challenged a bit by Canby / Minneota freshman Grace Drietz (19:06.0), Waconia senior Kaleesa Houston (19:09.9) and Marshall junior Natalee Sample (19:12.1).
Sample paced a winning team performance by the Tigers (4-5-6-7-20) who had four of the first seven and finished with a low score of 42 points. Waconia (3-9-10-11-14) was a close second with 47 points.
MCC / Fulda (1-27-29-34-39) finished third with 130 points, aided greatly by Gehl’s winning number. Eighth-grade twin sisters Ashley and Amanda Overgaauw, clocked respective times of 22:28.9 and 22:30.3, while Josie Harms (23:16.7), Ryanna Schreier (23:43.5), Ella Stapek (23:56.0) and Khloe Gehl (24:13.5) also each ran well for the Rebels.
Canby / Minneota won a tiebreaker (sixth runner) for fourth place over Southwest Christian / Edgerton as both the Lancers and Eagles finished with 140 points. PA edged RV, 158-159, for sixth, while Springfield / CM (193), Worthington (211), Adrian (243) and Wabasso (264) also notched complete scores. Windom, YME and Lakeview were each incomplete.
Other area girls who placed among the first 20 finishers were Adrian junior Moriah Bullerman (eighth, 20:45.0), SWC / E sophomore Mikayla Johnson (12th, 21:05.4), PA senior Jonna Strasser (15th, 21:20.8) and Worthington junior Sena Uli (17th, 21:39.8), while Windom sophomore Gracie Bucher (21st, 21:57.7) just missed.
Completing the scoring, behind Uli, for the ninth-place Trojans were Jenna Hoffman (23:55.5), Maranda Thier (23:58.0), Madison Schaeffer (24:50.1) and Nedoh Gyi (26:05.8).
Four area girls placed among the first 10 finishers in the junior varsity race over the same 5,000-meter course. SWC / E seventh-grader Taylor Post (23:26.0) finished second, while PA sophomore America Diaz (fourth, 24:09.2), SWC / E eighth-grader Ellie Decker (eighth, 25:09.9) and Windom seventh-grader Emma Holtz (ninth, 25:40.6) were also in the top 10.
Worthington sophomore Damon Schutz (sixth, 20:44.9), PA junior Carter Pottratz (ninth, 20:51.1) and Worthington eighth-grader Casey Salinas (10th, 20:51.4) were the only three area boys to finish among the first 10 junior varsity boy runners.
Pipestone had five girls in the top 10 in the 2,000-meter junior high girls race, led by eighth-graders Averie Brecher (second, 8:00.0) and Brooklyn Goelz (third, 8:02.9). Seventh-graders Naomi Wallace (sixth, 8:24.0), Reina Guardado (seventh, 8:40.5) and Raegan Tibbs (eighth, 8:41.5) completed the convincing Arrows team victory. MCC / Fulda had a pair of seventh-grade girls --- Brylei Schreier (fifth, 8:17.1) and Brealyn Damm (ninth, 8:42.0) --- finish in the top 10.
Three Pipestone boys and one Windom runner finished among the first 10 in the junior high boys event. PA eighth-grader Caden Strasser (7:22.7) was third, while seventh-grade teammates Riley Bosma (7:31.2) and Bode Bruns (7:36.2) finished fifth and 10th, respectively. Eagle seventh-grader Jacob Green placed sixth with his time of 7:31.6.