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PREP CROSS COUNTRY: ML/B-O girls run away with Eagle Invitational

Aaron Hagen/Daily Globe Windom's Emily Grandprey (right) runs ahead of Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin's Karina Fast (left) and Petra Nelson during Monday's cross country meet in Windom.1 / 3
Aaron Hagen/Daily Globe Tracy-Milroy-Balaton's Joe Hook (right) runs head of Windom's John Curley during Monday's cross country meet in Windom.2 / 3
Tracy-Milroy-Balaton's Karli Tholen strides along during her eighth-place run Monday afternoon at the Windom Country Club.3 / 3

WINDOM -- Getting exceptional balance among its top five runners, Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin claimed an impressive team victory in the girls' division of the eight-team Eagle Invitational cross country meet Monday afternoon at the Windom Country Club.

The Wolverines had five finishers among the top 12 runners in a 68-competitor field, and easily won the team title with a low score of 31 points.

Later, St. James -- which had the winning individual performance in each race -- used similar balance to win the boys' team championship with 43 points.

In the girls' meet, Windom was second with 58 points, followed by St. James (69), Springfield/Cedar Mountain (87), Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial (146) and Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (149). Pipestone Area and the combination of Sleepy Eye Public, Sleepy Eye St. Mary's and New Ulm Cathedral were both incomplete.

Cheyenne Bower, a sophomore from St. James, won the 4,000-meter race with a time of 16 minutes, 13 seconds and Kari Schumacher from SE/SESM/NUC was second, clocked at 16:19.

Schumacher just held off ML/B-O's Karina Fast (16:20) in the final kick, but Fast paced her team's winning effort with a season-best performance.

"I so much like running in a pack," declared a happy Fast after the race. "I like this cooler weather and this is a nice flat course. It's nice to have a meet close to home and, here, everyone gets lots of chances to cheer us on."

After warmer than usual temperatures all of last week, the runners were greeted with overcast and cool conditions Monday, which helped performances and also pleased many spectators -- as did the layout of the course.

"As a spectator, I love this course," declared ML/B-O's Tim Herrig after he was finished congratulating his daughter Karen, who ran the course in 16:40 and placed seventh as the Wolverines' third finisher.

"This course is so spectator-friendly," beamed Karen's mother Renee. "This was just great, the weather was nicer and I am just proud of all of our runners."

Finishing between Fast and Herrig, were Windom's Meredith Hentges (16:32), ML/B-O's Sierra Harder (16:34) and S/CM's Emily Schultz (16:38) in places four, five and six, respectively.

T-M-B's Karli Tholen finished right on Herrig's heels in eighth place with a time of 16:41.

Then, Petra Nelson gave the Wolverines their fourth consecutive odd number card (3-5-7-9) when she claimed ninth, clocked at 16:52.

"It felt good to run again," said Nelson, who was ML/B-O's lead runner in the team's first two meets before missing the last race following oral surgery.

Her father, Wolverine head coach Mike Nelson, noted that missing several days of running took some of the edge off his daughter, but he was glad to have her back in the line up.

"That just shows how much practice helps keep you sharp and keep you in shape," Coach Nelson said. "But, you talk about a great effort by our girls (Monday). Karina and Sierra each ran another solid race, and Karen Herrig had one of her best performances ever -- she was very close to Sierra. And then after Petra came in as our fourth runner, our fifth girl, Nadya Bucklin, came through with a nice performance, too."

Bucklin sealed the ML/B-O victory by finishing 12th with a time of 17:29.

Windom's Emily Grandprey (17:01) was 10th, and Eagle teammates Kelcey Olson (17:43), Amy Green (17:52) and Kylie Willard (18:08) finished 15th, 16th and 18th, respectively.

Hoflock, Curley finish 2-3 in boys' race

While St. James runner Johnathan Surber won the boys' 5,000-meter race in a time of 17:34, T-M-B's Jeremy Hoflock gave the gold-medalist a challenge all the way to the finish.

Hoflock, who plays on T-M-B's baseball team in the spring, clocked a personal best time of 17:35 and nearly won the race, as he and Surber pulled away from a tight pack of nine front runners over the final 2,000 meters.

"That was my best finish ever in cross country," said Hoflock after he was done congratulating the rest of the runners as they came through the chute. "This was a fun course, nice and flat without any big hills to wear you down."

Windom's John Curley also turned in a varsity career-high placing, as he ran with that lead pack from the early going and was able to break away and claim third with a time of 18:11.

"That's the best I've done," Curley said after accepting his bronze medal at the post-race awards ceremony. "I just tried to really push myself and was able to stay with the lead pack early and get myself into good position to move up."

T-M-B's Joe Hook (seventh, 18:21) and Reed Salmon (12th, 18:44) also finished among the individual medalists and helped the Panthers take second in the team standings with 83 points.

ML/B-O, paced by an outstanding run by freshman Adam Blomgren (ninth, 18:30) was third with 94 points, followed by SE/SESM/NUC (115), Windom (142), S/CM (142), PA (148) and LCWM (162).

Completing the scoring for the Wolverines were Mark Harder (16th, 19:03), Kyle Blomgren (18th, 19:14), Ronald Clarke (24th, 19:56) and Nathan Dukes (27th, 20:15).

T-M-B's Andrew Vroman (20:16), Aric Carpenter (20:41) and Jesse Miller (20:41) finished 29th, 33rd and 34th, respectively in the 69-runner field, while Windom's Ryan Vesey (20:24), James Burton (20:32), Brannon Peterson (20:55) and Ryan Helmoski (20:56) took places 30, 32, 38 and 39, respectively.

PA was paced by the runs of Justin Isle (19:23) and Lyndon Hazelton (19:28) who finished 21st and 22nd, respectively.

Fairmont Invitational

FAIRMONT -- The Adrian girls' cross country team scored 47 points Monday, edging Fairmont for the team title at the Fairmont Invitational.

The Cardinals scored 49 points.

Jordin Kopplow finished third overall in 14 minutes, 46 seconds to lead the Adrian runners.

Megan Sauer was fifth overall in 15:14, while Nicole Slater was seventh in 15:45. Morgan Wieneke finished 13th in 16:14.

A group of three runners all finished together.

Hunter Hieronumus was 19th in 16:41, while Morgan Sauer was 20th in 16:43 and Alissa Sauer was 21st in 16:43.

On the boys' side, Brandon Valley scored a perfect 15 to win the meet.

Adrian scored 88 to tie with Fairmont for third. However, on the tiebreaker, the Cardinals edged the Dragons.

Jordan Pater finished sixth individually in 17:04, while Nate Reyne was ninth in 17:18.

Ethan Olson was 24th in 18:19, while Justin Feit was 25th in 18:20.

Jase Pater finished 32nd in 18:33, while Zach Runia was 36th in 18:37. Ross Wieneke was 37th in 18:41.

Adrian will travel to Milaca Saturday.