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PREP BOYS' CROSS COUNTRY: Musa runs away with Turkey Trot title

Aaron Hagen/Daily globe Worthington's Mubarik Musa pushes himself toward the finish line during Thursday afternoon's Turkey Trot cross country race in Worthington.1 / 3
Aaron Hagen/ Daily Globe Murray County Central/ Fulda's Alex Solheim (left), Adrian's Jase Pater (middle) and Jackson County Central's Ben Kocak run during Thursday's cross country race at Prairie View Golf Links in Worthington.2 / 3
Aaron Hagen/Daily GLobe ML/B-O's Adam (left) and Kyle Blomgren run during Thursday's meet.3 / 3

WORTHINGTON -- Once again displaying exceptional team balance and a pair of strong lead-run performances, Martin County West repeated as the Turkey Trot boys' team champions, winning a close battle over both Worthington and St. James, Thursday afternoon at Prairie View Golf Links.

The Mavericks, who won last year with a score of 69, improved 16 points this year and claimed the title with a low score of 53 -- on team places 3-5-13-14-18.

Worthington, meanwhile, outraced St. James by a very narrow margin, 57-59, repeating as meet runner-up.

Last year, the Trojans were second with 83 points.

"We were really motivated to come back here and win this meet again," exclaimed a very happy MCW head coach Stannetta Svoboda after the post-race awards ceremony. "We did graduate two very good runners from last year, but we have a solid program going and wanted to prove that we have a good team this year, too."

Leading the charge for the Mavericks was senior Adam Kleine, who ran with Worthington's Mubarik Musa and St. James' John Surber at the front of the 103-finisher field during the first 1,500 meters of the 5,000-meter race.

Running his first race of the season, Kleine covered the distance in 17 minutes and 18.3 seconds, finishing third.

Backing up Kleine were junior Walter Fuller (sixth, fifth teamwise, 17:54) and a trio of freshmen Dylan Brockman (18:27), Jonah Mayo (18:28) and Matthew Viesselman (18:52) who finished 13th, 14th and 18th, respectively in the team scoring.

Sixth-runner Chris Kahler, another freshman, also ran the course under 19 minutes, clocking a 24th overall place (21, team) time of 18:58.

"It was just a nice all-around effort by all of our guys," praised Svoboda. "Both Adam and Jonah were running in their first meet of the season, so it really helped having them out there on the course."

Musa pulls away on second mile, stretches lead, runs 16:24

While MCW was winning the team chase, Musa left little doubt as to who the individual champion was.

After running with Klein and Surber for most of the first mile, Musa made a surge and began to pull away.

"We were running together for about 1,500 meters or so," exclaimed Musa after the race. "We were talking and even telling jokes. But, then I made my move and was able to break away. I was expecting a challenge because both of those guys are pretty good."

But neither was able to go with Musa, who steadily widened the gap and ended up winning by 29 seconds with a splendid early-season time of 16:24.8.

"That's all right for now," Musa said about his time. "My knee is feeling fine and I was able to push the pace without feeling much pain (he missed the first three meets of the season with tendonitis in his left knee). I just need to really work on keeping my pace and running with a steady rhythm."

"He's one of a kind," WHS head coach Ken Henkels said of Musa. "Mubarik is a natural, graceful runner -- who works hard in practice and takes his training seriously."

Surber finished a solid second with a time of 16:53.7, leading the Saints, who also had top-10 performances from both Zuriel Chacon (fifth, fourth, 17:47) and Zach Christenson (eighth, seventh, 18:04).

Worthington, however, countered St. James' top three by putting all five of its scoring runners in the chute before the Saints' fourth finisher.

The Trojans finished in team places 1-8-15-16-17 (57), while the Saints went 2-4-7-22-24 (59).

"We were able to beat St. James by getting our 3-4-5 pack several places ahead of their fourth and fifth guys," exclaimed Henkels. "That was really the key. We needed a couple guys up a few more spots to get MCW, but what a great, competitive meet this was."

Eighth-grader Amanual Fissiha was Worthington's second finisher Thursday. Competing in his fourth varsity race, Fissiha claimed a Turkey Trot individual trophy by placing ninth with a time of 18:11.

"Great race by Amanuel," summed up Henkels. "He moved up as the race progressed and passed several runners, earning a top-10 finish, which is pretty good in this meet."

Locking up the Trojans' second-place team performance were the trio of junior Nathan Landwehr (18:30), freshman Matthew Jirele (18:32) and junior Ian Stewart (18:48), who finished 16th, 17th and 19th, respectively, overall.

"Getting five guys in the top 20 is really good," declared Henkels. "It was just a real nice team effort by our guys."

Stewart, who went out faster at the start than he usually does, ran especially well for the Trojans.

"Ian has been coming on the last few meets," Henkels said. "He went out a little harder at the beginning and still was able to be tough at the end. I thought that Ian really ran a great race for us."

"This was by best race," Stewart said after learning of his time and finish place. "I did get off to a fast start and was able to hold up pretty well the whole way. This should boost my confidence to go out like that again."

Worthington also received a solid sixth-runner performance from junior Gordy Moore (36, 32, 19:34), running well under 20 minutes, while freshman Oliver Wolyniec (52, 42, 20:50) was the seventh Trojan runner to enter the chute.

Zach Clark (21:33), Caleb Wede (21:43), Desalegn Zemenfes (22:04), Thomas Burns (22:12), Troy Feller (22:39), Sam Talsma (23:45), Peter Scholtes (24:16) and Levi Blanchard (25:09) also completed the varsity course for the Trojans.

Pater finishes fourth, Kocak places 7th

Individually, Adrian senior Jase Pater ran a great race, claiming the fourth-place trophy with a time of 17:32 -- improving 24 seconds and seven places from last year.

"This is the best I've felt during and after a race this season," exclaimed Pater, who ran 500 miles this summer. "I moved up a few places from eighth to fourth and wasn't passed during the last two miles."

"There's nobody that's better during the middle part of the race than Pater," declared Murray County Central/Fulda head coach Dominick Damm. "He knows how to run and just races smart."

Adrian, which finished incomplete in the team standings, also received a good run from senior Kody Henning (20th, 18:52)

Jackson County Central senior Ben Kocak ran a strong race, breaking 18 minutes for the first time and finishing seventh, leading the Huskies to a fourth-place team finish with 97 points.

"Ben ran his best time and we are improving as a team," summed up JCC co-head coach Brad Strom. "This was our best meet of the season."

The Blomgren twins -- Kyle (18:22) and Adam (18:25) -- were the top runners for Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin, finishing 10th and 13th, respectively, as the Wolverines were fifth in the team standings with 125 points.

Pipestone Area, led by Andrew Berg's 11th-place finish (18:25) was sixth (157), followed by MCC/F (175) and Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (202). Windom was incomplete.

Alex Solheim had a nice run for the Rebels, placing 12th (18:25), while Ryan Helmoski (18:44) paced the Eagles, placing 18th, and Shane Parker (44, 19:58) was T-M-B's lead runner.

Windom's Wolter gets 2nd in junior high

St. James, led by eighth-grade Noah Pinke's first-place finish, edged Pipestone Area, 27-29, for the junior high boys' team title.

Pinke ran the 1,600-meter distance in 5:37.8, just nipping Windom eighth-grader Spencer Wolter (5:39.7) and a pair of Martin County West runners.

PA's Eli Steven (5:55) and Lacus Griebel (5:59) finished fifth and seventh, respectively.