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PREP CROSS COUNTRY: MLA, RV claim team titles at Windom Meet

WINDOM -- Paced by the 2-3 finish of Whitney Klassen and Lydia Hildebrandt Monday, Mountain Lake Area earned the varsity girls' team title of the 11-team Eagle Invitational high school cross country meet at the Windom Golf Course.

The winning Wolverines tallied a low score of 40 points on team places 2-3-9-12-14 from their top five, while displaying outstanding depth by having their sixth and seventh runners' finish 15th and 16th, respectively among all runners from complete teams.

Later, Redwood Valley showed even more balance as the Cardinals dominated the varsity boys' meet -- winning by 51 points with a low score of 22.

After St. James' senior Johnathan Surber entered the chute first with a 5,000-meter time of 16:41, RV took the next four spots and clinched the lopsided victory with an eighth-place finish from its fifth runner Brett Olsen (17:52).

St. James was a distant second in the boys' team standings with 73 points, followed by Windom (91), Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial/Nicollet (110), MLA (141), Springfield/Cedar Mountain/Comfrey (149), Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (157) and Pipestone Area (176). Sleepy Eye St. Mary's/Sleepy Eye/New Ulm Cathedral and Southwest Star Concept were each incomplete.

T-M-B's Matt Lavoy (sixth, 17:44), PA's Andrew Berg (seventh, 17:51), Windom's Ryan Helmoski (11th, 18:01), Windom's Clay Elness (14th, 18:21) and MLA's Kyle Blomgren (15th, 18:22) were area runners who earned individual medals (top 15) in the 112-finisher field.

Redwood Valley's Kayla Huhnerkoch clocked an exceptional time of 14:47 to win the gold medal in the girls' 4,000-meter race, while Klassen (15:20) and Hildebrandt (15:22) led a well-balanced MLA performance, which included Briana Soutthivong (16:00), Stacey Harder (16:16), Liana Blomgren (16:30), Brooke Fast (16:34) and Karli Caviness (16:37) in its top seven.

Putting two other runners among the first nine (fourth and ninth), RV finished a solid second in the girls' standing with 53 points, followed by St. James (88), T-M-B (105), LCWM/N (109), PA (126) and S/CM/C 213). SESM/SE/NUC, Windom, Southwest Christian and SSC were all incomplete.

Windom's Christianna Green (11th, 16:01), PA's Livia Wallace (12th, 16:05) and T-M-B runners Elodie Tholen (13th , 16:05) and Nichole Iverson (15th, 16:23) were other area girls who took home individual medals among the total of 75 finishers.

SSC's Rachel Salentiny won the girls' junior high race with a 1,600-meter time of 6:22 and teammate MaKayla Edwards (6:46) finished third.

Other area runners who were among the top 10 were the Southwest Christian trio of Elise Ver Hey (fourth, 6:51), Emily Nerem (fifth, 6:53) and Carli Vander Top (sixth, 6:56), along with T-M-B runners Hannah Brockway (seventh, 7:03), Kristin Vogl (ninth, 7:10) and Sarita Hook (10th, 7:10).

SSC's Brianna Preston (11th, 7:10) and Windom's Faith Willard (14th, 7:17) were two other area runners who finished among the top 15.

T-M-B (20) and MLB (35) were the only two complete teams in the girls' junior high meet.

PA was dominant in the boys' junior high event, winning with a low score of 31, while St. James (74), Southwestern United (81), Redwood Valley (88), Windom (105) and MLA (138) also fielded complete teams.

Michael Suda of PA won the individual gold medal with a stellar time of 5:25, followed by teammates Lacus Griebel (second, 5:53), Emerson Winter (sixth, 5:56), Hunter Burnett (12th, 6:31) and Adam Bierstadt (15th, 6:39) in the top 15.

Three SWU runners -- Logan Knutson (fifth, 5:56), Pablo Bolanos (10th, 6:21) and Mason Ellenbecker (13th, 6:37) -- finished among the leaders of the 57-runner field, helping the young Wildcats to a third-place team performance.