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TROJAN CROSS COUNTRY: Fissiha, Spittle, Jirele finish 1-2-4 to lead balanced team victory for Trojans

BRIAN KORTHALS/DAILY GLOBE Trojan Amanuel Fissiha looks back at his closest competitor as he climbs the final hill near the finish of Thursday's Cardinal Invite in Luverne.

LUVERNE -- Running, perhaps, their best meet of the season, the amazingly well-balanced Worthington Trojans dominated the varsity boys' meet of the six-team Cardinal Invitational high school cross country meet on the athletic complex grounds west of the Luverne school buildings Thursday afternoon.

Competing for the first time this fall in cool and windy conditions, the Trojans had seven of the top-14 individual finishers and placed all five of their scoring runners among the first eight as the team outcome was not close.

Worthington freshman Amanuel Fissiha pulled ahead of senior teammate Ethan Spittle about a mile into the 5,000-meter race and won his first-ever varsity race, clocking a fine time of 17 minutes and nine seconds.

Spittle was second (17:18) and Trojan teammates Matthew Jirele (fourth, 17:51), Nathan Landwehr (sixth, 18:09) and Anthony Luft (eighth, 18:18) completed Worthington's scoring, yielding a score of 21 on finish places 1-2-4-6-8.

Gordy Moore (11th, 18:23) and Ian Stewart (14th, 18:46) completed Worthington's top seven and contributed to raising all of the other team's scores by finishing ahead of scoring runners on opposing squads.

"Across the board, our guys ran great races," praised WHS head coach Ken Henkels. "All of the boys ran faster times on the same course than they did last year -- when we had ideal weather conditions. I am really happy with how well everybody did."

Landweher, Moore and Stewart are all seniors, while Luft is a junior and Jirele is just a sophomore.

Sophomore Oliver Wolyniec (20th, 19:19) and senior Jacob Woll (25th, 19:59) also bettered the 20-minute mark, while senior Logan Waldner (27th, 20:08) and sophomore Troy Feller (30th, 20:12) came close, as 11 Trojans placed among the top 30 in the 67-finisher field.

Luverne, paced by senior Josh Friedrichsen's third-place individual finish (17:27) was a solid second in the team standings with 40 points, followed by Flandreau (South Dakota) Indian School (90), Pipestone Area (111) and Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (124). Adrian was incomplete.

Completing the scoring for the Cardinals were junior Cody Hess (fifth, 17:57), sophomore Drew Weis (seventh, 18:12), senior Nic Buss (12th, 18:45) and senior Scott Nelson (13th, 18:45).

Leading PA was remarkable seventh-grader Michael Suda (ninth, 18:20), while junior Matt Lavoy (10th, 18:23) was T-M-B's first runner.

Luverne sophomore Ethan Marshall (15th, 18:56) and Adrian sophomores Taylor Recker (16th, 19:00) and Collin Kemper (17th, 19:01) also finished among the top-20 individuals.

Worthington, Luverne, PA, T-M-B and Adrian will be among 22 teams competing in the huge Dragon Invitational at the Adrian Golf Course Tuesday.