FAIRMONT - Four Heron Lake-Okabena runners and a trio of Jackson County Central athletes earned individual medals Friday morning at the 12-team Early Bird Invitational high school cross country meet in Fairmont, which featured separate races by grade level.
HL-O freshman MaKayla Edwards edged classmate Rachel Salentiny in a close race up front with Fairmont’s Iliana Ramon in the 9th-grade girls’ race, covering the 4,000-meter distance in 16 minutes flat.
Salentiny (16:01.4) and Ramon (16:05.2) finished second and third, respectively, while JCC’s Jessica Christoffer was a strong fourth (16:23.8) among the field of 32 finishers and HL-O’s Brianna Preston (fifth, 17:53.7) claimed the final freshman girls’ medal.
HL-O sophomore Logan Knutson pulled away and convincingly won the 21-finisher 10th-grade boys’ 4,000-meter race with a time of 14:58.7, while JCC’s Carter Heinrichs placed fourth in the same race (16:06.3).
JCC’s Jadin Bedzicek claimed the second-place medal in the girls’ 11th-grade race, running the same course in 17:40.5.
Edwards, who finished 35th in last year’s Class A state meet, nipped a pair of state-ranked runners for the fastest girls’ time of the day Friday.
Tierney Winter, a junior who runs for the combination of Waterville-Elysian-Morristown and Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton, won the 11th-grade event with a time of 16:00.5. Winter finished seventh in last year’s state meet and is ranked fifth among all Minnesota Class A girls in this year’s pre-season poll released by the state coaches association.
Salentiny, who finished 13th at the 2013 state meet, is currently ranked ninth in that same poll.
The fastest boys’ time of the meet was 13:43.4, clocked by John Roth, a junior who runs for Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial/Nicollet.
LC-WM/N won the boys’ team title by a mere point over St. James, 22-23, while Blue Earth Area was third with 26 points in the uniquely-scored meet which combined a team’s best five places among all four races.
Fairmont easily won the girls’ meet with a low score of 12. W-E-M/J-W-P was second with 24 points and JCC finished third with 32.
A total of 76 runners completed the girls’ races and 103 boys crossed the finish line.