DAILY GLOBE

HUTCHINSON - Worthington saw improvement Thursday at the Section 2AA cross country meet in Hutchinson, highlighted by a couple big runs on the girls’ side of the action.

Alicia Darling and Meredith Moore moved up 10 spots each from last year’s section race when they finished side-by-side as they have all season. Darling, a senior, ended her Trojans’ career with a 29th-place finish of 16:00.7 with Moore, a junior, taking 30th individually at 16:01.5. They were the top runners for Worthington among a loaded field in both the girls’ and boys’ races.

“I thought the girls ran really well,” Worthington coach Ken Henkels said. “You look at our placing (12th) and you wouldn’t think we’d be happy but it was a really packed house and it was hard to pass. Our top five runners were all under 18 minutes so I was really happy about that. We ran smart.”

Marshall finished with 61 points for the girls’ team title with Chaska right on the Tigers’ heels at 70 for second place and a state qualification. Darling and Moore led Worthington to a 12th-place team score of 301. Tess Misgen of Shakopee finished in 14:01.7 to win the girls individual championship followed by Anastasia Korzenowski, who finished in 14:25 for Chanhassen.

Matt Jirele’s 34th-place time of 17:40.9 was the top finish for the Trojan boys, followed up by Amanuel Fissiha, who took 57th at 18:06.6. That helped Worthington to a 13th-place team finish of 314 points. Chaska’s 63 was good for the team title with Shakopee also earning a spot at state with a 78. Joey Duerr of Chaska had the top individual finish when he crossed the finish line at 15:58.7. Shakopee’s Kyle Rachel was second overall at 16:13.6.

“Matt ran a really nice race,” Henkels said. “He’s been our senior leader and I thought he ran a good race in that field. It’s a nice course - the kids like how it’s laid out and all that - but it’s really tight and you’ve gotta go around trees so it’s really tough to pass. You have to kind of stick with the group that you’re in. But I was happy with how Matt ran.”

Following Darling and Moore for the Trojan girls was senior Olivia Ebbers, who took 76th in a 102-runner field with a time of 17:23.6. Jessica Darling (82, 17:43.3) and Khot Juac (84, 17:55.9) capped off the Trojans’ point total. Maria Contreras (94, 18:55.9) and Brianna Newman (101, 19:41.1) both ran solid races but did not factor into the scoring effort.

Tyler VanHove wasn’t far behind Fissiha when the junior finished his run in 18:20.8 for 64th as the third runner in from Worthington. Jacob Prunty (73, 18:37.3) and Adam Koller (86, 19:01.9) were responsible for the remainder of the Trojans’ scoring. Troy Feller (97, 19:03.5) and Nathan Schuck (19:08.2) capped off Worthington’s effort.

The Trojans graduate only two seniors on each side. Jirele and Feller were the lone seniors for the boys with Darling and Ebbers both set to graduate from the girls team. That could set up a bright future for Worthington.

“When I look ahead I’m happy with how our team competes and how they work,” Henkels said. “They’re a great group of kids so it’s hard not to like coaching them.”