ADRIAN -- As expected, Murray County Central/Fulda’s Morgan Gehl and Worthington’s Adam Koller impressively claimed individual championships in the varsity races at the 17-team Dragon Invitational high school cross country meet on the slopes of Adrian’s Golf Course Tuesday.
While both Gehl and Koller ran smoothly up front, extending their large leads as their 5,000-meter races progressed. Their teammates were also running well -- striving to place as high as possible and help get their respective team scores as low as possible.
For Koller and the Worthington boys -- who had four runners place among the first seven in the huge field of 119 finishers -- it was a most successful venture. On scoring places 1-5-6-7-16, the Trojans earned a dominating team championship with a mere 35 points -- a whopping 61 points better than Marshall’s second-place total of 96 (2-9-18-30-37).
Redwood Valley (3-10-25-36-39) was third with 113 points, followed by Pipestone Area (126), Luverne (152), Canby/Minneota (176), Windom Area (182), Jackson County Central (200), Mountain Lake Area/Comfrey (211), MCC/F (260), Heron Lake-Okabena (270), Ortonville (292) and Springfield/Cedar Mountain (319). Tracy-Milroy-Balaton, Adrian, Ellsworth and Southwest Minnesota Christian/Edgerton were each incomplete.
“Winning by that many points is a testament to our senior leadership and how hard all the kids work at getting better,” summed up WHS head coach Cory Smidt. “Adam continues to run great and sure looked strong today. Having four guys finish in the top seven is really incredible and our fifth, sixth and seventh runners all did awesome, as well. This was a great team victory for our boys.”
It was the fifth consecutive first-place finish for Koller, a senior veteran, who won by more than 20 seconds with a time of 16:47.9 on a very windy day on the open spaces of the Adrian course, which has its share of long and challenging hills.
Marshall’s Zach Matzner (17:08.3) outraced Redwood Valley’s Jayson Peyerl (17:15.6) and Springfield’s Mitchell Buerkle (17:23.9) for second, before a trio of Trojans -- senior Christian Lietz (17:36.5), freshman Mikele Walu (17:42.1) and junior Jordan Meledez (17:46.5) -- captured the next three places.
Sophomore Alec Langerud continued his steady improvement as the all-important fifth Trojan, finishing 16th with his time of 18:41.4. Freshmen Ofbeka Morke (28th, 19:09.4) and Charlie Brands (32nd, 19:12.2) gave the Trojans seven of the top 32.
Other area boys who were among the first 20 included Luverne’s Brayden Tofteland (eighth, 17:49.2), PA’s Caden Strasser (11th, 18:03.9), WA’s Patrick Green (12th, 18:18.9), PA’s Seth Lingen (13th, 18:20.4), WA’s Cameron Alm (15th, 18:30.0), Luverne’s Jonah Friedrichsen (17th, 18:43.9), MCC/F’s Lukas Stapek (19th, 18:50.4) and HL-O eighth-grader Tim Salentiny (20th, 18:54.0).
Marshall wins girls chase
While Class AA Marshall (3-6-7-10-11) displayed exceptional balance and convincingly won the girls’ team title with 37 points, the battle for second place was close between a trio of state-ranked Class A teams.
By the finish of the race, the third-ranked Murray County Central/Fulda Warriors, led by Gehl and the Overgaauw twins -- Ashley and Amanda -- emerged with a score of 67 points (1-8-9-24-25) to outrun both fourth-ranked Luverne (81) and 12th-ranked Canby/Minneota (97).
The Cardinals top five finished in team places 2-14-16-19-30, while the Lancers scored with places 4-17-23-26-27.
Redwood Valley was a distant fifth with 162 points, followed closely by PA (164) and SWMC/E (165). Springfield/CM was eighth (189), while Worthington (246), Adrian (267), MLA/C (270) and T-M-B (343) also had complete scores. Windom, JCC, Ortonville and HL-O were incomplete.
Gehl, who continues to hold second place in the Class A state ratings, broke away early and won her race by nearly 35 seconds over Luverne sophomore Tenley Nelson -- Class A’s third-ranked runner. Gehl was clocked at 19:05.5, while Nelson broke away from Marshall’s Kate Bucher and C/M’s Grace Drietz (10th ranked in Class A) as she ran the course in 19:41.1.
Bucher (19:49.3) and Drietz (19:57.6) also bettered the 20-minute mark.
“I can’t think of anything that she does not do well,” said MCC/F head coach Dominick Damm when asked about Gehl’s amazing junior season. “She prepares so well and is mentally focused to do her best. She has good speed and absolutely great endurance. Morgan is just an exceptional distance runner.”
Gehl is undefeated this fall, having won all eight of her races -- most by a very large margin.
The Warriors have won six team titles, twice finishing second to Marshall.
“Today, we ran without Josie Harms, who has usually been our fourth runner,” Damm said. “We held her out with a sore leg issue, but we had other girls, especially Brylei Schreier and Ella Stapek really step up and finish strong, helping us get a good team score in a highly-competitive big meet.”
Ashley Overgaauw (eighth, 20:50.0), Amanda Overgaauw (ninth, 20:52.2), Schreier (24th, 22:12.0) and Stapek (25th, 22:20.5) completed MCC/F’s scoring. Harms is a junior, Stapek is a sophomore, the twins are freshmen, and Schreier -- who has been coming along well in recent meets -- is just an eighth-grader.
Backing up Nelson for LHS were eighth-grader Jenna DeBates (14th, 21:08.4), junior Regan Feit (16th, 21:27.4), freshman Elizabeth Wagner (19th, 21:48.3) and eighth-grader Kayla Bloemendaal (30th, 23:07.5).
Other area girls who finished among the top 30 included Windom’s Gracie Bucher (11th, 20:53.9), SWMC/E’s Taylor Post (18th, 21:48.0), PA’s Naomi Wallace (20th, 21:48.5), Adrian’s Moriah Bullerman (21st, 22:01.0), JCC’s Olivia Anderson (27th, 22:21.2) and Windom’s Jadyn Wormstadt (29th, 22:50.4).
Worthington’s top five finishers were Madison Schaeffer (37th, 23:27.5), Maranda Thier (44th, 24:01.2), Jenna Hoffman (46, 24:04.8), Marissa Thier (59, 25:12.5) and Nicole Wede (60, 25:29.7).
The Red Rock Conference will hold its meet at the Slayton Golf Course on Oct. 14, while the Big South Conference will run its meet at Mountain Lake’s Golf Course on Oct. 15.
Mathias Noble wins JV boys’ race; Eagles Holtz,
Green top JH runners
Worthington eighth-grader Mathias Noble raced to victory in the 96-finisher junior varsity boys’ race, completing the 5,000-meter distance in a fine time of 19:18.9, just ahead of PA’s Cole Lueck (19:23.1). Worthington’s Filmon Wolday was third (19:53.7) and teammate Cooper McCoy finished seventh (20:30.9).
Marshall runners finished in the first four places in the girls’ JV race before JCC’s Rylie Cother placed fifth (23:51.8).
Windom runners Emma Holtz (9:17.8) and Arianna Boldt (9:21.6) finished 1-2 in the junior high girls’ race over a 2,100-meter course, while Worthingon’s Kendie Thiner (9:22.7) was a close third, followed by Luverne’s Maria Rops (9:23.8), T-M-B’s Mallory Hicks (9:32.1), MCC/F’s Lily Daniels (9:33.3) and Worthington’s Morgan Becker (9:34.2).
The Eagles also finished first and second in the junior high boys’ race over the same course. Windom’s Thomas Green was first (7:50.2), followed by teammate Aaden Nauman (7:53.8), Luverne’s Ryan Fick (7:59.8), Worthington’s Ethan Mahlberg (8:03.2) and Luverne’s Owen Janiszeski (8:06.3). Windom’s Charlie Smith was seventh with a time of 8:10.4.