BY LES KNUTSON
TRACY -- Paced by a typical first-place performance by sophomore sensation Morgan Gehl, along with a closely-bunched finish from its next pack of four, the Murray County Central / Fulda Rebels claimed the girls’ team title of the Panther Invitational high school cross country meet at the Tracy Golf Course Thursday.
Later, Worthington junior Adam Koller and Christian Lietz ran to an impressive 1-2 finish at the front of a large pack of varsity boys’ runners as the Trojans finished a close second to Redwood Valley in the team standings.
Gehl was chased by Canby / Minneota’s Grace Drietz, but those two were far ahead of the rest of the 77 finishers, who were representing a total of 16 teams. There were 98 finishers in the boys’ race over the same challenging 5,000-meter course, which included two trips up a very steep hill.
Gehl clocked a winning time of 19:06.1, while Drietz ran the distance in 19:35.4. Redwood Valley’s Catherine Buffie (21:05.6) finished third, leading the rest of the pack.
Rebel eighth-grader Ashley Overgaauw placed 16th overall (12th in the team scoring) with a time of 22:56.1, while teammates Amanda Overgaauw (19, 14, 23:06.5), Josie Harms (20, 15, 23:15.0) and Ryanna Schreier (21, 16, 23:17.5) finished in three consecutive places, clinching the team victory for MCC / Fulda (1-12-14-15-16) with a low tally of 58 points.
“That was a nice win for our girls,” summed up Rebels’ head coach Dominick Damm, a former collegiate cross country runner at Dakota State University in Madison, S.D. “It was great to see those four -- Ashley, Amanda, Josie and Ryanna -- stick that close together the whole race.”
Canby / Minneota (2-6-10-24-25) was second in the team standings with 67 points, while Southwest Christian / Edgerton (4-13-18-21-23) also ran very well as a team, finishing third with its score of 79.
Leading the Eagles was Mikayla Johnson who ran a fourth-place time of 21:23.0. Teammates Ella Veldkamp (23:00.8), Audra Homandberg (23:43.4), Mara Fick (23:51.4) and Sydney Van Essen (23:54.1) completed the scoring for SWC / E in team places 13, 18, 21 and 23, respectively.
Springfield / Cedar Mountain was fourth with 104 points, followed by Redwood Valley (123), Worthington (133), Adrian (171) and Sleepy Eye Unified (190). Pipestone Area, Windom Area, Tracy-Milroy-Balaton, BOLD, Lakeview, MACCRAY / Renville County West, Wabasso and Central Minnesota Christian were all incomplete, without five finishing runners.
Other area individuals who placed among the top 15 overall finishers were Adrian’s Moriah Bullerman (fifth, 21:31.9), Worthington’s Sena Uli (eighth, 21:59.1), Windom’s Gracie Bucher (ninth, 22:00.3) and Pipestone’s Jonna Strasser (12th, 22:19.7)
Backing up Uli’s lead-run effort for the Trojans were Maranda Thier (23:51.8), Jenna Hoffman (24:16.3), Madison Schaeffer (25:10.1) and Nedoh Gyi (26:16.4) in team places 22, 28, 35 and 40, respectively.Koller, Lietz, Huber pace WHS boys
Koller won his second meet title of the season with his time of 17:08.7 as he progressively stretched his lead over Lietz (17:29.7) and Redwood Valley’s Jayson Peyrel (17:44.9). Springfield’s Mitchel Buerkle (17:50.7) and Worthington senior Andrew Huber (17:54.1) also ran at the front of the pack as the top five finished well before RV’s Mason Clark (18:12.0) entered the chute in sixth place.
Those lead runs by Peyrel and Clark, along with three others in the top 18, helped the Cardinals (3-6-7-17-18) edge the Trojans (1-2-5-13-36) by six points, 51-57, in the team standings.
Canby / Minneota nipped MCC / Fulda by three points, 84-87, for third place, while Pipestone was a distant fifth with 144 points. Springfield (179), Lakeview (207), Windom (216), SWC / E (234), Sleepy Eye (246), MACCRAY (274) and Wabasso (348) also fielded complete scores, while T-M-B, CMC, BOLD and Adrian were each incomplete.
Other area boys who finished among the first 15 were MCC / Fulda’s Justin Clarke (eighth, 18:19.3), PA’s Seth Lingen (10th, 18:28.3), Windom’s Gil Parent (12th, 18:45.0), Worthington’s Tad Stewart (13th, 18:47.9) and MCC / Fulda’s Nathan Everson (15th, 18:58.5).
Worthington’s fifth finisher was Blaine Doeden (37th overall, 36th in team scoring) with a time of 19:57.0, while teammates Davis Moore (39, 37, 20:04.8) and Alec Langerud (40, 38, 20:07.7) were close behind, giving the Trojans seven runners among the top 40.Bakke, Alm win JV races
Windom Area sophomore Cameron Alm ran a blistering time of 15:37.8 to easily win the boys’ junior varsity 4,000-meter race, finishing 22.2 seconds ahead of Worthington eighth-grader Mikele Walu (16:00.0) and more than a minute before a runner from Redwood Valley came in third (16:40.7).
MCC / Fulda eighth-grader Megan Bakke utilized a strong finishing effort to win a close race up front in the girls’ JV race over the same course. Bakke’s winning time was 19:57.9, while Pipestone’s Pape Kelly (19:28.2) was right on her heels in second place. The third place time was 20:24.3.
Pipestone’s Zoe Velde was fourth (20:35.4), followed by SWC / E’s Hannah Nerem (20:47.2), Worthington’s Nicole Wede (20:47.3), Pipestone’s Hope Wallace (20:54.6), Pipestone’s Nora Wallace (20:57.8) and SWC / E’s Madie Nelson (21:15.4) in places 5-9, respectively.
SWC / E won the girls’ JV team title with 43 points (2-4-9-12-16).
Worthington’s Jake Ahrenstorff (16:52.8) was fourth in the boys’ race and Pipestone’s Pottratz Carter (17:10.8) was eighth, followed by a pair of MCC / Fulda runners Isaiah Kathman (ninth, 17:14.1) and Cale Engelkes (10th, 17:21.7).
Four Trojans -- Damon Schutz (17:24.1), Charlie Brands (17:26.6), Alejandro Bernal (17:37.2) and Ben Schreiber (17:37.9) -- captured the next four places, helping Worthington secure second place in the team standing with 37 points, just five behind Redwood Valley’s winning total of 32.
Four area girls and four area boys finished among the top eight in their respective junior high races over a 2,000-meter course.
Pipestone runners Brooklyn Goelz (second, 8:13.4), Avery Brecher (fifth, 8:35.3) and Naomi Wallace (seventh, 8:45.2) led the Arrow girls to the team title (43 points), while MCC / Fulda’s Brylei Schreier was fourth with her time of 8:28.1.
Pipestone’s Caden Strasser (fourth, 7:28.4), Worthington’s Mathius Noble (fifth, 7:35.3), Pipestone’ Bode Bruns (sixth, 7:35.0) and Windom’s Jacob Green (eighth, 7:39.4) were among the leaders in the boys’ race which had a total of 78 finishers.