MINNETRISTA --- Again running on the cross country course at the Gale Woods Farm Thursday, Worthington’s Adam Koller qualified for a repeat trip to next week’s Class AA state meet, placing an impressive seventh out of 111 finishers and leading the Trojan boys to a stellar fourth-place performance among 16 competing teams.

Koller, a junior, ran the 5,000-meter distance in a personal-record (PR) time of 16:24.2, more than 23 seconds faster than his 13th-place time of 16:47.8 in 2017 on the same course.

Putting three other runners among the top 22, Worthington made a huge jump in the team standings, improving eight places and 166 points from a year ago when the Trojans were 12th in the section meet with 280 points.

This year, Worthington (7-17-18-22-50) tallied 114 points and convincingly finished ahead of a pair of teams (Mankato East and Waconia) who had defeated the Trojans during the season.

Buffalo (1-3-9-13-20) repeated its team championship with 46 points, while a well-balanced Willmar squad (8-12-16-24-26) also qualified its team for the state meet with a runner-up total of 86 --- just nipping Chanhassen (2-4-5-35-44), which finished third with 90 points despite having three of the top-five finishers.

Backing up Kollers’s lead-run effort were senior Andrew Huber (17th, 16:52.3), junior Christian Lietz (18th, 16:53.7), eighth-grader Mikele Walu (22nd, 17:01.4) and sophomore Jordan Melendez (50th, 17:33.0). Seniors Tad Stewart (78th, 18:02.8) and Blaine Doeden (98th, 18:29.4) gave the Trojans seven exceptional performances that resulted in the strong team showing.

“Our guys were awesome,” summed up an elated WHS head cross country coach Cory Smidt. “Our top three all ran the course faster than 17 minutes and our fourth was within a second of doing the same, while all seven runners were well under 19 minutes. It was a super all-around effort by all of the boys, and Adam earned another chance to run at the state meet.”

The state meet will be run Nov. 3, once again on the campus of St. Olaf College in Northfield.

Mankato East was fifth in the team standings with 137 points, followed by Marshall (188), Waconia (196), Hutchinson (207), Chaska (228), Mankato West (284), Delano (300), New Prague (305), Orono (316), Mound Westonka (348), Shakopee (358) and Dassel-Cokato (384).

“Those are some big schools that we finished ahead of,” declared Smidt. “We beat Mankato East by 23 points, Marshall by 74 and Waconia by 82, which really indicates how well we ran as a team, improving our point total by 166 points from last year.”

Four Trojan girls run PR times

While the Worthington girls didn’t fare as well in the team standings, finishing 16th with 477 points (59-102-103-104-109), four of the Trojans ran new PR (personal-record times) Thursday.

Leading Worthington was junior Sena Uli (59th, 21:14.5), while sophomore Madison Schaefer (102, 22:48.3), freshman Jenna Hoffman (103, 22:51.2) and sophomore Maranda Thier (104, 22:52.3) finished within four seconds of each other.

Eighth-grader Cassidy Madison (109, 23:34.6) completed the scoring for the Trojans, while seventh-grader Marisa Thier (111, 24:10.7) and sophomore Nydoh Gyi (112, 25:38.5) were Worthington’s sixth and seventh runners.

“The girls each ran good races against great competition,” praised Smidt. “Schaefer, Hoffman and the Thier sisters all ran personal-best times, which was a fine way to finish out the season.”

Marshall (5-7-8-14-23) won the girls’ team title with 57 points and Willmar (6-9-18-19-20) was a close second with its score of 72.