LUVERNE - After a dominant team performance by Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd in the boys’ race, the Luverne Cardinals, paced by freshman sensation Tenley Nelson, claimed a fourth consecutive Section 3A girls’ cross country team title on a cool - and a bit wet - afternoon Thursday on Luverne’s challenging 5,000-meter course.


LQPV/D-B, the state’s fourth-ranked team, was impressive to say the least. The Eagles had all five of their scoring runners place among the first 11 of the huge field of 146 finishers from 23 teams. Junior Mike Kvaal (16:49.4) and sophomore Zeke Sather (16:51.6) led the winning charge with a 1-2 finish up front and the Eagles completed the victory with places eight, nine and 11, producing a winning total of 31 points.


Redwood Valley edged Luverne, 83-92, for second as the northern Cardinals (3-10-18-24-28) had a bit more punch up front than the well-balanced host Cardinals (12-14-21-22-23).


“We wanted to make it as a team,” said LHS senior leader Dalton DeSollar, who qualified individually as the fifth finisher not from either LQPV/D-B or RV. “It’s disappointing because we beat Redwood at our conference meet last week.”


With Nelson challenging Murray County Central/Fulda sophomore Morgan Gehl early in the girls’ race and the rest of Luverne’s scoring runners - along with their sixth - all finishing between fourth and 22nd, the Cardinals tallied a low score of 51 (2-4-10-17-18) to win the meet by 48 points over LQPV/D-B, which had a total of 99 (5-6-11-37-40).


Gehl broke away from Nelson early in the second mile and clocked an eye-opening time of 17:48.0, which would have placed her 19th in the boys’ race.


Nelson finished a strong second (18:18.2) and Canby/Minnesota freshman Grace Drietz was third (18:56.7), nearly a minute ahead of Luverne sophomore Regan Feit (fourth, 19:55.8). Those top three - Gehl (fourth), Nelson (eighth) and Drietz (ninth) - are each ranked among

Minnesota’s best Class A runners.


MCC/F (1-23-25-29-33) displayed fine balance from second through fifth, but could not offset LQPV’s strong runs from its top three and fell 12 points short of a state team-qualification with a third-place finish (111 points). Pipestone Area (14-16-27-28-30) also ran very well in the girls’ race and nipped Canby/Minneota (3-13- 15-31-53) for fourth on the sixth-runner tiebreaker, 32-54, as both the Arrows and Lancers had 115 points through five runners.


Redwood Valley was sixth in the girls’ team standings with 128 points, followed by Southwest

Christian/Edgerton (204), Mountain Lake Area (243), Springfield/Cedar Mountain (273), Windom (287), Adrian (322), Yellow Medicine East (341), Ortonville (341), Wabasso (357), Montevideo (382), BOLD (394) and Heron Lake-Okabena (434). Five others were incomplete.


Two area girls - Windom junior Gracie Bucher (12th overall, 20:36.6) and Pipestone senior Jonna Strasser (14th, 20:39.9) - earned state-meet advancement as the sixth and eighth individuals who were not running for Luverne or LQPV/D-B.


Sophomore Brooklyn VerSteeg (10th, 20:27.5), eighth-grader Elizabeth Wagner (17th, 20:50.1) and seventh-grader Jenna DeBates (18th, 20:52.1) completed Luverne’s scoring and will be joined at St. Olaf College in Northfield (Nov. 3) by eighth-grader Tiana Lais (22nd, 21:15.6) and seventh-grader Makena Nelson (53rd, 22:41.3).

MCC’s Justin Clarke has best finish among all area boys

With a strong finishing effort, MCC/F junior Justin Clarke qualified for a third straight trip to St. Olaf with a fourth-place finish Thursday, clocked at 17:06.6. Clarke moved up steadily during the race and held off a pack of challengers, who finished with times of 17:06.8 to 17:12.9 in places five through nine, while nearly catching third-place finisher Jayson Peyerl (a sophomore from Redwood Valley) who had a time of 17:05.6.


One of those runners in that close pack behind Clarke was MLA senior Dalton Piotter (seventh, 17:10.0). Joining Clarke, Piotter and DeSollar (12th overall, 17:19.2), were Luverne junior Brayden Tofteland (14th, 17:23.6) and MLA senior Ryan Blomgren (15th, 17:26.0) as the seventh and eighth individuals not from LQPV/D-B or Redwood Valley.

Paced by Clarke’s stellar run, MCC/F placed fourth in the boys’ team standings with 139 points, followed by Canby/Minneota (158), Pipestone Area (186), MLA (194), Montevideo (266), Windom (287), Jackson County Central (297), Springfield/CM (310), Ortonville (317), HL-O (377), Lakeview (381), SWC/E (402), BOLD (430), YME (457), Ellsworth (492) and MACCRAY/Renville County West (499). Four other teams were incomplete.


Other area boys who finished among the top 30 were PA’s Seth Lingen (17th, 17:43.9), a trio of Luverne runners --- Jonah Friedrichsen (21st, 17:53.4), Shane Berning (22, 17:53.5) and Austin Winter (23, 17:55.6) --- along with PA’s Matthew Dulas (26, 18:04.5), JCC’s Clayton Cavness (29, 18:12,3) and MCC’s Nate Everson (30, 18:13.4).


Other area girls finishing in the top 30 were PA’s Avery Brecher (16th, 20:48.1), SWC’s Ella Veldkamp (21, 21:13.7), MCC’s Ashley Overgaauw (23, 21:17.1), MCC’s Amanda Overgaauw (25, 21:20.4), Adrian’s Moriah Bullerman (26, 21:21.3), PA’s Brooklyn Goelz (27, 21:26,1), PA’s Kelly Pape (28, 21:27.2) and MCC’s Ryanna Schreier (30, 21:32.1).