TRACY -- Worthington High School senior Adam Koller utilized a blazing finishing kick to win the varsity boys’ individual title at the huge 18-team Panther Invitational cross country meet Thursday at the Tracy Country Club.
Koller’s come-from-behind victory was impressive, as was Murray County Central / Fulda’s dominating team victory, led by smooth-running junior Morgan Gehl, during the earlier varsity girls’ race over the same 5,000-meter course.
Gehl broke away from Canby/Minneota sophomore Grace Drietz for a 34-second victory, leading the Warriors to their second team triumph of the 2019 season. Gehl, Minnesota’s second-ranked girl in all of Class A, ran the course in 19:13.5, while sixth-ranked Drietz was clocked at 19:47.3 --- far ahead of third-place finisher Maddie LeSage of Redwood Valley (21:24.0).
Gehl’s MCC/F teammates Ashley Overgaauw (eighth overall, fifth in the team scoring, 21:57.4), Amanda Overgaauw (ninth, sixth, 22:05.8), Josie Harms (19th, 13, 23:00.3) and Ella Stapek (20th, 14, 23:02.3) produced a winning score of 39 (1-5-6-13-14) as the Warriors were 52 points better than second-place C/M’s total of 91 (2-8-11-34-36).
Koller passed Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd’s Zeke Sather five meters from the finish chute and clocked a winning time of 16:59.7.
Sather, who pulled ahead of Koller after the Trojan ace slipped and nearly fell about 1,000 meters from the finish, was clocked at 17:00.7.
“I am glad that I didn’t give up after I slipped,” said Koller after the race. “It seemed like he (Sather) was running smooth and pulling away some, but I was able to stay close and finish strong.”
Sather and Koller ran side-by-side at the front of the 89-finisher field nearly the entire way before Sather, a junior, took the lead and appeared to be positioned to win the race. But Koller seemed to shift gears and turned on the burners coming down the final stretch, catching and passing Sather in an exciting finishing burst.
“Another great race by Adam, from beginning to end,” declared WHS head coach Cory Smidt. “He had a little extra left and sure showed his speed down that last straight away.”
LQPV/D-B, however, had seven runners place among the first 17 finishers and claimed the boys’ team championship with a low score of 35 (2-5-7-9-12), 10 points better than Worthington’s second-place total of 45 (1-4-8-11-21).
Redwood Valley finished a distant third in boys’ team standings with 91 points, followed by Pipestone Area (134), C/M (137), Windom Area (161), Springfield (179), Sleepy Eye Unified (193) and MCC/F (201). Nine others were incomplete.
Individually, RV’s Jason Peyerl was third (17:24.0), followed by Worthington’s Christian Lietz (17:29.0) and LQPV/D-B’s Mikey Kvaal (17:38.1).
Completing the scoring for the Trojans were Jordan Meledez (eighth, 17:52.6), Mikele Walu (11th, 18:27.7) and Alec Langerud (23rd overall, 21st team scoring, 19:23.2).
Other area runners who finished among the top 20 included Seth Lingen of PA (13th, 18:33.9), Patrick Green of WA (14th, 18:35.2) and Cameron Alm of WA (18th, 19:02.4)
LQPV/D-B was a close third in the girls’ team standings with 93 points (just two behind C/M), while Southwest Christian/Edgerton was also in the hunt for runner-up honors with 101 points (12-17-19-20-33) in a well-balanced performance.
Worthington was fifth with 124 points (9-15-25-26-49), followed by Springfield (136), PA (181), BOLD (198), Wabasso (229), SEU (242) and Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (263). Seven others were incomplete.
Other area girls placing among the first 20 overall finishers were Windom’s Gracie Bucher (fifth, 21:41.3), Adrian’s Moriah Bullerman (sixth, 21:48.7), Worthington’s Sena Uli (13th, 22:30.3) and SWC/E’s Taylor Post (17th, 22:41.3).
Worthington’s scoring runners included Uli (ninth team placing), Madison Schaeffer (21st, 15, 23:18.6), Jenna Hoffman (31, 25, 24:29.6), Maranda Thier (32, 26, 24:29.9) and Marisa Thier (64, 49, 28:16.2).
PA’s Naomi Wallace won the girls’ 4,000-meter JV race by a long ways, but did not get an official time recorded. SWC/E runners Madison Fick and Alexia Vander Pol placed second and third, respectively, in the girls’ JV event, while MCC/F’s Megan Bakke (sixth) and Worthington’s Nicole Wede (10th) also ran well.
LQPV/D-B claimed the first three places in the boys’ JV race over the same 4,000-meter course, while Windom’s Jacob Green was fourth (16:44.7). Worthington’s Charlie Brands (seventh, 17:01.1) and Mathias Noble (eighth, 17:02.9) also finished near the front.
MCC/F’s Lily Daniels (10th, 9:06.4), Windom’s Arianna Boldt (11th, 9:11.8) and Adrian’s Hunter Penning (12th, 9:12.1) were the first three area finishers in the girls’ 2,000-meter junior high race.
Worthington’s Ethan Mahlberg (fifth, 7:44.8), Windom’s Thomas Green (seventh, 7:47.0), Windom’s Aaden Nauman (eighth, 7:48.9), MCC/F’s Caleb Appel (12th, 8:00.1) and Worthington’s Zach Hayenga (13th, 8:00.3) all finished among the leaders in the boys’ junior high race over the same 2,000-meter course.