WORTHINGTON -- Brilliant up-front runs by Worthington High School seniors Adam Koller and Christian Lietz gave the Trojan boys a pair of highlight individual performances in the 52nd annual Turkey Trot cross country meet at the former Prairie View Golf Links Thursday.

Koller was chased by St. James’ senior Seth Pierson through most of the 5,000-meter course, along a trail which had its share of up-and-down slopes, along with several sharp turns on terrain softened by two consecutive nights of pouring rain.

Lietz was not far behind as he moved comfortably into third place, steadily increasing the distance between and several early challengers.

As the huge 133-finisher race progressed, the strong-running Koller widened the gap and pulled away from Pierson, earning the first-place trophy with a personal record (PR) time of 16:24.6. Lietz utilized a blazing finishing kick and passed Pierson about 100 meters from the chute, claiming second with his time of 16:34.8.

“For the third meet in a row, we had super lead runs from both Adam and Christian,” praised WHS head coach Cory Smidt. “Those are great times for September and finishing 1-2 like that gave us just three points from our top two guys, which is really a boost for getting a good team score.”

Pierson finished third (16:37.8), nearly 21 seconds ahead of Fairmont’s William Saari (fourth, 16:58.5). Pierson’s teammate Troy Parulski was fifth (17:02.6) followed in the Top 10 by Luverne’s Brayden Tofteland (17:08.5), Worthington’s Jordan Meledez (17:17.4), Pipestone Area’s Seth Lingen (17:29.0), Juan Castaneda of St. James (17:29.7) and Windom Area’s Patrick Green (17:30.0).

Paced by Pierson, Parulski and Castaneda, the well-balanced Saints -- Minnesota’s sixth-ranked Class A boys’ team -- won the team championship with a low score of 44 (3-5-9-11-16), bettering Worthington’s total of 51 (1-2-7-19-22) by seven points.

Fairmont (4-12-15-32-40) was a distant third with 103 points, followed by Luverne (115), Pipestone Area (122), Windom Area (135), Mountain Lake (163), Murray County Central/Fulda (191) and Wabasso (259). Heron Lake-Okabena, Tracy-Milroy-Balaton and Adrian were each incomplete (without five finishing runners).

Other area runners cracking the Top 20 included PA’s Caden Strasser (13th, 17:53.1), Windom’s Cameron Alm (14th, 17:58.3), MLA’s Kaleb Eickhoff (18th, 18:19.3) and Worthington’s Alec Langerud (19th, 18:24.7).

Luverne’s Jonah Friedrichsen (18:38.6), Worthington’s Ofbeka Morke (18:43.3), HL-O’s Paul Salentiny (18:45.0), MCC/F runners Maverick Beckmann (18:49.0) and Lukas Stapek (18:49.8), Luverne’s Camden Janiszeski (18:51.1), MLA’s Caden Swoboda (18:57.1), T-M-B’s Sawyer Schwartz (18:59.2), PA’s Cole Lueck (19:03.5) and Worthington’s Charlie Brands (19:04.7) finished in overall places 21-30, respectively.

MLA’s Kody Wassman (6:17.2) and HL-O’s Tim Salentinty (6:22.7) ran far ahead of the pack of 65 junior high boys finishers over a course of about 1,700 meters, which also had its share of hills.

Other area boys finishing among the first 10 were Zach Klassen of MLA (fourth, 6:38.0), Sage Viessman of Luverne (fifth, 6:38.8), Ethan Schroeder of MLA (sixth, 6:40.2), Thomas Green of Windom (seventh, 6:45.2), Aaden Nauman of Windom (eighth, 6:46.6) and Ethan Mahlberg of Worthington (ninth, 6:50.3).