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Cross country: Thurston, Pierson, Runck shine at Windom

BY LES KNUTSON The Globe WINDOM -- Three of Minnesota's best high school cross country runners converged on the relatively flat -- and often times -- fast Windom Country Club Monday for the annual running of the Eagle Invitational. With 11 teams ...

 

BY LES KNUTSON

The Globe

WINDOM -- Three of Minnesota’s best high school cross country runners converged on the relatively flat -- and often times -- fast Windom Country Club Monday for the annual running of the Eagle Invitational.

With 11 teams competing on a cool day with a bit of mist in the air, a total of 89 girls and 100 boys finished the 5,000-meter varsity races with the Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial/Nicollet girls and the St. James Area boys winning the team titles in impressive fashion.

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Individually, LC-WM/N junior MaKenna Thurston, Class A’s seventh-ranked runner, steadily widened the gap and claimed the girls’ gold medal with a 5K time of 19:30.7, finishing nearly 81 seconds ahead of teammate Grace Moeller (20:51.5).

In the boys’ individual chase over the same 5,000-meter course, a pair of state-ranked seniors ran close together well in the front of the others, each running the distance under 17 minutes.

Lukas Pierson of SJA pulled away from Mountain Lake Area’s Nathan Runck over the final 500 meters and entered the chute with a stellar first-place time of 16:32.9. It was the third straight meet victory for Pierson, who was ranked ninth in the latest Class A boys’ poll.

Runck, who is a student at Red Rock Central in Lamberton, is running cross country for the first time this fall and has finished either first or second in all five of his meets so far. Runck, Class A’s 11th-ranked runner, was clocked at 16:45.3 Monday, exactly 40 seconds ahead of the third-place time run by Springfield sophomore Mitchell Buerkle (17:25.3).

Pierson paced the Saints to the team title with a low score of 29 points (1-4-6-8-10), while Runck led the Wolverines to a solid second-place team finish with a score of 45 (2-5-7-15-16).

In the girls’ meet, Thurston and Moeller led the Knights to a clear team championship on scoring places 1-2-7-14-18 for a winning total of 42.

Southwest Minnesota Christian/Edgerton (6-16-19-22-29) claimed runner-up team honors with 92 points, paced by the strong sixth-place finish of freshman Mikayla Johnson (21:12.6) who moved up progressively as the race unfolded.

Tracy-Milroy-Balaton’s girls were a close third with 95 points (4-8-24-37-42) led by the medalist performances of senior Sarita Hook (fourth, 21:05.5) and sophomore Brooke Christian (eighth, 21:15.1).

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Heron Lake-Okabena (12-20-21-23-42) was fourth with 118 points, followed by Windom Area (131), Springfield/Cedar Mountain (167), St. James (179), Adrian (179), MLA (187) and Sleepy Eye Unified (203).

Adrian sophomore Moriah Bullerman (ninth, 21:15.7), Windom freshmen Gracie Bucher (10th, 21:16.8) and Jadyn Wormstadt (11th, 21:38.5) and HL-O senior Cheyenne Schaffer (12th, 21:42.3) each finished among the individual medalists (top 15).

In the boys’ meet, Windom Area displayed fine balance and was third in the team standings with 84 points (11-14-17-19-23), followed by LC-WM/N (127), HL-O (146), S/CM (154), SWC/E (181), SEU (217) and Ellsworth (231). Adrian was incomplete.

Individually, MLA senior Dalton Piotter (fifth, 17:35.5), MLA junior Ryan Blomgren (seventh, 17:45.8), Adrian senior Brady Henning (eighth, 17:47.5), Windom sophomore Patrick Green (12th, 18:15.7) and Windom freshman Cameron Alm (15th, 18:29.4) were other area runners who earned medals.

Ellsworth was led by freshman Linkin Bossert who placed 44th overall (33rd in the team scoring) with a time of 20:47.5.

In the 1,700-meter junior high races, HL-O seventh-grader Ellie Sheldahl finished first among the girls with a time of 7:09.2. SWC/E seventh-grader Ellie Decker was second (7:18.5) and Windom eighth-grader Mikalah Konz finished third (7:20.3), followed by MLA seventh-grader Teigan Meyer (7:22.1) and eighth-grade teammate Kate Janzen (7:23.7)

Marco Crispin of St. James won the boys’ junior high race in a time of 5:59.4, while MLA eighth-graders Drayton Klassen (6:18.9) and Caden Swoboda (6:25.6) finished third and fourth, respectively, just ahead of SWC/E seventh-grader Jacob Ulik (fifth, 6:26.7).

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