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Cross country: Trojan boys win at Mountain Lake; Gehl, Runck win individual titles

BY LES KNUTSON The Globe MOUNTAIN LAKE -- Putting three runners among the first six finishers Wednesday morning on the hills of the Mountain Lake Golf Course, the Worthington Trojans impressively claimed the boys' first-place trophy in the 13-tea...

 

BY LES KNUTSON

The Globe

MOUNTAIN LAKE -- Putting three runners among the first six finishers Wednesday morning on the hills of the Mountain Lake Golf Course, the Worthington Trojans impressively claimed the boys’ first-place trophy in the 13-team Paul Metcalf Invitational high school cross country meet.

While the depth-filled Trojans were running exceptionally well as a team, Mountain Lake Area senior ace Nathan Runck pulled away from the rest of the 130-finisher field and earned the individual gold medal with a sizzling time of 16 minutes and 48 seconds over the 5,000-meter course. Taking the lead just past the mile mark, Runck finished 28 seconds ahead of Adrian senior Brady Henning, who earned the silver medal with a time of 17:16.

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Earlier, Murray County Central/Fulda freshman Morgan Gehl ran a similar race and took the lead away from Martin County West freshman Marissa Whitehead as the two premier young runners were well ahead of the rest of the field of 100 varsity girls’ finishers.

Gehl’s winning time for 5,000 meters was 19:12.5, while Whitehead -- who finished second at last year’s Class A state meet at Northfield -- was clocked at 19:28.1. Gehl placed eighth at last year’s state meet with a time of 19:25.5, 16.9 seconds behind Whitehead’s time of 19:08.6.

The girls’ race was full of state-caliber performers as MaKenna Thurston, a junior from Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial/Nicollet -- who finished 13th at Northfield last November (19:30.3) -- moved up progressively Wednesday and earned third place with her time of 19:40.2.

Fairmont, the defending girls’ state team champion, had all five of its scoring runners among the first 17 (4-5-8-13-17) and convincingly finished at the top of Wednesday’s team standings with 47 points. The Cardinals were paced by eighth-grader Lauren Thompson (fourth, 19:50.3) and senior Iliana Ramon (fifth, 19:57.4).

Luverne’s girls -- who finished fourth as a team at last year’s state meet -- were a solid second at Mountain Lake with 71 points (9-12-14-15-21).

Freshman Regan Feit (ninth, 21:01), eighth-grader Tenley Nelson (12th, 21:34.6), eighth-grader Brooklyn VerSteeg (14th, 21:49.7) and junior Gabrielle Ferrell (16th overall, 15th team scoring, 22:01.8) were the top four finishers for the well-balanced Cardinals.

Other area runners who finished among the individual medalists (top 15) were Jackson County Central senior Jessica Christoffer (sixth, 20:03.6), Worthington junior Sena Uli (11th, 21:25.4) and Windom Area freshman Gracie Bucher (15th, 21:52.5). HL-O senior Cheyenne Schaffer (17th, 22:27.9) and Adrian sophomore Moriah Bullerman (18th, 22:28.9) were each contending for medalist performances.

LCWM/N was third in the team standings with 107 points, followed by MCW (123), MCC/F (145), United South Central/Alden-Conger (159), Worthington (174), JCC (187), Adrian (212), Madelia (213) and MLA (265). Windom and HL-O were both incomplete.

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Lietz, Huber, Koller lead triumphant Worthington boys With junior Andrew Huber setting the early pace and sophomore teammates Christian Lietz and Adam Koller running close behind, Worthington established itself early in the boys’ race.

Huber was leading at the mile mark, just ahead of Runck, notching a 1,600-meter time of 5:21.

As the race unfolded, Lietz moved up and finished an impressive third with a personal record time of 17:19.4. Huber (fifth, 17:32.3) and Koller (sixth, 17:50.9) gave the Trojans three of the top six.

“We’ve got some tough guys,” declared second-year WHS head coach Cory Smidt. “They’ve been working hard and are striving to have a great year. Winning the team title here was a big step toward the kind of season they want to have.”

Backing up the stellar runs by the lead trio were the closely-packed finishes of senior Jacob Prunty (19th, 18:34.5), freshman Jordan Melendez (20th, 18:38.2) and junior Tad Stewart (21st, 18:38.5) who placed 18-19-20 in the team scoring.

“Those three guys stuck together well, finishing within four seconds of each other,” pointed out Smidt. “That really clinched the team title for us, as we had such nice balance.”

Worthington’s official team score was 48 (2-4-5-18-19), giving the Trojans a 22-point victory margin over second-place MCW (70).

MLA had three finishers among the first 11 and the Wolverines were third with 80 points, followed by Fairmont (87), MCC/F (119), Luverne (141), Windom Area (160), HL-O (253), USC/AC (264), JCC (296), LCWM/N (312) and Madelia (341). Adrian was incomplete, which discounted Henning’s second-place performance in the team scoring.

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Other area runners earning individual medals were Luverne junior Dalton DeSollar (fourth, 17:25.1), MLA junior Dalton Piotter (eighth, 17:57.6), MLA junior Ryan Blomgren (11th, 18:20.6), Windom freshman Cameron Alm (13th, 18:23.6) and MCC/F junior Nathan Everson (14th, 18:28.0). MCC/F sophomore Justin Clarke (17th, 18:33.5) and Windom sophomore Patrick Green (18th, 18:34.1) just missed the Top 15.

Uli, Hoffman, Thier lead Trojan girls While Uli ran strong near the front as Worthington’s lead runner, the Trojan girls also received fine performances from eighth-grader Jenna Hoffman (28th, 24, 23:26.4) and freshman Miranda Thier (41st, 36, 24:16.1).

“Sena had a great race from start to finish,” praised Smidt. “Jenna and Miranda each had very good runs, too, starting the season out well.”

Completing the scoring for the Worthington girls (11-24-36-46-57) were freshman Liz Spiegelhoff (57th, 46, 26:06.2) and senior Maria Contreras (71st, 57, 28:05.2).

Walu, Reveles finish 1-2 as Trojans win junior boys team title Paced by the 1-2 finish of Mikele Walu (6:35.2) and Jose Reveles (6:36.9) over the 1,900-meter junior high course, Worthington also won the boys’ team title in that race.

The Trojans had a winning score of 37, also getting up-front finishes from Grant Pederson (sixth, 7:07.0) and Charlie Brands (seventh, 7:15.3).

JCC’s Clayton Cavness (third, 6:46.3) and Luverne’s Brady Bork (fifth, 7:05.6) also brought home ribbons (Top 15) as did MLA’s Drayton Klassen (eighth, 7:17.6) and Caden Swoboda (ninth, 7:19.6), along with MCC/F’s Nathan Engelkes (11th, 7:25.4), JCC’s Mason Bobb (12th, 7:29.0), MCC/F’s Abel Piper (14th, 7:30.2) and MLA’s Ben Bartsch (15th, 7:32.1).

MLA eighth-grader Mercedes Saengosoth clocked a winning time of 7:34.3 in the junior high girls’ race over the same course, leading the young Wolverines to the team title with 28 points.

Other area girls among the top 15 included Luverne’s Tiana Lais (second, 7:47.0), Luverne’s Elizabeth Wagner (fourth, 7:58.5), MCC/F’s Megan Bakke (seventh, 8:03.1), Luverne’s Grace Ingebretson (eighth, 8:07.8), JCC’s Emma Singler (ninth, 8:09.5), Worthington’s Ayantu Uli (10th, 8:11.9), the MLA trio of Tiegan Meyer (11th, 8:18.6), Kate Janzen (13th, 8:19.8) and Olivia Klassen (14th, 8:21.9), along with Windom’s Mikalah Konz (15th, 8:22.9).

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