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Cross country: Whitehead, Knutson claim gold at Loon Lake

LES KNUTSONDaily Globe LOON LAKE -- Running on the fan-friendly Loon Lake Golf Course, close to the Iowa border in southern Jackson County, Thursday afternoon, Martin County West/Martin Luther's Marissa Whitehead and Heron Lake-Okabena's Logan Kn...

LES KNUTSON
Daily Globe 

LOON LAKE -- Running on the fan-friendly Loon Lake Golf Course, close to the Iowa border in southern Jackson County, Thursday afternoon, Martin County West/Martin Luther’s Marissa Whitehead and Heron Lake-Okabena’s Logan Knutson each claimed convincing individual titles in the nine-team Jackson County Central Subway Invitational high school cross country meet.

Whitehead, an eighth-grader, moved into the lead early in the 79-finisher varsity girls’ race and entered the chute with a 5,000-meter time of 20:10, 24 seconds ahead of Windom Area senior Christianna Green (20:34).

Knutson, a senior veteran with state-meet experience, took a small lead 800 meters into the 111-finisher varsity boys’ race over the same course and gradually stretched the distance, winning by 18 seconds with a time of 17:21.

“I ran several long runs last week and feel like I’m getting in better shape all the time,” Knutson said after his first-ever varsity gold-medalist performance. “I felt good the whole race and this is really a nice course.”

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Windom Area senior Isaac Tade (17:39) outkicked Blue Earth Area freshman Grant Strukel (17:40) for second-place, while Tade’s classmate Nickolas Green -- who shared the early lead with Tade -- finished a solid fourth, clocked at 17:44.

Paced by the upfront runs of Tade and Green, the Eagles -- despite running without lead runner John Irwin and usual fifth man Cameron Alm (both sidelined with injuries) -- notched second-place in the team standings with 79 points (2-4-23-24-26), behind the balanced winning effort of Mankato East’s low score of 49 (6-9-10-11-13).

Worthington, paced by a stellar lead run from freshman Adam Koller (eighth, 17:55), was the third-place boys’ team with 89 points (8-14-18-20-29).

With Whitehead setting the pace and four other Mavericks finishing among the first 21, MCW/ML won the girls’ team title with 59 points (1-8-12-17-21), while Windom (2-5-18-22-30) was second with 77 points.

Mankato East (88), Luverne (98), JCC (106), HL-O (160), Worthington (163), Springfield/Cedar Mountain (163) and BEA (165) completed the girls’ team standings.

Individually, HL-O Rachel Salentiny utilized a strong finishing kick to claim third (20:59), followed by East senior Ivy Glade (21:09), Windom eighth-grader Gracie Bucher (21:10), Luverne senior Madison Schandelmeier (21:13) and JCC junior Jessica Christoffer (21:30).

Other area girls finishing in the top 20 included Luverne freshman Claire Baustian (10th, 21:59), HL-O junior Cheyenne Schaffer (11, 22:04), JCC junior Kia Holm (14, 22:48), Luverne sophomore Madison Reisdorfer (15, 22:59), JCC senior Jayni Anderson (16, 23:11), Windom eighth-grader Jadyn Wormstadt (18, 23:13) and Worthington junior Jessica Darling (19, 23:22).

MCW/ML, paced by the seventh-placer run of sophomore Carson Kahler (17:55) was fourth in the boys’ team standings with 100 points, followed by Luverne (148), BEA (173), HL-O (176), S/C (177) and JCC (225).

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Other area boys finishing in the first 20 were Luverne sophomore Adam Winter (12th, 18:15), Worthington sophomore Andrew Huber (14, 18:31) and Worthington junior Jackson Bonnett (18, 18:42). Mankato East had a total of nine runners among the top 20.

Trojans boys run well While Worthington had strong up front performances by Koller, Huber and Bonnett, junior veteran Jacob Prunty (22nd overall, 20th team scoring, 18:54) and eighth-grader Christian Lietz (33, 29, 19:27) also ran well and helped the Trojans finish ahead of six other teams.

Closely backing up the scoring runners were sophomores Blaine Doeden (37, 33, 19:32), Colin Smidt (38, 34, 19:33), Tad Stewart (40, 19:40), along with junior Caleb Schreiber (41, 19:42) and seniors Chris Nelsen (42, 19:49) and Matt DeSmith (46, 20:06).

“We had 11 runners among the top 46 and 10 of them ran the course under 20 minutes,” said WHS head coach Cory Smidt. “Our top four were all under 19 and Adam ran a great race, running close to the front all the way, making the top eight and running under 18 minutes.”

The Trojan girls ran without freshman Sena Uli, the team’s usual lead runner, and were well-balanced through the rest of the lineup, following the upfront run of Darling.

Eighth-graders Maranda Thier (24th, 23:46), Liz Spiegelhoff (35. 25:00) and Brynne White (37, 25:14), along with senior Camila Wede (48, 26:13) completed the scoring for the Trojans, while junior Brianna Newman (49, 26:33), eigthth-grader Nedoh Gyi (26:45), seventh-grader Jenna Hoffman (54, 26:54), freshman Hailey Cauwels (55, 27:00) and freshman Jada Bonnett (58, 27:25) were Worthington’s next five finishers.

Trojan eighth-grader Jordan Melendez was third in the junior high boys’ 2,400-meter race with a time of 8:53. Luverne eighth-grader Regan Feit won the junior high girls’ race over the same course with a time of 9:09, while seventh-grade teammates Brooklynn VerSteeg (9:10) and Tenley Nelson (9:11) finished 2-3 for the young Cardinals.

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