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Cross country: Windom Area's Irwin sharp in Mountain Lake

LES KNUTSONDaily Globe MOUNTAIN LAKE -- Windom Area senior John Irwin ran away from the field in the boys' 5,000-meter race at the Mountain Lake Golf Course Wednesday morning as 12 high school cross country teams participated in the 45th Annual W...

LES KNUTSON
Daily Globe 

MOUNTAIN LAKE -- Windom Area senior John Irwin ran away from the field in the boys’ 5,000-meter race at the Mountain Lake Golf Course Wednesday morning as 12 high school cross country teams participated in the 45th Annual Wolverine Invitational.

Irwin took the lead early and stretched the gap throughout the 3.1 mile distance, completing the challenging course -- which has several sloping hills -- in a stellar early-season time of 16 minutes, 51 seconds.

“John ran 350 miles this summer and is in great shape,” said Eagles head coach Melissa Pletcher. “He looked good today, running a very strong race all the way.”

Earlier, Fairmont senior Jenna Pavich ran at the front of the 87-runner varsity girls’ race, winning by 14 seconds with a time of 20:15 over the identical course which the boys ran.

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Pavich paced five Cardinal teammates to medalist performances as Fairmont’s girls repeated as team champions in convincing fashion. After runners from incomplete teams were discounted, the top five FHS girls finished in team places 1-5-7-9-11 for a low score of 33.

Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial was a distant second with 97, followed closely by Windom Area (101) and Murray County Central/Fulda (104).

The boys’ team chase was much closer as Fairmont (63) edged Martin County West (66) and defending meet champion MCC/Fulda (71). Windom Area was a solid fourth with 88 points.

Three runners challenge for silver in each race While both Pavich and Irwin claimed gold medals in relative ease, the battle for second was very closely contested in both events.

As the girls’ race progressed, the trio of MCC/Fulda eighth-grader Morgan Gehl, Heron Lake-Okabena junior Rachel Salentiny and Jackson County Central junior Jessica Christoffer broke away from the pack and stuck close together for much of the distance.

Gehl (20:29) held off a strong challenge from Salentiny (20:31) for the silver medal, while Christoffer (20:55) claimed fourth.

Other area girls who finished among the top 15 included Windom Area senior Christianna Green (fifth, 21:04), Adrian freshman Moriah Bullerman (11th, 21:42) and Windom Area eighth-grader Gracie Bucher (14th, 21:53).

In the 102-runner boys’ race, the trio of Fairmont junior Nathan Willett (17:33), HL-O senior Logan Knutson (17:38) and MCC/Fulda senior Isaiah Olsem (17:42) exchanged places several times before Willett pulled away for the second-place medal.

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Other area boys finishing among the individual medalists included Adrian junior Brady Henning (sixth, 18:14), MCC/Fulda freshman Justin Clarke (ninth, 18:25), Windom Area senior Nickolas Green (10th, 18:29) and Mountain Lake Area senior Tommy Kraemer (13th, 18:42).

MLA was fifth in the boys’ team standings with 112 points, followed by United South Central/Alden-Conger (161), HL-O (196), LC-WM/N (208), JCC (230) and Madelia/Truman/Granada-Huntley-East Chain (293). Both Adrian and Southwest Christian/Edgerton were incomplete.

In the girls’ meet, JCC (134) edged USC/AC (135) for fifth, while Adrian (180), SWC/E (202), MCW (233) and MLA (259) completed the team scoring. Both HL-O and M/T/G-H-EC were incomplete.

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