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Gehl, Overgaauw twins lead MCC/Fulda girls' victory

WHS Turkey Trot girls
Murray County Central/Fulda's Morgan Gehl runs to the finish line with a commanding lead to win the girls varsity Turkey Trot race. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- A spectacular lead-run performance by Morgan Gehl, along with up-front finishes by twin sisters Ashley and Amanda Overgaauw, propelled Murray County Central/Fulda to the varsity girls’ team championship at the 52nd annual running of the Turkey Trot high school cross country meet Thursday at Prairie View.

Gehl, a strong-running junior, scaled the challenging 5,000-meter course in a splendid time of 18:06.5 -- 53.2 seconds before Luverne sophomore Tenley Nelson ran an impressive second- place time of 18:59.7. Fairmont freshman Laura Thompson was third, clocked at 19:19.3, as the girls’ race featured a trio of runners ranked among the top-five in Minnesota’s Class A.

Prior to Thursday, Gehl was ranked second, Thompson fourth and Nelson fifth. Natasha Sortland, a freshman who runs for the combination of Zumbrota-Mazeppa and Kenyon- Wannamingo, is the state’s top-ranked girl in Class A.

“Morgan really showed her strength on the hills today,” declared an elated MCC/F head coach Dominick Damm. “The course has some long climbs, and she continually pulled away as the race progressed. That’s a super time for mid-September on a difficult course, which had quite a few soggy spots.”

Indeed, runners had to splash through a few puddles after the heavy rains of the previous two nights. But the trails of the course were well-marked and a total of 101 varsity girls, representing 12 teams completed the 3.1-mile distance with 20 of them finishing in less than 22 minutes.

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Macy Hanson (Fairmont) and Paola Acevedo (St. James) finished fourth and fifth, respectively, with times of 20:16.7 and 20:27.0.

MCC/F had five of those top-20 finishers, as Gehl was first, freshman Ashley Overgaauw placed seventh overall (fifth in the team scoring) with her time of 20:36.3 and Amanda was right behind (eighth, sixth, 20:39.5). Warrior teammates junior Josie Harms (15th, 13th, 21:34.9) and sophomore Ella Stapek (18th, 16th, 21:43.3) clinched a well-balanced five-point team victory for MCC/F, which tallied a low score of 41 (1-5-6-13-16).

The Warriors who came into the meet, ranked ninth in the Class A team standings, will likely move up a few places in next week’s poll.

“It was a nice all-around team run,” summed up Damm. “Each one of the top five ran very well, as did our sixth and seventh runners, Victoria Pierson (25th, 23rd, 22:35.4) and Brylei Schreier (26th, 24th, 22:38.4). Putting seven girls in the upper fourth, all with times well under 23 minutes is better than we expected.”

The Warriors needed that exceptional balance and depth to outrun the state’s top-ranked Class A team -- the four-time defending Section 3A champion Luverne Cardinals and perennial power Fairmont, as just seven points separated first from third in the girls’ standings.

Running without its usual third-runner, sophomore Brooklyn VerSteeg (sidelined with an injury), Luverne scored 46 points (2-8-9-10-17), while Fairmont had a score of 48 (3-4-11-12- 18).

Worthington, led by Madison Schaeffer (22nd, 20th, 22:13.8) and Sena Uli (23, 21, 22:16.6), placed fourth with 136 points (20-21-30-31-34), followed by Pipestone Area (139), Mountain Lake Area (170), Adrian (200), Wabasso (211) and Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (214). St. James, Windom and Heron Lake-Okabena were incomplete.

Other area individuals who finished in top 20 overall included Windom’s Gracie Bucher (sixth, 20:35.1), Adrian’s Moriah Bullerman (ninth, 21:00.3), Luverne runners Regan Feit (10th, 21:00.8), Elizabeth Wagner (11th, 21:03.7), Jenna DeBates (12th, 21;04.4) and Grace Ingebretson (19th, 21:50.6), along with PA’s Naomi Wallace (17th, 21:40.8).

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Jenna Hoffman (33rd, 30, 23:27.0), Maranda Thier (35, 31, 23:34.3) and Marissa Thier (39, 34, 24:07.7) completed Worthington’s scoring.

Luverne’s Kayla Bloemendaal won the junior high girls’ race, running a longer-than 1,600-meter course in a time of 7:38.0. Windom runners Arianna Boldt (fourth, 7:54.0) and Emma Holtz (fifth, 7:55.1), Luverne’s Maria Rops (sixth, 7:58.4), MCC/F’s Lily Daniels (seventh, 8:05.5), Worthington runners Kendie Thiner (eighth, 8:08.1) and Lauryn Ahlers (ninth, 8:11.8) and Adrian’s Hunter Penning (10th, 8:13.9) all placed among the first 10 in a field of 47 finishers.

WHS Turkey Trot girls 2
Luverne High School runner Tenley Nelson places second at the Worthington High School 52th Annual Turkey Trot. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

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