Individual races will be competitive, but Dragons are solid team favorites in 3A CC meet
WORTHINGTON -- While three-time defending champion Adrian is a solid favorite in both team competitions today, the races for individual honors appear to be quite wide-open, as more than 200 varsity runners -- about 100 girls and approximately the...
WORTHINGTON -- While three-time defending champion Adrian is a solid favorite in both team competitions today, the races for individual honors appear to be quite wide-open, as more than 200 varsity runners -- about 100 girls and approximately the same number of boys -- converge on the Adrian Country Club for the Section 3A cross country meet.
The 17-team event starts at 4:00 p.m. with the 4,000-meter girls' race, while the 5,000-meter boys' meet gets underway 45 minutes later.
Competing in the event are Adrian, BOLD/Buffalo Lake-Hector, Canby/Minneota/Lincoln HI, Hills-Beaver Creek/Ellsworth, Lakeview, Luverne, Montevideo, Murray County Central, Pipestone Area, Westbrook-Walnut Grove/Red Rock Central, Redwood Valley, Renville County West, Southwest Christian, Springfield/Cedar Mountain, Tracy-Milroy-Balaton, Worthington and Yellow Medicine East.
"Adrian is dominant in both team races," says Worthington head coach Mike Traphagen. "Canby has a very good girls' team, and there are several teams that could push each other in the chase for second in the boys' race."
Individually, MCC senior Laura Christensen -- who placed third in last year's section meet -- is among the favorites, as is Southwest Conference champion Amanda Schoonhoven, a junior from PA.
Several Adrian runners, including seniors Leslie Stover and Erica Thier, eighth-graders Jordin Kopplow and Megan Sauer, along with seventh-grader Nicole Slater, will likely run among the leaders.
Adrian head coach Doug Petersen notes that Canby's Katherine Anundson and Montevideo's Kate Eggers are top-notch runners, and also looks for Whitney Wilgenburg (H-BC/E) and Karli Tholen (T-M-B) to be among the contenders for a top 10 finish -- and an individual state meet qualification.
"The girls' individual field is really loaded," says Petersen. "There will be some very good runners that won't make the top 10."
Team-wise, Adrian is a heavy favorite to claim its fourth consecutive championship. But C-M/LH has also been impressive and the Lancers have been known for "peaking" at the section meet.
Worthington, which has shown steady improvement this season, should improve upon its seventh-place 2007 finish.
"We have had a good year," Traphagen said. "Our kids have responded well to the challenges they have faced and now we hope to finish the season on a high note."
Trojan junior Kaitlin Gerber, who finished sixth last year, will be running just her third race of the season after being sidelined most of the fall with a knee injury.
"Gerber is such a competitor," noted Petersen. "Even though she has missed most of the season, I would not count her out."
Trojan eighth-grader Lydia Kemper has been been coming on strong, and sophomore Stephanie Behrens, junior Allison Jaycox and freshman Stephanie Jaycox have all shown good potential throughout the campaign.
Tholen, Reyne, Thooft likely to lead boys' race
Adrian is a definite favorite to win a fourth consecutive boys' team title, as the Dragons have a chance to place all five of its scoring runners among the top 10.
Individually, defending champion RyanTholen (T-M-B) could be challenged by Nate Reyne (Adrian) and Nate Thooft (Redwood Valley).
Tholen won last year's meet by 21 seconds over Adrian's Chris Reisdorfer.
Reyne, who beat Tholen at this year's Adrian Invitational (Oct. 7) by 19 seconds, is coming off a repeat Red Rock Conference individual championship.
Reyne was fourth in last year's section race.
Thooft, who finished sixth in the 2007 section meet, is coming of a convincing win at the Southwest Conference race, where he pulled away from Worthington sophomore O.J. Ojullu and won by 18 seconds.
Ojullu and H-BC/E senior Halden Van Wyhe are among the top area runners that could challenge for a state meet qualification.
"O.J. is ready to go and will need to run his best," said Traphagen. "Getting a top 10 finish would be great for him."
H-BC/E head coach Tom Goehle says that Van Wyhe has been "extremely consistent" all season and believes that his ace runner has a good shot at a top-10 finish.
Goehle is also optimistic that his Patriots will compete well in the team competition.
"We're a long shot," he says. "But I would not count us out."
Traphagen, like Goehle, notes that Redwood Valley, Montevideo, T-M-B and Canby, along with H-BC/E and Worthington could have a competitive race for team places second through seventh.
Goehle has been impessed with the Worthington boys.
"The Trojan boys have really come on this season," Goehle declared. "They have a tremendous lead runner in Ojullu, have a very good second runner (Aaron Grafing) and have nice balance among the other guys."
Goehle says that T-M-B is similar with Tholen as its lead runner and Alex Jones coming on strong as the Panthers' second runner.
The top two teams in each race and the first 10 individuals in each event will qualify for the state meet at St. Olaf College in Northfield Nov. 1.