Panthers set pace at Wadena
Having the top five runners finish in the top 20 spots led the Park Rapids girls cross-country team to the title at Tuesday's Wadena-Deer Creek Invitational.
Lydia Lutz's runner-up time of 15:59 and Victoria Lutz's fifth-place time of 16:17 led the Panthers to first place with 49 points. Little Falls was second in this 10-team meet with 53 points while Staples-Motley took third with 57 points. Park Rapids was ranked No. 12 in the first state Class A poll while Staples-Motley was ranked No. 6.
In the boys meet, Nevis' Bryon Schuldt led the field with a winning time of 16:57. Park Rapids finished fifth with 141 points. Long Prairie-Grey Eagle won the boys title with 37 points.
Summer Ellefson completed the 4,000-meter course in 17:28 for 13th place, Kaylee Hilmanowski finished 17th in 17:52 and Tiffany Deitchler placed 19th in 18:09 to round out Park Rapids' winning team score. Morgan Olson (20th in 18:12) and Sophie Shogren (21st in 18:19) followed.
United North Central finished seventh with 178 points. Leading the Warriors were Meg Isaacson (36th in 20:26), Emily Keranen (39th in 21:13), Jenny Johnson (41st in 21:16), Jill Isaacson (42nd in 21:32), Lindsey Josephson (46th in 24:19) and Jolene Wagner (47th in 24:41).
Park Rapids' Chelsea Johnson finished first in the girls junior varsity race with a time of 19:43.
"I wasn't expecting a first place finish," said Park Rapids head coach Kerry Johnson. "The girls are working so hard and they deserve to do well. Each one of them contributed to that win. Their finishes were unreal. Each girl gave it her all throughout the whole race and then gave even more at the end. I was proud of all of them."
In the boys meet, Taylor Kimball completed the 5,000-meter course in 18:58 for 17th place to lead the Panthers. Zac Haugland (29th in 20:28), Sam Goebel (37th in 20:52), Jake Waggoner (42nd in 21:14) and Jared Storseth (47th in 22:32) rounded out the Panthers' team score. Ryan McBrady (49th in 23:00) and Matt Sullivan (53rd in 23:41) completed Park Rapids' varsity team.
Nevis' Hunter Schroeder finished 15th in 18:56.
United North Central had an incomplete team. Jonathan Miller (24th in 19:48), Luke Graham (48th in 22:41) and Chris Torvinen (55th in 24:28) raced for the Warriors.
In the boys junior varsity race, Kevin Merfeld (22nd in 26:31), Jacob Hays (23rd in 29:52) and Josh Hays (24th in 29:52) competed for the Panthers. Isaac Overmyer (fourth in 12:24) and Matt Konshok (37th in 15:56) ran in the 3,200-meter junior high race.
"I was really happy with the boys," said Johnson. "Since we have so many first year runners, they don't have a Wadena time to compare from last year. Each one of the guys really pushed. It's exciting to compete as a team. I hope we can get more and more runners joining us."
The Panthers will compete in the Pelican Rapids Invitational Monday.