Runners tune up for 8A meet
Both Park Rapids cross-country teams tuned up for the Section 8A meet with solid performances at Monday's Park Rapids Invitational at Headwaters Country Club.
The Park Rapids girls, who won the Mid-State Conference title on the same course on Oct. 14, finished second in this 15-team meet with 72 points. Perham, which has been ranked No. 1 in the state Class A ranks most of the season, won the team title with 35 points. The Panthers were ranked No. 8 in last week's state Class A poll.
In the boys meet, Perham backed up its No. 1 ranking in the state poll by winning the team title with 28 points. Park Rapids finished 10th out of 16 teams with 239 points.
"I thought (the boys and girls) ran well. Nine of our guys had season best times and five of the girls had their season best times," said Park Rapids head coach Kerry Johnson. "The boys have been improving week after week and the girls ran strong. I am proud of their work ethic and commitment to this team."
The Panthers used another solid team effort to defeat Section 8A rival Lake of the Woods for third place in the girls race.
Perham's Maddie McClellan, who is the top-rated Class A runner in the state, led the way with a winning time of 14:06. Following were Park Rapids' Lydia Lutz in 14:43, LOW's Victoria Alexander in 14:47 and Park Rapids' Victoria Lutz in 14:53. All three of those runners are also rated among the top runners in the state.
Helping the Panthers claim runner-up honors were Morgan Olson (20th in 15:43), Summer Ellefson (23rd in 15:48) and Kaylee Hilmanowski (26th in 16:05). Tiffany Deitchler finished 32nd in 16:24 and Sophie Shogren was 34th in 16:29 to round out Park Rapids' varsity squad.
In the boys race, Nevis' Hunter Schroeder finished ninth overall in 16:42. Leading the Panthers were Taylor Kimball (20th in 17:36), Zac Haugland (44th in 18:42), Jake Waggoner (59th in 19:21), Sam Goebel (61st in 19:23) and Jacob Hays (67th in 19:51). Rounding out the Panthers' varsity were Ryan McBrady (72nd in 20:08) and Jared Storseth (80th in 21:57).
Perham's Sam Stoll led the field with a winning time of 15:57.
Competing for the Panthers in the junior varsity race were Kevin Merfeld (20:17), Matt Sullivan (20:36), Joshua Hays (21:38) and Ben Kading (24:52) for the boys and Allie Bade (16:38) and Chelsea Johnson (18:01) for the girls.
In the junior high race, the Panthers placed fourth in the boys standings with 104 points behind Isaac Overmyer (first in 11:47), Jack Christenson (32nd in 15:29), Matt Konshok (38th in 16:00), Jacob Bridgeman (43rd in 16:37) and Jordan Raidt (48th in 18:02). Competing for the girls were Crysta Berens (fourth in 15:10), Abby Mueller (12th in 17:51), Kayla Andersen (13th in 18:18) and Emma Ellefson (14th in 18:19).
The Panthers will now prepare for the Section 8A meet next Friday (Oct. 30) at Bagley. Johnson is counting on both teams to run well on that course.
"Most of our runners like the course. It's not completely flat, but it's not very hilly. We had a very solid showing at the Bagley Invitational, so I'm hoping the athletes can build on that," said Johnson. "As usual, my expectations are very high. I hope the guys can run their person best times and enjoy the race. I want them to see where they are this year and hopefully strive to accomplish even bigger things next year. The girls are gunning for a trip to St. Olaf to compete Nov. 7 (at the state meet). I am really hoping everyone stays healthy. That is my biggest concern. The girls have worked hard and if they stay healthy and keep working, (qualifying for state) is an attainable goal."