Cardinal runners earn 1st, 2nd at Early Bird Invite

EARLY BIRDS — Fairmont’s Connor Artner (glasses), William Saari (front left), Tabitha Thatcher (right) and Becca Lunn (back left) sprint from the starting line during the sophomore division of the Early Bird cross country invitational on Friday at the Fairmont High School campus. (Photo by Charlie Sorrells)

FAIRMONT — De’ja vu.

The Class A, No. 12-ranked Fairmont girls cross country team duplicated its first-place team showing from last fall during Friday’s Early Bird Invitational, while the host Cardinal boys lineup earned runner-up accolades behind No. 2-ranked St. James Area for a second consecutive year.

Laura Thompson generated the second-fastest time overall and No. 1 mark among ninth-graders — 16 minutes, 2.8 seconds — in the season-opening 4K run’s girls division to pace Fairmont’s team total of 17 points.

An improved Le Sueur-Henderson squad matched the host Cardinals’ total of 17, with eighth-grader Corene Moeller’s seventh-place finish of 19:06.3 in the freshman division being the pivotal tiebreaking sixth-place score to swing the team hardware to Fairmont.

“Obviously, Laura placing first, Tabitha (Thatcher) finishing second and Sarah (Krumholz) capturing third were important, but I thought one of the keys to the girls defending their team title was Kobi Malo’s performance today,” Fairmont head coach Bob Bonk said in reference to his lineup’s fourth overall scorer. “She was in eighth place after the mile mark, but did a nice job of moving up gradually to finish fifth in the junior class. That score was a little better than we had expected this early in the season.”

Malo crossed the finish line in fifth place among junior girls with a time of 20:56.4, while sophomore Becca Lunn delivered the Cardinals’ fifth counting mark by running a sixth-place divisional time of 19:42.0.

Like Malo, Thatcher gradually passed a handful of runners throughout the sophomore race to capture second-place honors in 17:02.5 for Fairmont, while Krumholz garnered third place among seniors by crossing the finish line in 16:23.0 to pack scoring punch to the Cardinals’ fifth Early Bird crown over the last six years.

Kaitlin Johnson posted a third-place time of 20:13.3 among juniors to pace Blue Earth Area’s sixth-place team total of 50, while Callie Stevermer generated the Bucs’ best overall time of 18:44.7 to place sixth among senior girls.

Senior standout MaKenna Thurston captured the overall girls championship by covering the 4K course in 15:43.4 to steer Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial/ Nicollet to a third-place score of 24.

In the boys’ 4K competition, the junior tandem of Troy Parulski and Jackson Miest produced a 2-3 finish of 14:19.4 and 14:28.6, respectively, among juniors to power St. James Area to a winning team total of 17 — five points better than runner-up Fairmont.

“With St. James (Area) being ranked second after taking runner-up honors at state last year, I think second place today is probably the best we could’ve done considering the competition,” said Bonk. “Connor (Artner) and Will (Saari) combining for a 1-2 sophomore finish (respectively) was one of the keys to our high placing overall, and Andrew Moeller placing fifth among seniors was another.

“But one of the best moments of the day was having a first-year (cross country) runner, Tony Ortega, deliver a sixth-place finish among juniors. That was big for us.”

Ortega claimed sixth place in his age bracket by running a 15:49.8 to net fourth on the Cardinals’ roster, while junior Tyrell Zieske completed the counting scores by netting eighth among juniors in 16:08.4.

Moeller actually posted Fairmont’s best 4K time of 14:13.6 to place fifth among seniors, while Artner and Saari crossed the finish line in the sophomore race in 14:43.9 and 14:53.2, respectively.

Junior Grant Strukel pocketed his age bracket by placing first in 14:04.9 to generate Blue Earth Area’s best time of the invite en route to a seventh-place team total of 66.

Brady Olsen claimed fifth among juniors by pacing a time of 15:10.4 to add strength to the Bucs’ effort.

LSH senior Lane Schwarz won the boys overall crown by covering the 4K distance in a time of 13:35.4.

Fairmont runs in the Paul Metcalf Invitational at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Mountain Lake Golf Course, while Blue Earth Area travels to Mankato East for a 4 p.m. meet Tuesday.

2018 EARLY BIRD INVITE

Varsity Girls (4K)

Team Standings: 1. (won tiebreaker) Fairmont 17; 2. Le Sueur-Henderson 17; 3. Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial/Nicollet 24; 4. St. Peter 27; 5. Mountain Lake Area 37; 6. Blue Earth Area 50; 7. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown 55; 8. Jackson County Central 63; 9. St. James Area 68. Incomplete: Heron Lake-Okabena, Medford and New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva.

Individual Results (Top 5)

Senior Division: 1. MaKenna Thurston (LCWM/N) 15:43.4; 2. Victoria Flores (LSH) 16:19.6; 3. Sarah Krumholz (Fairmont) 16:23.0; 4. Olivia Flack (LCWM/N) 16:47.6; 5. Sarah Best (WEM) 18:27.4. Other Fairmont result: 17. Makena Rodriguez 22:54.5. B.E. Area results: 6. Callie Stevermer 18:44.7; 12. Amanda Jacobson 20:55.8; 14. Arianna Nagel 22:25.2; 15. Gabby Weerts 22:25.4; 23. Hayley Jahnke 29:02.4.

Junior: 1. Izzy Lind (STP) 16:18.4; 2. Alejandra Acevedo (STJ) 18:44.6; 3. Kaitlin Johnson (BEA) 20:13.3; 4. Micaela Vaale (NRHEG) 20:42.7; 5. Kobi Malo (Fairmont) 20:56.4.

Sophomore: 1. Arlett Rios (LSH) 16:50.5; 2. Tabitha Thatcher (Fairmont) 17:02.5; 3. Anika Fast (MLA) 18:43.8; 4. Abby Strom (LSH) 18:51.4; 5. Jocelyn Machtemes (LSH) 19:04.6. Other Fairmont result: 6. Becca Lunn 19:42.0.

Freshmen: 1. Laura Thompson (Fairmont) 16:02.8; 2. Hadley Stuehrenberg (STP) 16:29.8; 3. Lauren Dimler (WEM) 17:04.2; 4. Grace Moeller (LCWM/N) 17:07.0; 5. Cooper Vanden Einde (LSH) 17:50.8. Other Fairmont results: 7. Corene Moeller 19:06.3; 9. Brooklyn Pfeffer 19:14.0; 14. Emma Gudahl 19:34.9; 15. Eleanor Hamlet 19:36.1; 20. Hannah Linse 22:12.1. BEA results: 25. Aubrey Hueper 26:40.9; 26. Elizabeth Jacobson 27:29.9.

Varsity Boys (4K)

Team Standings: 1. St. James Area 17; 2. Fairmont 22; 3. (tie) St. Peter and Mt. Lake Area 25s; 5. JCC 37; 6. LSH 41; 7. B.E. Area 66; 8. Medford 80; 9. (tie) HLO and LCWM/Nicollet 88s. Incomplete: NRHEG and WEM.

Individual Results (Top 5)

Senior Division: 1. Lane Schwarz (LSH) 13:35.4; 2. Dalton Piotter (MLA) 13:40.3; 3. Bailey More (STP) 13:54.9; 4. Ryan Blomgren (MLA) 14:07.8; 5. Andrew Moeller (Fairmont) 14:13.6.

Other Fairmont results: 10. Darrian Kueker 15:27.7; 12. Dylan Kennedy 15:49.3. BEA results: 24. Eric Becker 18:22.0; 25. Blake Townsend 19:32.7.

Junior: 1. Grant Strukel (BEA) 14:04.9; 2. Troy Parulski (STJ) 14:19.5; 3. Jackson Miest (STJ) 14:28.6; 4. Mauricio Vite (STJ) 14:38.1; 5. Brady Olsen (BEA) 15:10.4.

Fairmont results: 6. Tony Ortega 15:49.8; 8. Tyrell Zieske 16:08.4; 12. Jacob Lueth 16:27.6.

Sophomore: 1. Connor Artner (Fairmont) 14:43.9; 2. William Saari (Fairmont) 14:53.2; 3. Tyler Stursa (MED) 15:02.5; 4. Daniel Nydegger (NRHEG) 15:08.1; 5. Austin Knickrehm (STJ) 15:15.2.

Other Fairmont result: 11. Cesar Flores 16:26.1. BEA results: 14. Cameron Germain 17:50.5; 22. James Greer 21:55.5.

Freshmen: 1. Connor Snow (STP) 15:48.9; 2. Caden Svoboda (MLA) 15:52.7; 3. Marco Crispin (STJ) 15:56.7; 4. Andrew Boyum (JCC) 17:11.9; 5. Mason Bobb (JCC) 17:39.5.

8th-Grade Individual Results

Girls Division (Top 5 — 1 Mile): 1. Addison Peed (WEM) 5:43.1; 2. Faith Olson (WEM) 6:10.5; 3. Ashlin Keyes (WEM) 6:12.7; 4. Madison Kunst (WEM) 6:39.4; 5. Emalyn Larson (LCWM/N) 6:47.4.

Fairmont results: 11. Lily Higgins 7:20.5; 12. Bethany Thatcher 7:30.4; 14. Mia Acosta 7:50.9; 15. Ava Gillmore 7:51.8; 19. Lacy DeJaynes 8:26.3.

Boys Division (Top 5 — 1 Mile): 1. Austin Erickson (Medford) 5:43.3; 2. Cohen Stursa (Medford) 5:44.7; 3. Conner Bjorling (St. Peter) 5:46.6; 4. Angel Martinez (Blue Earth Area) 5:48.1; 5. Gavin Selly (St. Peter) 5:51.6.

Fairmont result: 9. Alex Cruz 6:09.7. Other BEA results: 19. Alex Dikken 6:52.9; 20. Soren Fering 6:56.4; 23. Carson Strukel 7:03.0; 26. Shane Levenhagen 7:39.9; 28. Eli Paz 8:26.9.

7th-Grade Individual Results

Girls Division (Top 5 — 1 Mile): 1. Madison Zimbrich (WEM) 6:00.8; 2. Alexis Dahlberg (WEM) 6:10.2; 3. Katelin Flack (LCWM/N) 6:26.8; 4. Tallulah Drash (St. Peter) 6:41.9; 5. Katelyn Ojeda-Callejas (St. James) 6:45.8.

Boys Division (Top 5 — 1 Mile): 1. Sam Pidde (Mountain Lake Area) 5:25.6; 2. Kody Wassman (Mountain Lake Area) 5:31.3; 3. Joshua Bengston (WEM) 5:41.8; 4. Tim Salentiny (HLO) 5:43.2; 5. Mason Anderson (LCWM/N) 5:54.5.

Fairmont results: 14. Gavin Artner 6:29.7; 20. Raymone Thompson 7:03.6; 23. Sebastian Castro 7:29.1; 29. Reece Buntjer 7:58.2. BEA result: 26. James Hill 7:35.0.

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