Fairmont girls team runs to state cross country bid
BLUE EARTH — After a one-year break, the Fairmont Cardinals girls cross country team is headed back to state.
Fairmont totaled 73 points, behind only Belle Plaine’s 59, to earn second place at the Section 2A cross country meet at Riverside Town & Country Club in Blue Earth.
“It feels wonderful,” said Fairmont head coach Bob Bonk. “This will be the 25th girls team to go, but I guarantee it doesn’t get old. Honestly I kind of thought, last year we got fourth. With three teams ahead of us, who didn’t really graduate anybody, and we lost our No. 2 girl to graduation in Sarah Krumholz, I thought, ‘It might be tough to get back here anytime soon.’ … It was a real team effort. All seven got in the top 30 and in the top fourth of the race.”
Laura Thompson took gold in the girls race with her time of 19:08.2, while Fairmont seventh-grader Macy Hanson claimed fourth overall with her all-conference time of 19:36.7.
Carys Gudahl produced Fairmont’s third top-20 place when she finished 19th in 20:41.3, while teammate Tabitha Thatcher placed 22nd in 20:56.9.
Ellie Ortega, Emma Gudahl and Hannah Neusch all came running in together, passing each other to try to be Fairmont’s final contributing time.
Ortega ended up with the final counting place when she finished 27th in 21:27.9, while Emma Gudahl was on her heels at 21:28.1 for 28th and Hannah Neusch was 29th in 21:28.3.
Joining Fairmont in the girls race at state will be two individuals from Martin County West/Martin Luther.
Marissa Whitehead led the Maverick girls with a ninth-place finish in 20:11.4, while Katie Hartke was right behind her in 20:14.9 for 11th overall.
MCW/ML head coach Stannetta Svoboda said Marissa Whitehead has been a big help for the team and for Hartke.
“Marissa worked really hard all summer, she put in a lot of miles,” Svoboda said. “That’s all paying off. She’s been great as a leader and as our captain and she’s really helped Katie because they’re running partners.
“For Katie and Jake (Lewis), they’re both gonna have a great week. The biggest thing for them is to take in the moment because it all goes by really fast.”
The Mavericks’ girls team finished fifth overall with 160 points.
Caitlin Whitehead was the third Maverick to hit the chute when she finished 41st in 21:58.8, while Kari Matejka crossed the finish line in 48th with a time of 22:26.6.
Emily Matejka wasn’t far behind, finishing in 22:35 for 51st, while Brianna Morrow took 55th in 22:50 and Ivy Kokoruda finished 60th at 23:03.2.
The Blue Earth Area girls ended 19th with 557 points.
Elizabeth Jacobson (26:18.7) led the Buc girls with her 101st-place finish, while Leah Becker took 108th at 27:09.8.
Autumn Gordon took 110th at 27:44, Aubrey Hueper placed 117th at 29:33.1 and Addison Smith finished 121st at 30:22.1.
Three area boys advanced to the Class A state meet.
MCW/ML’s Jake Lewis took seventh overall with a time of 16:40.1, BEA’s Grant Strukel will head to state for a third consecutive year after placing 10th with a time of 16:46.8 and Fairmont’s William Saari will make a return run at state after finishing 11th in 16:49.
Saari led the Fairmont boys to a sixth-place finish with 191 points.
Connor Artner was the next Cardinal boy to hit the chute when he clocked in at 17:41.2 for 24th, while Tony Ortega finished 37th at 18:25.1.
Tyrell Zieske took 44th at 18:39.3 and Alex Cruz produced the final Fairmont counting time of 19:30.5, good for 75th.
Will Niestrath (85th) ran a time of 19:43.8 for the Cardinals, while Gavin Artner (103rd) finished in 20:34.3.
“Team-wise, I’ve kind of been a broken record, we’ve been in the top half of the race all year,” Bonk said. “That was my minimum goal, and I thought a real accomplishment would be top third and we were able to do that to. That was a strong, strong performance. I’m very happy for Will to make it again, he seems to always rise to the occasion when it counts the most and he definitely deserves to be in there again.”
Lewis’ seventh-place finish led the Mavericks to a 236-point showing, placing the team eighth.
Riley Cole was the second MCW/ML boy to finish when he took 41st at 18:35.6, then Isaiah Johnson took 60th at 19:04.9.
Kylar Larson was right behind Johnson with his 61st-place time of 19:07, then Grant Koehnen took 62nd with a time of 19:10.
Todd Morrow (19:40.8) finished 84th and Nick Matejka (21:42.2) took 117th for the Mavericks.
Strukel’s 10th-place finish not only led the BEA boys to a 14th-place finish with 374 points, but continued Strukel’s stately appearances.
BEA head coach Todd Plocker said Strukel powered his way through pain.
“It wasn’t the easiest season for him,” Plocker said. “We haven’t really been able to do a lot to help what’s hampering him, but this is just a good case of will triumphing over any kind of physical issues. He just kind of willed his way around the course today to earn another state berth.
“Just a big credit to him, even though he’s not feeling his best and the year hasn’t gone as smoothly as he wanted, he came through in the end.”
Angel Martinez was the next BEA boy to hit the chute when he finished 54th in 18:55.6, while Cameron Germain finished 92nd with a time of 19:52.1.
Carson Strukel finished 96th at 19:57.5 and Nate Phippen had the final BEA counting time of 22:34.1, good for 122nd. Damion Mahlstedt (22:36.9) finished 123rd for the Bucs.
Ella Bergeman led the Madelia/Truman/Granada-Huntley-East Chain girls with her 44th-place finish in 22:03.9, while Samantha Moeller took 94th at 25:01.3.
Coral Soborn finished 114th in 27:08.3 for the Jayhawks and Sarah Jelokov took 129th at 31:10.7.
The Jayhawks did not have enough runners to place as a team in either girls or boys race.
Josiah DeMaris finished first for the Jayhawk boys with his time of 19:26.8, finishing 75th, while Jacob Moeller took 98th at 20:02.25.
Luke Kester finished 130th for the Jayhawks with his time of 22:46.6 and Kyle Pietsch took 131st at 24:48.8.
The Fairmont girls team, Marissa Whitehead, Hartke, Lewis, Strukel and Saari will all compete Saturday, Nov. 2, at the Class A state meet at St. Olaf College in Northfield. The girls race will start at 1 p.m. and the boys race will start at 2 p.m.
SECTION 2A MEET
Team results (Top 2 advance to state): 1. Belle Plaine 59; 2. Fairmont 73; 3. WEM/JWP 95; 4. Glencoe-Silver Lake 133; 5. Martin County West/Martin Luther 160; 6. Le Sueur-Henderson 163; 7. Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop 214; 8. St. James Area 224; 9. Tri-City United 294; 10. Mankato Loyola/Cleveland 313; 11. Sleepy Eye United 344; 12. Sibley East 348; 13. Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial/Nicollet 353; 14. New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva 362; 15. Norwood Young America 396; 16. United South Central/Alden-Conger 416; 17. Maple River 437; 18. Medford 551; 19. Blue Earth Area 557.
Incomplete: Madelia/Truman/ Granada-Huntley-East Chain.
Individual results (Top 15 all-section): 1. Laura Thompson (F) 19:08.2; 2. Grace Feder (GFW) 19:24.5; 3. McKenna Herrmann (BP) 19:25.8; 4. Macy Hanson (F) 10:36.7; 5. Addison Peed (WEMJWP) 10:46.8; 6. Clare Fischer (SEU) 19:47.4; 7. Paola Acevedo (SJA) 19:53.2; 8. Kendall Guerrero (GSL) 20:04.8; 9. Marissa Whitehead (MCWML) 20:11.3; 10. Lauren Dimler (WEMJWP) 20:13.8; 11. Katie Hartke (MCWML) 20:14.8; 12. Belle Jeurissen (BP) 20:16.4; 13. Aly Jeurissen (BP) 20:17.7; 14. Ellie Nygren (MLC) 20:20.1; 15. Malina Koepp (BP) 20:24.7.
Other Fairmont results: 19. Carys Gudahl 20:41.3, 22. Tabitha Thatcher 20:56.9, 27. Ellie Ortega 21:27.9, 28. Emma Gudahl 21:28.1, 29. Hannah Neusch 21:28.3.
Other MCW results: 41. Caitlin Whitehead 21:58.8, 48. Kari Matejka 22:26.6, 51. Emily Matejka 22:35.0, 55. Brianna Morrow 22:50.0, 60. Ivy Kokoruda 23:03.2.
BEA results: 101. Elizabeth Jacobson 26:18.7, 108. Leah Becker 27:09.8, 110. Autumn Gordon 27:44.0, 117. Aubrey Hueper 29:33.1, 121. Addison Smith 30:22.1.
Team results: 1. St. James Area 41; 2. Mankato Loyola/Cleveland 113; 3. Tri-City United 121; 4. Belle Plaine 149; 5. Glencoe-Silver Lake; 6. Fairmont 191; 7. Norwood Young America 227; 8. Martin County West/Martin Luther 236; 9. Medford 236; 10. Sibley East 245; 11. WEM/JWP 258; 12. Maple River 266; 13. Le Sueur-Henderson 284; 14. Blue Earth Area 374; 15. Sleepy Eye United 414; 16. Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial/Nicollet 448; 18. Minnesota Valley Lutheran 463.
Incomplete: Madelia/Truman/ Granada-Huntley-East Chain.
Individual results (Top 15 all-section): 1. Mitchell Johnstone (MLC) 16:08.19; 2. Seth Pierson (SJA) 16:18.73; 3. Caleb Rivera (SJA) 16:21.84; 4. Austin Antony (TCU) 16:22.44; 5. Troy Parulski (SJA) 16:29.93; 6. Drew Hastings (BP) 16:35.35; 7. Jake Lewis (MCWML) 16:40.03; 8. Emmett Gerres (BP) 16:41.04; 9. Connor Hallaway (GSL) 16:45.03; 10. Grant Strukel (BEA) 16:46.77; 11. William Saari (F) 16:48.98; 12. Jerrett Peterson (MLC) 16:51.68; 13. Hunter Rutt (TCU) 16:55.29; 14. Jackson Miest (SJA) 17:02.61; 15. Tyler Erickson (MLC) 17:05.60.
Other Fairmont results: 24. Connor Artner 17:41.2, 37. Tony Ortega 18:25.1, 44. Tyrell Zieske 18:39.3, 75. Alex Cruz 19:30.5, 85. Will Niestrath 19:43.8, 103. Gavin Artner 20:34.3.
Other MCW/ML results: 46. Riley Cole 18:41.8, 60. Isaiah Johnson 19:04.9, 61. Kylar Larson 19:07.0, 62. Grant Koehnen 19:10.0, 84. Todd Morrow 19:40.8, 117. Nick Matejka 21:42.2.
Other BEA results: 54. Angel Martinez 18:55.6, 92. Cameron Germain 19:52.1, 96. Carson Strukel 19:57.5, 122. Nate Phippen 22:34.1, 123. Damion Mahlstedt 22:36.9.