The Tiger cross country teams went south last week and although Thursday’s trip to the Pine Island Invitational was not a vacation it did provide a break from the high-caliber competition they had faced the first three weeks of the season.
Neither Farmington team came home with a championship trophy but each finished fourth in its nine-team respective field and many of the Tiger runners turned in season-best finishing times.
“It wasn’t the competition level we have faced the last several weeks,” Tiger coach Keith Revels said, “but I thought the boys ran pretty well and the girls keep improving.”
Zumbrota-Mazeppa/Kenyon-Wanamingo won the boys championship with a meet low total of 34 points. Rochester Lourdes took second with 57 points, followed by United South Central/Alden-Conger (61), Farmington (124), Lewiston-Rushford-Peterson (129), Plainview-Elgin-Millville (152), Hayfield (196), Chatfield (217) and Pine Island (222). Travis Beniak of Zumbrota-Mazeppa/Kenyon-Wanamingo won individual honors, covering the 5000-meter course in 16:28.
Tiger sophomore Ryan Monroe battled cold symptoms but still managed to lead the Farmington contingent with a 17:54 finishing time. Jeff Alm clocked 18:27, Rob Higgins 18:43, Erik Huls 18:47, Bill Solinger 18:55, Brice Degrand 19:03 and Michael Matter 19:41 to complete the varsity lineup.
“We had our top five all finish under 19 minutes and they all finished in a span of 61 seconds,” Revels said. “The time gap is closing.”
Nineteen other Farmington boys ran in the race, with Brandon Stohfus leading that pack at 19:48. Tyler Hett finished in 20:36, Chad Retterath 20:49, Jimmy Merle 20:51, Jacob Gerten 21:03, Graison Hensley-Chapman 21:14, Rik Newbury 21:16, Brandon Stodghill 21:16, BJ Wratz 21:38, Kyle Lemke 21:38, Carl Elmer 21:31, Joe Simonsen 21:40, Nathan Breuer 21:52, Brandon Meyer 21:54, Eric Adrian 22:48, Will Pauling 23:15, Nathan Kashak 24:22, Jarid Hockert 24:50 and Michael Lawrence 24:59.
Taylor Kampa ran the 2400-meter middle school race, placing eighth overall in 10:38.
Lourdes ran away with the girls title, easily outpointing runner-up Lewiston-Rushford-Peterson 25-86. Zumbrota-Mazeppa/Kenyon-Wanamingo took third with 112 points, followed by Farmington (123), United South Central/Alden-Conger (128), Chatfield (143), Plainview-Elgin-Millville (173), Cannon Falls (182) and Hayfield (213). Kristen Ostrem of Lewiston-Rushford-Peterson took medalist honors with a 15:51 clocking over the 4000-meter route.
Bailey Opsal again finished atop the Tiger leaderboard with a time of 17:13, 11 seconds in front of Mollie McMahon who checked in at 17:24. Jackie Beckett also broke the 18:00 minute mark at 17:56. Danielle Anderson ran 18:12, Shannon Doherty 18:17, Hannah McMahon 19:08 and Kelsie Suppes 19:18.
“Our third through fifth runners were within 1:04 of Bailey (Opsal),” Revels said. “That’s what we want to see. Hopefully, as the top runners shave seconds off their times so will the ones behind them.”
Brittany Braatz led the rest of the pack with a finishing time of 19:44. Melissa Marschall finished in 20:02, Emily Gerster 20:12, Jamie Kenealy 20:32, Betsy Anderson 20:46, Leah Morgan 20:51, Heidi Gerten 21:50, Abby Kenealy 21:50, April Hayes 21:50, Chrissy Sell 22:25, Sara Roethle 23:22 and Kayla Bohannon 26:26.
Revels said the focal point in upcoming practices would be developing more competition among runners.
“That’s a sign of a healthy team,” he said. “As we get more competitive within our own teams, we will become more competitive with the schools we run against.”