MARSHALL - Their performances during Monday's Marshall Cross Country Invitational gave the Tiger girls' and boys' teams different views of where they are and where they're going.
For the Marshall girls, the event at Independence Park showcased the program's continued rise as an emerging cross country power. Led by two runners who have yet to even enter high school, the Tiger girls had a tightly-packed group at the top and finished in a tie for first with Adrian at 50 points. Marshall won the tiebreak due to having a sixth runner, which the Dragons lacked.
The Marshall boys, on the other hand, continued to battle injuries with the absence of runners Tanner Bukowski and Matt Christianson. The winner of its home invite last year, the short-handed Marshall boys' squad finished in third on Monday with 81 points and learned it has some catching up to do with Southwest Conference foes Redwood Valley (44 points) and Worthington (53), who took the top two spots.
Photo by Matt Dahlseid
Members of the Marshall girls’ cross country team take their opening strides after starting the Marshall Invitational Monday at Independence Park in Marshall. The Marshall and Adrian girls tied atop the team standings with 50 points, but the Tigers were awarded first place due to their sixth runner.
There was no looking up this time for the Marshall girls. The Tigers, who placed second at the event last year and fourth two years ago, claimed top honors thanks to having five of the top 13 finishers. Seventh-grader Nichole Sample finished fourth with a time of 16 minutes, 10.9 seconds while competing in just her second varsity meet ever. She was joined in the top 10 by teammate Claire Boersma, an eighth-grader who took 10th with a time of 16:42.3.
First-year Marshall girls' head coach Marie Sample, Nichole Sample's mother, said the reason for her runners' quick start to the season is easy to explain - they worked for it.
"A real key to our success right now is our ladies ran over the summer," Marie Sample said. "We ran together four days a week, we ran Camden hills, and they're a lot stronger because of that. It's nice.
"They are where they're at right now because we worked hard in the summer and we're starting to see that. It's exciting. There are a lot of good things to come."
Boersma had a trio of teammates hot on her heels and nipping at the top 10. Freshman Rose Andersen finished 11th (16:43.7), senior Madi Verschaetse was 12th (16:48.9) and senior Shyla Hansen took 13th (16:53.8). Marshall's sixth and seventh runners were also very competitive, as junior Jenna Christianson was 17th (17:19.5) and Sarah Buysse was 22nd (17:46.0) in the 67-runner field.
Nichole Sample said she has just started running competitively over the past year and has been "very nervous" running against the older girls in her first two varsity races. She said she's a bit surprised with her early success, but has been having a blast being part of a rising team.
"I think we've been doing really well," she said. "It's really fun going out there and competing with my friends. We're friends, too, when we're not on the course, but really good competitors and push each other really well when we're on the course and practicing."
The Tiger runners got plenty of good competition from not only themselves, but a couple of area Class A powers on Monday.
Jordin Kopplow's second-place finish (15:54.0) led an Adrian team that placed four runners in the top seven. Canby/Minneota/Lincoln HI also had a strong showing with three runners in the top nine en route to their third-place finish as a team (68 points). Leah Jessen finished sixth for the Lancers (16:25.8), Amanda Grengs was eighth (16:34.6) and Natalie Dinius finished in ninth place (16:36.6).
"There are some really strong Class A schools in our area and it's nice to have them around so we can get beat on by them a little," Marie Sample said. "We're thankful for them for sure and glad they could make it and give our girls a run for their money. I'm glad we came out on top, but (Adrian and C/M/L) are a couple tough groups of kids."
The Marshall boys were also pushed by a pair of tough teams, but they found themselves unable to prevail against Redwood Valley and Worthington.
Andrew Bell did his part in trying to make up for the absence of Bukowski and Christianson by finishing third with a time of 16:57.1. He said the loss of Bukowski, who is usually a top-two runner for Marshall, is something that is difficult to make up.
"That really affected our team because with him it helps push the rest of the team up," Bell said of Bukowski. "We're testing out some JV kids, but with the loss of Tanner we're kind of set back. Hopefully by Thursday we'll be ready to go and get back on track."
Bukowski is questionable for Thursday's meet in Hutchinson due to an injured hip flexor, and Christianson is out with a hurt ankle.
Bell finished quite a ways in front of Marshall's healthy runners. Sophomore Blaine Moran took 12th with his time of 17:48.8, Wade DeAustin was 16th (17:55.2), Mike Larson took 20th (18:14.1) and John Botsford was 30th (19:05.9) in the 81-runner field.
Marshall boys' head coach Mike Jacobs said that even with Bukowski, the Tigers still may not have won the team title over their conference rivals.
"We still have our work cut out for us," Jacobs said. "It's not, 'Oh, just insert Tanner and it'll be all good.'
"I guess you'd have to say we're a work in progress, but the positive thing is we have a lot of time to develop here. I think we have the athletes to rise to the occasion. If they get their minds set and think that this is something that's worth working for, they can overcome this little deficit."
Fourth-place finisher Canby/Minneota/Lincoln HI (115 points) was dealing with injuries of its own. The Lancers' top runner, Nick Stoks, is still out with a hamstring injury, but C/M/L head coach Beth Jessen said she expects him to return for their next race. Sophomore McKinley Johansen led the Lancers in Stoks' place, finishing seventh with a time of 17:20.6.
The top individual finisher on the girls' side was Redwood Valley's Kayla Huhnerkoch (15:42.3). And on the boys' side, Willmar Community Christian's Ben Burgett was first with his time of 16:43.2. Worthington's Amanuel Fissiha took fourth (17:12.2) to pace the Trojans to their second-place finish.
Among other top area finishers, Yellow Medicine East's Jacob Carroll was ninth (17:37.3) and Tracy-Milroy-Balaton junior Matt Lavoy was 15th (17:51.3).
Marshall Cross Country Invitational
Girls Team Results: *t1. Marshall 50; t1. Adrian 50; 3. Canby/Minneota/Lincoln HI 68; 4. Redwood Valley 93; 5. Worthington 126; 6. Murray County Central/Fulda 142; 7. Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 154. Incomplete Teams: Pipestone, SCMC, SWMC, Willmar Community Christain, Windom Are, Yellow Medicine East.
Top 10 Individuals: 1. Kayla Huhnerkock (RV) 15:42.3; 2. Jordin Kopplow (ADRIAN) 15:54.0; 3. Nicole Slater (ADRIAN) 16:06.1; 4. Nichole Sample (MAR) 16:10.9; 5. Megan Sauer (ADRIAN) 16:15.4; 6. Leah Jessen (CML) 16:25.8; 7. Morgan Sauer (ADRIAN) 16:31.6; 8. Amanda Grengs (CML) 16:34.6; 9. Natalie Dinius (CML) 16:36.6; 10. Claire Boersma (MAR)16:42.3.
Marshall Individual Results: 4. Nichole Sample 16:10.9; 10. Claire Boersma 16:42.3; 11. Rose Andersen 16:43.7; 12. Madi Verschaetse 16;48.9; 13. Shyla Hansen 16:53.8; 17. Jenna Christianson 17:19.5; 22. Sarah Buysse 17:46.0.
C/M/L Individual Results: 6. Leah Jessen 16:25.8; 8. Amanda Grengs 16:34.6; 9. Natalie Dinius 16:36.6; 21. Sydney Sisk 17:43.6; 24. Heidi Pavek 17:58.8; 28. Morgan Merritt 18:57.0.
MCC Individual Results: 25. Melissa Gehl 18:04.7; 27. Sariah Cheadle 18:18.8; 29. Lizzette Garza 19:05.0; 30. Maddie Dibble 19:09.1; 31. Breanna Breberg 19:20.5; 38. Jamie Schnoor 20:57.4.
TMB Individual Results: 20. Elodie Tholen 17:32.0; 23. Nichole Iverson 17:53.1; 32. Cassandra Iverson 19:26.9; 37. Galiya Bitton 20:06.6; 42. McKynna Cochran 22:03.5; 44. Ellie Tiegs 23:19.6.
YME Individual Results: 47. Morgan Field 20:12.8; 53. Allison Carmany 21:04.0.
Boys Team Results: 1. Redwood Valley 44; 2. Worthington 53; 3. Marshall 81; 4. Canby/Minneota/Lincoln HI 115; 5. Windom Area 174; 6. Murray County Central/Fulda 186; 7. Yellow Medicine East 191; 8. SCMC 207; 9. Willmar Community Christian 224; 10. Pipestone Area 225; 11. Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 233. Incomplete Teams: Adrian, Lakeview.
Top 10 Individuals: 1. Ben Burgett (WCC) 16:43.2; 2. Ryan Phillips (RV) 16:45.0; 3. Andrew Bell (MAR) 16:57.1; 4. Amanuel Fissiha (WORTH) 17:12.2; 5. Alex Amundrud (RV) 17:12.8; 6. Ethan Spittle (WORTH) 17:14.2; 7. McKinley Johansen (CML) 17:20.6; 8. Nick VonMosch (RV) 17:31.4; 9. Jacob Carroll (YME) 17:37.3; 10. Matthew Jirele (WORTH) 17:38.3.
Marshall Individual Results: 3. Andrew Bell 16:57.1; 12. Blaine Moran 17:48.8; 16. Wade DeAustin 17:55.2; 20. Mike Larson 18:14.1; 30. John Botsford 19:05.9; 38 Zach Drum 19:37.0; 54. Chase VanKeulen 20:35.8.
C/M/L Individual Results: 7. McKinley Johansen 17:20.6; 24. Wyatt Johansen 18:25.1; 25. Travis Dinius 18:30.1; 27. Billy Deslauriers 18:59.6; 32. Levi Citrowske 19:17.4; 46. Kyler Jelen 20:08.5.
MCC/Fulda Individual Results: 28. Andy Garza 19:00.2; 29. Aaron Boock 19:04.7; 37. Jack Erickson 19:31.3; 42. Nathan Beech 19:52.5; 50; Chris Ellens 20:17.6; 61. Jacob Boerboom 21:23.2; 62. Andrew Appel 21:31.6.
YME Individual Results: 9. Jacob Carroll 17:37.3; 35. Sergey Schuler 19:30.3; 44. Clint Thomas 20:06.3; 48. Austin Thomas 20:14.6; 55. Blake Helgeson 20:43.0; 65. Isaac Rillo 22:13.2.
TMB Individual Results: 15. Matt Lavoy 17:51.3; 45. Ben Alberg 20:08.0; 53. Nick Timmerman 20:32.1; 57. Shane Parker 20:55.5; 63. Mark DeSmith 21:37.0; 66. Mason Van Essen 22:22.1; 69. Myer Van Essen 22:39.3.
Lakeview Individual Results: 42. Grant Taylor 19:42.7; 69. Max Horner 21:55.7.
(*) - The Marshall girls' team won the tiebreak with Adrian due to their sixth runner.