With meets at Dassel-Cokato and Buffalo last week, the Waconia cross country teams faced their toughest meets of the season, according to WHS head coach Christian Gilbert.
“D-C and Buffalo are being used as practice meets,” he said. “This is our toughest week of the year in order to prepare the team for conference and section championships.”
At Dassel-Cokato on Sept. 24, the Waconia girls’ team finished third overall behind team champion Annandale, while the boys were seventh, under team champion Delano.
Senior Lexi Willems crossed the line first for WHS, finishing seventh overall in 16:35.05. Sophomore Carissa Dock was 12th in 17 minutes flat, while seventh grader Madison Denzer came in 16th in 17:28.95. Senior Katherine Jensen pulled off a top 20 finish, coming in 18th at 17:36.88.
Senior Kortney Luedloff and seventh grader Grace Zieske crossed the line together in 28th and 29th positions, turning in times of 18:00 and 18:00.73, respectively. Junior Mica Aslakson was back in the varsity lineup at D-C and finished 32nd in 18:20.63.
Finishing seventh over teams from Annandale and Rockford, the Waconia boys were led by sophomore Alex Carrabre and senior Tony Fulkerson. Carrabre finished 12th in 18:21.77 over Fulkerson in 15th in 18:41.36. Sophomore Josh Rands and seventh grader Kalin McDonough finished 34th and 35th, respectively, with times of 19:42.38 and 19:43.21.
Also crossing as a pair, in 44th and 45th positions, were freshman Zach Hennen and junior Taylor Kray. Hennen crossed in 20:06.83 with Kray close behind at 20:08.46. Eighth grader Adam Ebent rounded out the WHS runners in 47th at 20:12.81.
Delano took the boys’ team title by sweeping the top four places.
The Wildcats struggled at Buffalo on Sept. 26, where the girls tied for ninth of 15 teams and the boys were 12th of 13.
“We kind of got thumped this afternoon,” Gilbert said. “I love homecoming week … everyone is sick, tired or in trouble … wheels fell off.”
Willems finished 15th in 16:10 and Dock was 30th at 16:54.1. Junior Mikaela Kauma finished 49th at 17:34.7, before Denzer (18:00.7), Luedloff (18:01.2), and Jensen (18:04.4) crossed in 62nd, 63rd, and 67th places, respectively. Zieske finished 81st in 18:50.2. The junior varsity girls also finished ninth.
Carrabre finished 29th overall, leading the WHS boys in 18:33.2. Fulkerson was 34th in 18:41.6. Four Wildcats finished in the 60s, including Rands (60th, 19:45.8), McDonough (61st, 19:47), Hennen (65th, 20:00.4), and freshman Jack Kappel (69th, 20:14.2). Junior Jacob Tereau was 74th overall in 20:20.5.
The silver lining of the meet was the junior varsity boys’ fifth place finish.
“JV guys crushed it,” Gilbert said.
Sophomore Travis Kray, junior Taylor Kray, and sophomore Parker Roehl all finished in the top 30, crossing in 16th, 23rd, and 26th positions. Ebent and seventh grader Alec Sawyer were 34th and 37, while senior Jacob Steinbauer was 43rd and senior Alex Tryon-Tasson was 45th.
Overall, Gilbert said to expect 45-60 second drops in times across the board these next few weeks as the team prepares for the conference meet (Oct. 10) and sections (Oct. 24).
“Kids are running on tired legs, which is the plan,” he said. “We set up nicely in the conference.”
After seeing some WCC teams at Buffalo, Gilbert said it should be a fight.
“Conference Championship should be a battle royal,” he said. “Hutch and Orono just nipped us.”
Contact Melissa Marohl at firstname.lastname@example.org