Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Toms and Fernholz pace Knight runners last week

by Kris Beuckens

It was a hot and humid day for running on the hills at the Long Prairie/Grey Eagle Cross Country meet on September 14, but instead of giving in to the heat, the Knights worked through it and competed hard.

“Our boys and girls all ran hard today and we were pleased with their times on the tough course,” said WCA Head Coach John Van Kempen.

For the Knight girls, Kylee Fernholz appears to be getting into top form as the team rounds the corner toward the second half of the season. She ran right up there with the lead pack and finished in sixth place. Abby Peterson finished in twenty-sixth place, followed by Tee Rudnitski two spots behind, and Holly Van Kempen right behind Rudnitski.

“This was a tough course but our girls ran strong on the hills,” said Van Kempen. “We didn’t have any meets last week so we worked them pretty hard in anticipation of this course and those workouts appeared to have paid off.”

Mikaylah Stark finished in thirty-sixth place, followed by Ashton Blair in forty-first, Megan Andreasen in fifty-first.

“Four of our top seven runners are eighth graders and we’ve been so proud of how the girls go out and compete,” noted Van Kempen. “For such a young team, we do have a lot of varsity experience on their legs. The girls finished in fifth place of 13 teams, behind only some much larger schools that have proven programs.”

For the boys, junior Kyle Toms dueled back and forth with Little Falls runner Preston Zimny and finally finished in second place. Alex Toms finished in seventeenth place, followed by Neil Hyttsten in thirty-fifth and John Olhoft just one spot behind him. Bryan Starner finished in sixty-second place followed closely by Gage Odegaard and Tyler Severance.

“The boys finished in sixth place overall against some teams we will be seeing the section meet to go to state. Although we were hoping for a top five finish for the team, the boys had some good times on the difficult course in some hot weather,” noted Coach Van Kempen. “It was a good challenge for us to see where we are and where we need to go to challenge these teams, both individually and as a team. We feel like we are so close to getting over the hump to be a consistent team.

For the junior varsity boys, Carson Hunter finished in thirtieth place, followed by Alex Dahlen in forty-eighth and Kent Kjesbo three spots behind him. “We’re hoping that some of these boys can step up and add some punch to the varsity team as the season progresses.”

For the girls’ junior varsity, Marissa Skinnemoen finished in thirteenth place of the thirty-two runners.

The junior high boys were again led by seventh grader Jacob Rakozy finishing in seventh place. He was followed by Cory Wentland in twenty-fourth place, Tyler Schill in thirty-first and Niklas Strobel in thirty-seventh. For the girls junior high, Katie Poyzer received some hardware for her tenth place finish and Andrea Duncan finished in eighteenth place.

The Knights also competed last Thursday at New London – Spicer’s Little Crow Golf Course.

The girls finished in seventh place of the fifteen teams at the meet and were without the services of top runner Kylee Fernholz who could not run due to sickness. Then, to make matters worse, Tee Rudnitski slightly sprained her ankle during the race. “To finish where we did was better than I could have predicted with the health issues we had,” said Van Kempen.

Eighth grader Holly Van Kempen was our top runner in twentieth place. She was followed by Abby Peterson in thirty-first place, and Megan Andreasen in thirty-eighth.
“Megan really ran a great race as she knocked off more than two minutes from her previous race,” said the WCA coach. “Mikaylah Stark finished in forty-fourth, followed by Ashton Blair in forty-fifth and Rudnitski two spots behind Blair.

“There were many teams from our section there so maybe we can sneak up on some them in the section meet next time with our squad at 100 percent,” noted Van Kempen.

Kyle Toms again looked comfortable in winning the boys portion of the race. “As usual, he ran a smart race, hanging with the front runners and saving his energy for the end.” He ended up winning by twelve seconds which is a pretty good margin in a 5K.
Alex Toms placed seventeenth overall, Neil Hyttsten finished twenty-fourth and John Olhoft twenty-ninth. “John and Neil have been very close in every race so far, finishing in the top third of competitors which really helps our team score well,” said Van Kempen.

The boys finished in third place of the fifteen teams. Van Kempen said the team’s goal was to get over the hump of just finishing in the middle of the pack at these meets. “we’ve proved that we are capable of doing that for both the girls’ and boys’ teams. It looks like we may need to adjust our goals as the season progresses.”
Brian Starner finished in fifty-first place to round out the scoring for us as they only count the top five runners. Tyler Severance followed closely, finishing in fifty-sixth place and Gage Odegaard came in three spots behind him.

For the junior high, Katie Poyzer again ran a good race, finishing in fourteenth place of the 31 runners. “Katie has consistently been running with the front pack at these races.”

The boys were led by seventh grader Jacob Rakozy who finished in ninth place of the 46 runners. Cory Wentland finished in thirtieth place and Tyler Schill finished in thirty-ninth place.

For the junior varsity, ninth grader Andrea Duncan finished in twenty-second place and continues to improve as the year progresses. The junior varsity boys were led by Carson Hunter who placed fourteenth followed by Alex Dahlen in twentieth place, Kent Kjesbo in twenty-ninth and Niklas Strobel in thirty-fourth.

The Knights’ next action will be on Saturday, September 26 at The Milaca Megameet which is the largest high school cross country meet in the United States. There will be a few hundred teams competing from as far away as Colorado.

Editor's note: Due to severe space limitations in this week's Tribune, this story can be found on this blog.

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