Conditions were 40° F and windy at race time, but the Tuesday chill in Lake Crystal didn't affect the Loyola/Cleveland cross country team much, and the boys took home the Valley Conference title for the sixth time in the past eight years.
All seven Crusader runners were among the top 15 to cross the finish line. Their 31 points were 22 better than silver place Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial/Nicollet.
“We have been running really well in the cold the past few meets, so I knew we could handle another cold day,” said head coach Dale Compton. “And we knew that since we were in Lake Crystal, it would be windy, and everyone was prepared for that.”
First for the Crusaders and 3rd overall of the 40 runners was Soren Kelly with a 17:46 finish. James Younge was right behind Kelly for 4th place overall. Just three seconds later, Nathan Strobel crossed the wire for 5th place.
“Our top three boys continued to run together as they have been doing all season,” Compton said.
Sam Vetter ran the course in 18:05 for 8th overall. He and the Crusaders in front of him all earned All-Conference honors.
Rounding out the Loyola/Cleveland top five, Corbin Deichman finished in 11th place with an 18:15 for an All-Conference Honorable Mention. Spurring the quintet along, Jorden Rossow finished in 13th place with an 18:25. He also was an honorable mention.
“Jorden ran his best race of the season so far with a :20 season best,” Compton said. “He is coming into form at just the right time of the year.”
Carter Zimmerman finished in 18:54 for 15th place and also an honorable mention.
Also in the race, Kyle Zimmerman was 16th, Chase Kijenski was 20th, Andrew Buboltz was 22nd, TJ Waldron was 24th (19:60), and Mitchell Buboltz was 28th.
With a 69, M/T/GHEC/ML took 3rd among the varsity boys teams while MCW was 4th with an 84.
Meanwhile the Crusaders girls took 2nd place. Their 43 was 10 points behind first place MCW.
“Our girls had their best races of the season,” Compton said. “We had three runners in the top 10 and two more in the top 15. I was happy to see them all work hard and give great efforts today.”
Molly Koester was 2nd overall of the 22 runners with a 22:23 finish. Charlotte Kirschner was 6th with a 23:22, and Lilly Phillips was 9th with a 24:19. The trio earned All-Conference honors.
With an 11th-place 25:03 finish, Cora Koester was an honorable mention. Jewel Factor finished the course in 27:12 for 15th place. Factor had to outsprint two LCWM/N girls in the last 100 meters to earn the final All-Conference Honorable mention award as well as secure the 2nd place finish for her team.
“It was a great finish to her race,” Compton said.
LCWM/N was just a point behind the Crusaders. M/T/GHEC/ML didn’t have enough runners to field a team.
In the junior high girls 3200, Izazy Endress and Giesele McCabe finished 1st and 2nd respectively of four runners.
Taking the top for slots among the 21 runners, the Crusaders dominated the junior high boys race. Nick Huisken was 1st, Elijah Mons was 2nd (12:55.29), Matthew Soupir was 3rd, and Andrew Tieva was 4th.
From there, Thomas Soupir was 7th, Thane Remiger was 8th (14:40), Reece Nelson was 9th (15:06), and Charlie Maxfield was 10th (15:08).
Brian Buboltz was 15th, Isaac Coudron was 17th, Gavin Waagner was 18th, Jax Leagjeld was 19th (15:54), and Gabe Speckel was 20th.
Conditions were also cold and windy at the Jayhawk Invitational on the Madelia golf course on the Thursday before.
With a score of 46, the Crusader boys won the meet. Their top five were Younge in 5th (17:42), Strobel in 6th (17:45), Kelly in 8th (17:53), Vetter in 10th (18:06), and Deichman in 17th (18:37).
Butterfield-Odin was second with a 75, M/T/GHEC/ML was third with a 99. Rounding out the field were Springfield/Cedar Mountain (113), Sleepy Eye/St. Mary's/NUC (114), Maple River (127), LCWM/N (176), MCW (185) and MVL (190).
For the incomplete varsity girls, Molly Koester was 7th (22:02), Cora Koester was 23rd (24:55), and Factor was 34th (26:55). Maple River won the meet with a 43. GFW was 2nd with a 52. Springfield/Cedar Mountain was 3rd (57), MCW was 4th (73), and the Sleepy Eye-NUC combo was 5th (117).
The Crusader varsity teams return to action on Thursday when they return to Norwood Young America for the sectional tournament at Baylor Park.
Above: The Valley Conference champion boys team. It includes, from L-R, front row: Mitchell Buboltz, Carter Zimmerman, James Younge and Kyle Zimmerman. Back row: Andrew Buboltz, Sam Vetter, Jorden Rossow, Nathan Strobel, Corbin Deichman, Chase Kinjenski and Soren Kelly. (photo courtesy of Dale Compton)
Gavin Waagner, Hannah Coudron and Jax Leadjeld race at Madelia.
Jewel Factor finishing strong during the varsity girls race in Madelia.
Thayne Remiger during his fastest 5K of the season at Madelia.
Charlie Maxfield leads two teammates, Charlotte Kirschner (middle) and Lily Phillips (right), early in the junior high race at Madelia.
Andrew Tieva and Elijah Mons running through the two-mile mark in Madelia.
Reece Nelson leads out a group of Crusaders at the start of the Jayhawk junior high race.
All photos courtesy of Dale Compton.