Cross country season kicks into high gear at Milaca, Griak and Hudson meets

With conference and section cross country meets quickly approaching, the fall season hit its stride over the last two weeks with several high-profile events, including the Milaca Mega Meet (Sept. 21) and the Roy Griak Invitational at the University of Minnesota’s Les Bolstad Golf Course Sept. 28.

Members of the Coon Rapids girls' cross country team pose with the Hudson Invite trophy after placing five runners among the top 18, Sept. 24. Photo courtesy of Kim Kiecker
Members of the Coon Rapids girls’ cross country team pose with the Hudson Invite trophy after placing five runners among the top 18, Sept. 24. Photo courtesy of Kim Kiecker


Coon Rapids boys placed 43rd out of 51 teams in the Larry Zirgibel High School Boys’ Gold Division race at the 28th annual Griak Invite.

Cardinals senior Jackson Bednar paced the team with a 77th-place finish in 17:08, one week after placing 15th at Milaca in 16:30.5, 15 seconds from cracking the top 10.

Blaine and Anoka competed in the high school maroon division races. Blaine boys finished 12th, tying Hudson with 497 points, with Anoka 39th and Spring Lake Park 52nd out of 60 teams.

Blaine eighth-grader Ben Olson placed 43rd overall in 17:43 to pace the Bengals.

Bengals coach Rachel Karel said the course was by far the toughest the team will see all season because of the hilly nature at the Les Bolstad Golf Course. Wet conditions didn’t help with times but offered even more of a test, she said.

To combat the conditions and emotions of running in such a high-profile race, Karel had the team start slowly and pick up the pace.

“[Olson’s] usually a very consistent-paced runner so that can be a challenge for him,” she said.

Senior Oliver Houghtling was 100th and battled the course better than last season, while junior Peter Caron was 104th both in 18:15. Freshman Carter Woetzel was 133rd in 18:31.

The Bengals placed 19th among the 31-team field at the boys’ race in Milaca Sept. 21 on the course at Stones Throw Golf Course.

Olson led the Bengals with a 35th-place finish in 17:01.1 and junior Ryan Morff was second on the team (90th overall) in 17:38.0 and Peter Caron was third (101st overall) in 17:46. Houghtling was fourth on the team (109th) in 17:48.7.

“We’re very optimistic about the teams finishing higher in the conference and section meets based on what they’re doing right now,” Karel said.

Spring Lake Park freshman George Elsesser finished 140th at the Griak Invite in 18:33. Juniors Gullit Nyang and Jason O placed 234 and 235, respectively.

Anoka senior Jeff Barstow was 160th in 18:43 to lead the squad at the Griak Invite with sophomore Harrison Redepenning 207th in 19:04. He was followed by seniors Ken Gast (225th in 19:11) and Brian Kraemer (230th in 19:15). Junior Connor Gunsburry was 281st in 19:44.

Barstow was coming off a 53rd-place finish at the Milaca Mega Meet Sept. 21 and the team placed 24th.


Minneapolis Washburn won the Griak Invite race with four runners among the top 21 places.

The Maroon race on the girls’ side was highlighted by Anoka’s 16th-place finish among the 50-team field. The Tornadoes were led by seniors Alexis Fritz (35th overall in 20:43) and Lindsey Gast (40th in 20:49). Fritz was 1:43 behind Washburn seventh grader and race champion Emily Covert.

Anoka freshmen teammates Isabelle Brezinka and Maria Kalkman placed 102nd and 109th in 21:45 and 21:48, respectively.

One day earlier, Anoka competed at the Mustang Invitational at Chippewa Middle School, North Oaks, Wis.,

A pair of eighth graders led the Tornadoes, including Sydney Paulson who finished fourth place overall in 16:52.9 and Noelle Josephson who was 33rd in 17:55.

Coon Rapids girls placed 32nd (out of 50 teams) at the Gary Wilson High School Girls’ Gold Division race.

Freshman Bryna Delcastillo led the Cardinals round the course with a 46th-place finish in 19:51. Four days earlier, Coon Rapids won the Hudson Invite over Washburn  by four points. Five Cardinals placed among the top 18 places led by DelCastillo’s seventh place finish. Kaitlyn Benson was 12th, Elise Weimolt was 14th, Rachel Davis was 17th and Susan Porter was 18th.

St. Francis placed 44th in the Gold Division at the Griak and was led by senior Rebecca O’Hotto’s 197th-place finish in 22:43.

Spring Lake Park placed 31st as a team and was led by sophomore standout Erin Guse’s 13th-place finish in 19:54. Sophomore teammate Gabby Fey was 115th in 21:53. Freshmen teammates Jacy Super and Annie Sheedlo were 184th and 224th in 22:35 and 23:00, respectively.

Blaine girls scored a 39th-place finish, led by seventh-grader Sarah Olson’s 71st-place overall in 21:37.

Karel said team ran great, given that it was on a longer than usual five-kilometer course instead of the typical 4,000 meters. “I was proud of how hard [Olson] ran, considering her age and size,” she said.

The Bengals coach was especially impressed by freshman Kirstie Ziegler’s performance. She was fourth on the team, tying senior Emma Cherney in 23:00 to place 225 and 223, respectively.


Andover boys placed 16th at Milaca, led by senior Chris Meados (17th overall) in 16:32.2. Sophomores Lucas Olson and Alec Lorimer placed 70th and 73rd overall and second and third on the team, respectively. Senior Simeon Toronto was fourth on the team and 100th overall.

Andover girls garnered 14th place overall, led by senior Maddie McKeefry’s eighth-place finish in 14:59.4. Sophomore Katie Breuckman was 56th in 16:01.2.

Five days later (Sept. 26) the Huskies came away with a runner-up finish for the boys and fifth place for the girls at the Buffalo Invite.

The Huskies boys’ team tied Buffalo for the team title with 86 points. Andover’s top four runners finished 21st or better. Sophomore Alec Lorimer edged Meados by 0.4 seconds for 11th place and junior teammate Nathan Engstrom was 17th in 17:50.7. Lucas Olson, a sophomore, was 21st and Toronto was 25th.

Andover girls’ were paced by McKeefry who placed fourth in 15:31.6. Freshman Alysse DeFoe was 41st in 17:21.4 and sophomores Madeline Walker, Katie Breuckman and Michelle Holms placed 48th, 55th and 66th, respectively.


Jason Olson is at
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