WADENA — Both Perham Cross Country teams defended their titles at the Johanna Olson Wadena-Deer Creek meet in two dominating team performances at Whitetail Run Golf Course Tuesday afternoon.
The boys team took six of the top eight places led by defending champion Keeghan Hurley. The girls placed five in the top nine spots led by runner-up Brynnan Covington and Lizzie Fudge in third place.
“We actually use this race as kind of a tempo run,” Hurley said. “We start out slow and try to close as hard as we can.”
Basically, Wadena has become such a shoe-in for both teams that the runners use it as a strategic race to work on pace and tactics.
“(We) focused on pack running today, taking it out easy and focusing on tightening up our pack especially in the five to seven spots,” Head Coach Jeff Morris said.
Like last season, Hurley owned the Wadena race challenged only by Park Rapids’ Isaac Overmyer.
“I want to try to go undefeated this year,” Hurley said.
Overmyer was 10th at the state meet last year to Hurley’s fifth place finish. Overmyer hung tight behind Hurley but the Perham senior slowly pulled away finishing all alone and lapping a few of the other younger runners at the finish line.
Hurley’s winning time was 16:20. Overmyer’s runner-up clip was 16:41. From third through eighth place, only Derek Warner of Long Prairie (5th-17:35) broke up a string of Yellowjacket finishers. Warner was a 40th place finisher at the 2012 Class A state meet.
Jayden Cullen finished third at Wadena in 17:08, followed by Ben Sullivan in fourth-17:12, Billy Beseman (17:45), Chris Knutson (18:07) and Kanyon Edvall (18:13) placed sixth through ninth. Jacob Dickerson was 17th in a time of 18:48 to put Perham’s top seven all in the top 20.
“We knew, today, there were a couple teams that had some people,” Sullivan said. “It’s a threat, but it’s exciting to see what we have to look forward to. It’ll be interesting to see how fast we go at Little Falls.”
Little Falls is on tap for next week where a number of talented 2A schools will be running including Hopkins, ranked in the top five.
On the girls side, Covington battled Bagley/Fosston’s Marissa Carlson the entire race before Carlson made a move down the backstretch and kicked for the victory.
“We were on and off,” Covington said.
As a sophomore, Carlson finished 97th at last year’s state meet. Covington placed 40th as a freshman showcasing a duel that has another year to develop between the two runners.
Covington was the Perham girls’ top finisher last week at Moorhead but struggled to the line. She looked much more calm and in control at Wadena.
“Last week my arms were pretty bad and this week I fixed them a little,” said Covington.
Carlson won the 4K race in 16 minutes; Covington finished in 16:13. Perham’s Lizzie Fudge kicked strong to the finish line in third place with a time of 16:29.
Megan Olson of Park Rapids (17:00), Alyssa Peterson of United North Central (17:02) and Park Rapids’ Lydia Kantonen (17:03) all finished in a bunch for third through fifth places.
Sydney Karels, Mary Riestenberg and Racole Karels finished in a three-pack of Yellowjackets for seventh through ninth places with respective times of 17:09, 17:37 and 17:44. Emma Sweere and Kayla Hodgden placed 23rd and 24th to round out the Perham girls’ team. Sweere ran 18:46, Hodgden 18:54.
“Our girls are really starting to believe they can compete at the front of any race,” Morris said. “We have some big work to do from here and are focused on getting that work in.”
The boys ran away from Long Prairie-Grey Eagle in the team standings scoring a meet low of 21 to 82 from the runner-ups. The girls had plenty of cushion scoring 24 points to 45 from second place Park Rapids.
In the junior varsity race, the boys team demolished the competition scoring 15 points to 95 from Ottertail Central, their closest competitors.
Tanner Monson and Hunter Salathe both ran 19:10 for the top two spots. Leighton Covington, Hunter Kjelshus, Nick Listrom and Nathan Coleman placed third through sixth for a sweep of Yellowjackets. Tyler Ranstad of OTC broke the string of Perham finishes, but Adam Siira, Tyler Fudge and Chase Leitz picked right back up and took eighth, ninth and 10th place respectively.
Jenna Wegscheid won the girls’ JV race keeping Perham atop all top four races on the day. Both JV teams finished with perfect scores of 15.
Familiar last names and looks to the future for Perham appeared atop the junior high race standings. Carson Speicher ran away with the 3K in a time of 12:19. Caitlin Covington won the girls’ race in 13:33 completing the Perham sweep of every race run on Tuesday.
The boys junior high team won a tiebreaker with OTC after the teams tied with scores of 32 after five runners. To determine a winner, the sixth team member’s time is added to the score. Aaron Solberg beat OTC’s Andrew Young by one place and 12 seconds to give Perham the win.
Boys Varsity Team Scores
1 Perham 21
2 Long Prairie-Grey Eagle 82
3 Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 84
4 Ottertail Central Bulldog 97
5 Park Rapids 107 6 Staples 177
7 United North Central 189
8 Bagley 214
Girls Varsity Team Scores
1 Perham 24
2 Park Rapids 45
3 United North Central 68
4 Staples 115
5 Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 130
6 Ottertail Central Bulldog 159