Cross-Country: Red Wing hosts homecoming invite
With parking spots only a rumor, the Red Wing cross-country teams hosted two handfuls of teams on a cool, windy Friday afternoon. The races were lined with spectators, some dressed in full winter gear. And Winger fans got what they came for with a dominating effort from the boys, and a spirited run from a girls roster dealing with some late-season injuries.
Weston Wyatt led a 1-2-3 finish for the Red Wing boys, completing the 5k race in 16 minutes, 12.37 seconds. Tom Nemanich (16:13.93) and Bryan Zucker (16:17.33) came in right behind Wyatt.
Hastings and Woodbury captured the fourth and fifth spots before Wingers Tucker Wallin (16:40.75) and Jonah Leise (16:42.99) rounded out the Red Wing score in sixth and seventh, respectively.
"It was a good effort. We've been dealing with a few injuries, so it was good to have all the guys hitting today, especially those first three," said Wingers head coach Jesse Nelson. "It's been a fun year and now we're getting to the races that we've been looking forward to for over a year. Years, actually. We get to run in Alexandria against some really good teams and conference and section meets (are on the horizon)."
Red Wing easily took the team title with 19 points. Second-place Woodbury was a long way back with 72, and third-place East Ridge had 99.
Roseville took the girls' team title with 34 points, ahead of Woodbury (63) and the Wingers (84).
Grace Johnson had an 11th-place run of 20:36.07 to lead Red Wing, while Sammi Chandler was right on Johnson's heels with a 12th-place time of 20:40.56. Tori Leitner (14th, 20:42.13), Ariana Mollgaard (16th, 20:52.45) and Addie Fjetland (34th, 21:59.46) closed out the Wingers scoring.
"Same thing, just dealing with some injuries. So I was really happy with Grace, I thought she put together a really solid race," Nelson said. "Sammi Chandler has been running strong all year and has just been getting stronger and Tori Leitner had one of her best races of the year. And Ari is coming back from some injuries so it was good to see her. And for seventh-grader Addie Fjetland to be our fifth runner, she just keeps getting better."
Adding to a successful day was the number of fans that lined the course. Both the near parking lot by the football field and the Prairie Island Arena lot were packed.
"With homecoming, it was a great atmosphere," Nelson said.
There was definitely a buzz in the crowd, even though the mercury and stiff breeze felt more like late October.
"This is perfect running weather," Nelson said. "I don't think any kid came out here and said it was too cold. Maybe for spectators, but the kids run much better in temperatures like this and it's just much safer for everybody."
Fair. But when told it snowed, just a little, just enough to be called snow, in Bemidji today, and reminded of that Alexandria met coming up, Nelson hesitated only to make the statement seem insignificant.
Laughing, Nelson replied, "We look forward to the crisp, fall air."
On Tuesday, the Red Wing boys easily took first place in New Prague, totaling 22 points to second-place Lakeville South's 52 behind the efforts of five Wingers placing in the top eight individually.
Tucker Wallin paced a Red Wing group that finished second through fifth with a time of 16 minutes, 38.4 seconds. Jonah Leise (16:45.0), Weston Wyatt (16:54.2) and Bryan Zucker (17:07.0) all came in right behind Wallin. Skyler Bennyhoff came in eighth with a time of 17:32.6. Hugo Ruiz of Tri-City United won the 5k race in 17:37.6, less than a second ahead of Wallin.
The Winger girls placed third with 49 points, behind first-place Lakeville South (31) and New Prague (48).
Sammi Chandler (20:44.4) and Tori Leitner (20:51.3) came in seventh and eighth, respectively, while Grace Dube (20:57.0) and Ariana Mollgaard (21:04.8) were 10th and 11th. Grace Johnson was 13th in 21:09.8. Lakeville South's Brianne Brewster won with a time of 18:41.9, and was the only runner to break 20 minutes.