Rockford runners earn All-Conference honors

Rockford cross country coach Jason Hester was not happy about the fifth place earned by the boys at last week’s Central Minnesota Conference meet, but he was excited about the effort.

Rockford placed fifth, but was just five points out of third in the meet conducted at Pierz.

Brannon Winters runs for the Rockford varsity cross country team. (Photo by Bill Nord)
Brannon Winters runs for the Rockford varsity cross country team. (Photo by Bill Nord)

Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted won the boys event, followed by Holdingford, Maple Lake, Royalton and Rockford in the field of eight teams.

“The boys ran well,” proclaimed Hester. “Several runners ran their personal best times. Knowing that we have all the runners coming back next year makes me hopeful for a better finish.”

Varsity newcomer Ty Griffin produced his personal record (PR) time when finishing eighth overall to earn All-Conference honors.

The junior adds to his medal list after winning a state wrestling title last year as a sophomore and becoming one of the top Rocket golfers.

Nick Klonne made the All-Conference second team with his 13th place finish. So did Austin Witthuhn, who finished 15th. Drew Hafften (18) was close behind with a personal best time.

The varsity included Nico VanDanacker (31 in PR), Brannon Winters (32 in PR) and Austin Achtelik (40).

“Ty ran exceptionally well as he broke the 18-minute barrier for the first time,” adds the coach.

In the Junior Varsity race, McCormick Deering finished sixth and Nathan Schumacher took seventh.

The Rocket girls had four of the six varsity runners complete the race. Lydia Buffie and Sarah Evans did not feel well before the race and could not finish.

Team leaders were Elizabeth Nelson (25 in PR), Emily Pothast (35), Anya Cady (36 in PR) and Morgan Aubel (38 in PR).

“The girls ran well considering it was the first varsity race for Nelson, Cady and Aubel,” said the coach.

The Section 5A meet is Thursday, Oct. 25 at Pierz, the site of the conference meet. Hester is hopeful of a team top 10 finish for the boys out of about 25 teams.

“Both Nick and Ty have the capability to do drop their times, but the cool damp weather forecast may make that more difficult,” said Hester.