BY DAVE PEDERSEN
Both Rockford and Delano cruised to victory at different cross country invitational races last week.
Delano won the boys division at the 10-team Waconia invite and Rockford topped the field on the boys side of the five-team Eden Valley-Watkins/Kimball invite.
It was the fourth straight invitational victory for the Tiger boys after also winning meets in Rockford, Delano and Norwood-Young America. At Waconia, five of the seven varsity runners posted personal best times.
“Adam Armbruster was second to a Hastings runner who placed 11th at last year’s state meet,” said coach Borak Wiesner. “So now, Adam has a feel for what kind of pace will put him in the top 10 at state. The guys had a fabulous day.”
Wiesner said ninth-grader Tucker Sjomeling had a great first half to spark the team into peak performances. Dan Clark was fourth, Sam Thomas fifth and Sjomeling sixth. The varsity included newcomer Logan Rieder (18), Matt Ditty (25), who was two minutes faster than last year, and Cole Paskach (47) ran his best varsity race.
Delano’s girls ran without three of the usual top seven, but came through to take sixth overall at Waconia. The top runner was rookie Linsey Tolkinnen (24), who had her best race.
Next came Naomi Eskola (38), Lauren Degn (39), Maddie Sladek (41), Olivia Jacobs (44), Hanna Olstad (46) and Ellen Armbruster (48).
Rockford’s boys finished first at the Eden Valley-Watkins/Kimball meet, placing three in the top five.
Nick Klonne took third, followed by Austin Witthun in fourth and Ty Griffin fifth. The varsity included Drew Haften (14), Brannon Winters (16), Joe Pothast (21) and Nick VanDanacker (25).
“We have been picking up the intensity with our workouts and we are seeing some results,” says coach Jason Hester. “We are not where we want to be yet, but are getting there.”
The Rocket girls also continue to improve. The biggest surprise at the invite was seventh-grader Erin Hopkins, who was moved from the middle school to junior varsity race and captured second place.
Both Delano and Rockford entered the Milaca Mega Meet Saturday and did well. Klonne was the top finisher (32) for Rockford in the Class AA event where the team placed 12 out of 18 teams. The course will be the site of Rockford’s section meet.
Delano finished fourth out of 18 teams in Class 3A, only 16 points out of second. Wiesner said a highlight was Ditty (50) finishing six places ahead of his goal.
“Sjomeling’s blistering first mile sets the tone for the guys in the top four so that Sam and Dan have a target to shoot for,” adds Wiesner. “When they catch him, we do well as a team. We can see that there is a good chance to get to the state meet.”
Leading the way at Milaca was Armbruster in fifth overall, trailed by Sjomeling (20), Thomas (23), Clark (24), Ditty (50), Rieder (69) and Paskach (99). League and section rival Hutchinson won the Class 3A race with the top two finishers.
The Tiger girls placed 15th out of 20 teams. Leaders were Tolkinnen (59), Emily Hartman (74), Eskola (78), Shanie Streachek (84) and Degn (85). Rockford did not enter the varsity race.
Delano runs at the Buffalo Invitational Thursday, Sept. 26, while Rockford is at the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted invite the same day.