Cross country squads tune up for post-season events

Drew Haften runs for the Rockford varsity cross country team that heads to the conference meet Tuesday in Pierz. (Photo by Bill Nord)
Drew Haften runs for the Rockford varsity cross country team that heads to the conference meet Tuesday in Pierz. (Photo by Bill Nord)


Rockford and Delano cross country teams have been training and gearing up for the post-season events where both schools are confident they will land some high places.

The Wright County Conference meet runs Thursday, Oct. 10 at Cokato. Delano’s boys will be one of the favorites to win the team title and Adam Armbruster has proven to be one of the top male runners.

Rockford will enter the Central Minnesota Conference meet Tuesday, Oct. 15 in Pierz. The Rocket boys could be in the running for the team title.

“We have been running well despite the fact that we have been working hard towards conference and the kids were weary from the workouts,” said Rockford coach Jason Hester, pointing to the performance of the boys at the recent Howard Lake Invitational.

Rockford placed third in the boys race, led by Nick Konne (5), Ty Griffen (6), Austin Witthun (7), Brannon Winters (14), Drew Haften (16) and Nico VanDanacker (19). Joe Pothast was second in the junior varsity race.

Many of the young and inexperienced Rocket girl runners have competed in the junior varsity races. At Howard Lake, Liz Nelson was the lone varsity runner and finished 15th. Erin Hopkins, a seventh-grader, captured the title in the JV division, followed by Anya Cady (6) and Emme Hawly (8).

Delano’s boys claimed the crown at last week’s Litchfield Invitational, topping the field of 13 teams. Armbruster also landed on top of a big race for the fifth time this season. He also has earned a second, third and fifth place finish.

At Litchfield, Delano placed the top four scorers in the top six. Next came Sam Thomas (4), Tucker Sjomeling (5), Daniel Clark (6), Logan Rieder (31), Matt Ditty (33) and Ben Rietow (46).

“The tough workouts of the past week paid off,” notes Tiger coach Borak Wiesner. “Adam wins again with his second best time. Our top four looked good as usual. Ben Rietow went over a minute faster than ever. We needed this day. We had to re-focus. Days like this make it apparent that hard work and dedication do pay off.”

Wiesner said his varsity girls had a “fabulous day” with seven of the 11 running a personal best time. Naomi Eskola, a seventh-grader, broke 17:00 for the first time. The JV girls all ran personal best times.

The varsity placed seventh out of 12 teams. Leaders were Eskola (20), Linsey Tolkkinen (27), Lauren Degn (48), Shanie Streachek (60), Hanna Olstad (61), Madeline Sladek (62) and Ellen Armbruster (63).

In the meet prior, Delano competed in the 13-team Buffalo Invitational. The boys placed fourth behind fellow section favorites Buffalo (1) and Hutchinson (3).

“At the end of the meet I was a little let down, as I felt boys could be second,” recalls Wiesner. “However, when I looked closely at the scores, we were only 13 measly points out of winning the whole thing. We are starting to look at having some depth, which will stand us in good stead as the season progresses.”

Armbruster finished third, a place up from last year. Next came Thomas (13), Clark (14), Sjomeling (16), Ditty (53), Rieder (55) and Rietow (71).

The Tiger girls finished 13th while missing of one of the top three runners. Eskola (40) was followed by Tolkinnen (42), Streachek (79), Degn (82, Sladek (84) and Armbruster (92).