For the seventh time in eight seasons the Redwood Valley boys cross country team is headed to the Class A state meet.
The Cardinals made it three straight Section 3A titles by rolling to an easy 44-66 victory over Luverne Friday afternoon in Adrian despite not having the services of senior Dillon Thooft.
A strong effort at the top proved crucial, as Alex Amunrud (16:53), Ryan Phillips (16:58) and Nick VonMosch (17:27) finished second, third and fifth respectively to put the Cardinals in control.
“You enter the year with expectations based on what happened last year, and I feel extremely grateful that more often than not my expectations have come through,” Coach Shawn Cilek said. “The guys really have done a great job all season long.”
Wes Peyerl (18:06) and Juan Hernandez (18:10) were 16th and 18th respectively to account for the Cardinal’s top five.
Brett Olsen (18:29) was 25th, and Josiah Passe (18:45) 33rd as the Cardinals head into the state meet Saturday in Northfield with a top eight finish on their minds.
The Cardinals one-two punch of Amunrud and Phillips have given the boys consistency at the top – along with VonMosch and Thooft as the Cards balance has separated them from most teams.
“It reminds me of back when we used to have Justin (Peters) and Anthony (Bongard),” Cilek said. “They’ve got a great relationship, and I think they bring a calming influence on the other guys.”
The key at state may be the health of Thooft who was kept out of the Section 3A Meet in an effort to get him ready for state.
“We started running Dillon at the Section meet and had him in the pool before that,” Cilek said, “He’s kind of the heartbeat of the team, so to have him get hurt like that was tough. He’ll be ready to go come Saturday.”
The Cardinals moved up from ninth to sixth in the post-Section polls, and Cilek is optimistic about the Cards chances after finishing eighth a year ago. Perham, St. Cloud Cathedral and Minnehaha Academy are the three favorites.
The boys race begins at 10 a.m. at St. Olaf College followed by the girls race at 11 a.m.
Section 3A Boys Team Results - Redwood Valley 44, Luverne 66, Montevideo 74, Canby/Minneota/LHI 98, Mt. Lake Area 223, LQPV 237, Pipestone Area 250, S/CM/C 266, YME 266, Windom Area 266, TMB 270, MACCRAY 278, BOLD 312, JCC 323, six inc.
Breaking her personal best by 12 seconds, Redwood Valley sophomore Kayla Huhnerkoch held off Luverne’s Madison Schandelmeier by three seconds to capture the Section 3A Girls Individual title Friday afternoon in Adrian.
After battling illness and settling for third at the SWC meet in Redwood Falls, Huhnerkoch was back to her old self Friday afternoon, running a 14:53 to better last season’s state qualifying time of 15:18 by 25 seconds.
Teammates Nicole Bunting (16:11) and Mary Fixsen (16:12) finished just out of a state tournament berth in 17th and 18th respectively (the top 15 advance), as the Cardinal girls finished in sixth place out of 21 teams with 141 team points.
“I was really pleased with the girls finish in what has to be one of the toughest Sections in the state,” Cilek said. “We had a great group of seniors come through, and we’re definitely going to miss them.”
Canby/Minneota/Lincoln HI ended Adrian’s run of team titles with a 77-83 victory over the Dragons.
Luverne was third with 91, LQPV fourth at 92 and Mountain Lake Area fifth at 103 in what proved to be a very competitive girls race.
Kendra Goblirsch (17:45) was 56th, Darion Miller-Ahrens (17:55) broke her personal best by one second to place 59th, Tessa Heiling (17:56) was 60th and Megan Riley (18:05) finished in 62nd.
Huhnerkoch now moves on and looks to better her 34th place finish from one year ago.
The state tournament veteran has been ranked in the top 15 in the Class A rankings this fall and looks to stay amongst the top 10.
“If you look at the season Kayla has been able to see many of the top 15 girls and has been right there with them,” Cilek said. “She’s a competitor and has a great shot to earn All-State honors or even make the medal stand.”
Section 3A Girls Team Results - Canby/Minneota/Lincoln HI 77, Adrian 83, Luverne 91, LQPV 92, Mt. Lake Area 103, Redwood Valley 141, Montevideo 149, MCC 232, SW United 259, Pipestone Area 278, TMB 284, Windom Area 299, YME 377, MACCRAY 406, seven inc.