ROCHESTER — The Stillwater boys’ cross country team collected its second straight victory on Thursday while easily outdistancing Owatonna at the Rochester Mayo Invitational at Eastwood Golf Club.
Even with one of its top runners Sean Bjork held out of the race, the Ponies scored 27 points to win this event for the fourth year in a row — leaving seventh-ranked Owatonna as the runner-up each of the past three, although the Huskies were the last team to beat Stillwater at this event when they won via tie-breaker in 2008.
Wayde Hall posted a winning time of 15:52.7 to lead a parade of five Ponies in the top 10. Zack Benning of Hastings was the runner-up in a time of 16:09.7.
“It rained the day before so it was kind of a relatively slow day,” Ponies coach Scott Christensen said. “Nothing slows a cross country race down more than a soggy course. The guys worked pretty hard for the times they achieved.”
Eric Colvin placed third for the Ponies at 16:12.9 while Eli Krahn followed in fifth with a time of 16:17.8. Tayler Aarness returned to the varsity lineup and delivered an eighth-place showing in 16:42.4 and Bailey Hesse-Withroe completed the scoring in 10th place with a time of 16:44.0.
Aarness had not run particularly well earlier this season, but Christensen was not entirely surprised by his solid race on Thursday based on what he’s seen in workouts the past two weeks.
“He ran great and I’m really happy with his practicing the last few weeks,” the coach said. “He’s been the Tayler Aarness of old, he’s leading groups and running alongside Eli, things he hasn’t done since Nike Nationals last year, to be truthful.”
Christensen held Bjork out of the race and that’s something he plans to do throughout the season with his regular varsity performers.
“You will not see our top 10 together until the conference meet,” the coach said. “I’m going to rest guys and I think Sean benefits from rest. I think if you’re going to race into December you can’t keep running kids, especially when you don’t need them.”
n Stillwater completed the sweep on Thursday with victories in the JV and C races. Led by Austin Reed (17:28.3) and Matt Fronczak (17:29.5) with a 1-2 finish, the Ponies scored 21 points and placed all seven runners in the top 10 to outlast Owatonna (39) for first place in the 18-team JV race.
“Reed had a really nice race,” Christensen said.
In the C race, Stillwater posted a perfect score of 15 for the second meet in a row to finish well in front of runner-up Rochester Century (72). In fact, the top seven finishers were all Stillwater runners, including: Tim Koenning (18:03.9), Sam Hanson (18:14.2), Nick Yokanovich (18:33.3), David Felsch (18:44.6), Brennan Roby (19:00.5), Jonathon Breckheimer (19:08.4) and Arthur Seeb (19:11.5).
1. Stillwater 27; 2. Owatonna 101; 3. Rochester Century 101; 4. Eastview 146; 5. Red Wing 197; 6. Winona Cotter 205; 7. Winona 217; 8. Rochester Mayo 223; 9. Plainview-Elgin-Millville 240; 10. Albert Lea 259; 11. Northfield/Artech 264; 12. Hastings 315; 13. Austin 317; 14. Rochester John Marshall 322; 15. Rochester Lourdes 389; 16. La Crescent 448; 17. Dover-Eyota 498; 18. Pine Island 523; 19. Zumbrota-Mazeppa/Kenyon-Wanamingo 530; 20. Cannon Falls 564; Schaeffer Academy, inc.
1. Wayde Hall (St) 15:52.7; 2. Zack Benning (Has) 16:09.7; 3. Eric Colvin (St) 16:12.9; 4. Hunter Bailey (Win) 16:14.6; 5. Eli Krahn (St) 16:17.8.
1. Wayde Hall 15:52.7; 3. Eric Colvin 16:12.9; 5. Eli Krahn 16:17.8; 8. Tayler Aarness 16:42.4; 10. Bailey Hesse-Withroe 16:44.0; 18. Edoardo Tagliaferri 17:06.1; 37. Matt Thomas 17:34.0.