PRINCETON — Senior Wayde Hall and the top-ranked Stillwater boys’ cross country team each posted their third consecutive victory while prevailing at Saturday’s Milaca Mega Meet at Stones Throw Golf Course.
Hall posted a winning margin of 20 seconds while crossing the line in 15:25.3. Stillwater teammate Eric Colvin was running second for most of the race until Steven Cotter of Andover surged in front to finish second in 15:45.7 and Colvin held on to third with a time of 15:49.6, just in front of fourth-place Ahmed Bule (15:49.6) of St. Paul Central.
This marked the third straight year Stillwater has won all four races it participated in at Milaca. The Ponies scored 37 points to easily outdistance runner-up Centennial (134) and ninth-ranked Bemidji, which placed third with 137 points.
Stillwater has not had a close race since losing to Wayzata by two points in the season opener and the same is true of Hall, who finished second by just a tenth of a second in that race.
“I thought Wayde ran exceptionally well,” Ponies coach Scott Christensen said. “At (Rochester) Mayo we held him back a little bit so we tried to tear him loose and I thought he ran very well while not really being pushed by anybody.
“He’s having an exceptional year and every day his practicing is solid. He’s becoming a strong leader of this team. He’s become Tom Linner, the Luke Watson, the Jake Watson, he’s become the face of the team and he’s kind of a soft-spoken guy, but carries a big stick once the race starts.”
Eli Krahn finished seventh for the Ponies in a time of 16:06.0 and Sean Bjork followed in 12th with a time of 16:19.8 in his first race in nearly three weeks. Sophomore Bailey Hesse-Withroe completed the scoring in 14th place with a time of 16:35.5 — a performance that helps ease the pain of Stillwater losing junior Tayler Aarness to a stress fracture in his tibia.
“Eli tried some things and got tangled up in running with a couple of guys he shouldn’t have been so he left the meet pretty disappointed, but it’s only his fourth varsity race. I’m not happy when a ninth-grader is disappointed, but you can’t take the lead for a while and then drop to seventh or eighth, that’s a bad way to race.”
Aarness has not run since the Mayo Invite on Sept. 13 and the Ponies are hoping he’ll be available for the state meet.
“Bailey is filling in fine and will continue to fill in fine,” Christensen said. “We don’t need Tayler until state.”
One thing the coach would like to see his team do is finish stronger, something Hall and Hesse-Withroe have been able to do, Christensen suggested.
“We have to be ready for encounters down the line,” Christensen said. “We’re not going to continue to have these 100-point wins and it worries me a little bit that they’re not closing the door. It’s just been a little too easy for them these last few meets and when you’re running for your life it’s a lot different than just running. We’re not hungry over the last couple hundred meters. This is still a big work in progress.”
n Also on Saturday, the Ponies scored 22 points to win the 44-team JV race. Mounds View (68) and Perham (84) followed in second and third place. Stillwater claimed each of the top three finishes, led by Matt Fronczak with a winning time of 17:01.9 and teammates Matt Thomas (17:15.9) and Coco Molloco (17:28.0) in second and third.
Stillwater also won the 10th-grade race with a score of 55, which was 21 points in front of Buffalo (76) in a field of 25 teams. Allen Burbach led the Ponies in sixth place with a time of 17:16.1 while Alex Percival (17:29.1) and Kiki Molloco (17:38.2) finished seventh and eighth.
The Ponies also ran to a victory in the ninth-grade race, holding off runner-up Moorhead 72-74 for the top spot. Tim Koenning (17:31.1), Sam Hanson (17:34.4) and Nick Yokanovich (17:35.3) finished 1-2-3 to pace Stillwater.
1. Stillwater 37; 2. Centennial 134; 3. Bemidji 137; 4. Mounds View 156; 5. Moorhead 161; 6. Maple Grove 217; 7. St. Paul Central 231; 8. Andover 237; 9. Minot 240; 10. Robbinsdale Armstrong 265; 11. River Falls 371; 12. Osseo 372; 13. East Ridge 387; 14. St. Thomas Academy 413; 15. Woodbury 421; 16. Buffalo 431; 17. Prior Lake 435; 18. Sibley 436; 19. North St. Paul 441; 20. Anoka 477; 21. Duluth East 509; 22. Blaine 537; 23. Park 643; 24. Champlin Park 647; 25. Tartan 676; 26. Park Center 718.
1. Wayde Hall (St) 15:25.3; 2. Steven Cotter (And) 15:45.7; 3. Eric Colvin (St) 15:49.6; 4. Ahmed Bule (SPC) 15:51.4; 5. Chris Meados (And) 16:01.5.
1. Wayde Hall 15:25.3; 3. Eric Colvin 15:49.6; 7. Eli Krahn 16:06.0; 12. Sean Bjork 16:19.8; 14. Bailey Hesse-Withroe 16:35.5; 28. Edoardo Tagliaferri 16:51.4; 39. Austin Reed 17:02.7.