Boys cross country: Hall, Ponies prevail at Meet of Champions

Contributed photos
Members of the Stillwater boys’ cross country team that won Saturday’s Alexandria Meet of Champions at Arrowwood Resort include, from left, Matt Fronczak, Tayler Aarness, Bailey Hesse-Withroe, Eli Krahn, Wayde Hall, Sean Bjork and Eric Colvin.

ALEXANDRIA — It was business as usual for the Stillwater boys’ cross country team on Saturday as the No. 1-ranked Ponies reeled off another dominating victory at the Alexandria Meet of Champions at Arrowwood Resort.

Stillwater placed three runners in the top five and five in the top 11 to score 28 points and easily outdistance runner-up St. Cloud Cathedral (111), which is ranked second in Class A, and the rest of the 22-team field.

“We’re pretty pleased,” Ponies coach Scott Christensen said. “We scored (52) points last year and 28 points this year. It was a very good meet for us top to bottom.”

Stillwater senior Wayde Hall, left, battles Kevin Docherty of Cretin-Derham Hall for the lead during Saturday’s Meet of Champions in Alexandria. Hall clipped Docherty by one second to win the race in a time of 15:30.7.

It was the fifth straight victory this season for the Ponies, who are also ranked No. 8 in the country by MileSplit.com.

The battle for individual honors was much tighter as Wayde Hall, who was No. 2 in the individual state rankings, overtook top-ranked Kevin Docherty of Cretin-Derham Hall down the stretch to win his fourth title in six races this fall. Hall crossed the line in 15:30.7, which was one second in front of Docherty (15:31.7) while Joey Duerr of Chaska was third at 15:42.2.

Stillwater’s Eric Colvin (15:57.4) and Eli Krahn (16:01.0) followed in fourth and fifth.

“That was a very good duel up front and they were shoulder to shoulder,” Christensen said. “That’s why people watch NASCAR and it’s the most exciting thing you can see in cross country.”

Docherty began to pull away with about 800 meters remaining, but Hall charged back with a 400 meters to go and slipped in front near the finish line.

Sean Bjork added a seventh-place finish for the Ponies in a time of 16:10.6 and Bailey Hesse-Withroe completed the scoring in 11th with a time of 16:29.7.

Tayler Aarness competed for the first time since the Mayo Invitational on Sept. 13 and finished 16th with a time of 16:41.9. He has been sidelined in recent weeks with a stress fracture.

“He ran as hard as he could,” Christensen said.

Matt Fronczak, meanwhile, continued an impressive senior campaign while bettering his personal record for the sixth time in as many races this fall — seven if you count Stillwater’s twi-light meet. He finished 17th on Saturday with a time of 16:42.3.

“It was another personal improvement for Matt Fronczak,” Christensen said. “When you think we graduated three kids off our varsity (Tom Linner, Matt Chu and Ethan Anderson), they’re being replaced by a ninth-grader who’s never run varsity (Krahn), a sophomore who’s never run varsity (Hesse-Withroe) and a senior who’s never been out for cross country before (Fronczak).

“(Fronczak) at the twi-light asked what it takes to make varsity. I’m looking at his 18:45 at twi-light, plus he’s never run before in his life, and sort of laughing inside and said 16:45. I’ve not seen anything like it. It’s not the way things generally happen. He is not the most talented guy on this team, but he has that day-to-day practice and meet grittiness.”

n Also on Saturday, Stillwater scored 18 points to outdistance runner-up White Bear Lake (76) in the JV race. Matt Thomas (16:56.5), Allen Burbach (17:00.6) and Edoardo Tagliaferri (17:01.6) finished 1-2-3 while teammates Paul Larson (17:14.5) and Austin Reed (17:20.9) followed in fifth and seventh. Alex Percival wasn’t far behind in ninth place with a time of 17:27.3.

The Ponies also won the C race while scoring 32 points, led by Tim Koenning (10:53.9), Nick Yokanovich (10:55.3) and Sam Hanson (10:55.4) finishing third through fifth.

 

Team standings

1. Stillwater 28; 2. St. Cloud Cathedral 111; 3. Bemidji 136; 4. White Bear Lake 144; 5. Chanhassen 206; 6. Buffalo 220; 7. Mounds View 227; 8. Chaska 237; 9. Sartell-St. Stephen 250; 10. Alexandria 294; 11. New Prague 297; 12. St. Thomas Academy 308; 13. Cretin-Derham Hall 308; 14. Roseville 335; 15. Red Wing 336; 16. Rocori 357; 17. Marshall 365; 18. Staples-Motley 526; 19. Thief River Falls 559; 20. Park Center 600; 21. Windom Area 648; 22. St. Cloud Apollo 683.

Top 5

1. Wayde Hall (St) 15:30.7; 2. Kevin Docherty (C-DH) 15:31.7; 3. Joey Duerr (Ch) 15:42.2; 4. Eric Colvin (St) 15:57.4; 5. Eli Krahn (St) 16:01.0.

Stillwater results

1. Wayde Hall 15:30.7; 4. Eric Colvin 15:57.4; 5. Eli Krahn 16:01.0; 7. Sean Bjork 16:10.6; 11. Bailey Hesse-Withroe 16:29.7; 16. Tayler Aarness 16:41.9; 17. Matt Fronczak 16:42.3.

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