STACY — The Stillwater boys’ cross country team removed any drama from the team competition and senior Wayde Hall posted a narrow victory in the battle for top individual honors during Tuesday’s Suburban East Conference Meet at Falcon Ridge Golf Course.
The top-ranked and defending conference, section and state champion Ponies grabbed nine of the 20 all-conference spots available while posting a winning score of 32 points. Stillwater was so dominant that its fifth runner crossed the finish line before runner-up Mounds View’s first runner completed the 5,000-meter race.
“Things didn’t go perfect, but we had some good individual battles,” Ponies coach Scott Christensen said.
This marks the 10th conference title for the Ponies in the past 12 years.
Hall, who is ranked No. 2 in the state coaches poll, finished in 15:15, which was two seconds in front of Cretin-Derham Hall’s Kevin Docherty (15:17), who is ranked third in the state. Hall also defeated Docherty by a narrow margin at a recent race in Alexandria. Eric Colvin was next for the Ponies in third place with a time of 15:30.
“The race up front was fantastic, a side-by-side, door handle-to-door handle race,” Christensen said.
Sean Bjork (16:09) and Bailey Hesse-Withroe (16:13) finished eighth and ninth for the Ponies while freshman Eli Krahn, who has typically been Stillwater’s third runner, followed in 11th with a time of 16:18 to complete the scoring.
“Eli didn’t have a great race, but sometimes — and they don’t want to hear this — sometimes you have to kind of flip your top five around just a little bit just so people aren’t so locked into their spots, Eli was fourth at a mile and sixth at two miles, but he paid the price for trying to butt heads with Colvin, Docherty and Wayde and it was not a hot day, but it was warm. You have to realize that occasionally you’re going to have a race like that, but part of sports is getting floored and picking yourself back up again.”
Matt Fronczak posted another personal best (16:32) while placing 13th to earn all-conference honors in his first year out for cross country. Hall matched his PR on Tuesday while Colvin and Hesse-Withroe also ran their fastest times of the year.
Stillwater’s other all-conference performers included Tayler Aarness (16:36), Edoardo Tagliaferri (16:43) and Matt Thomas (16:47), who finished 15th, 17th and 19th.
The Ponies will compete in the Section 4AA Meet on Wednesday at the University of Minnesota’s Les Bolstad Golf Course.
n Also on Tuesday, the Ponies posted a perfect score of 15 while easily claiming the top spot in the JV race. In fact, Stillwater produced each of the top six finishers, starting with individual medalist Paul Larson at 17:09, a time that would have placed him 30th in the varsity race.
The next five runners to finish for Stillwater included: Austin Reed (17:13), Tim Koenning (17:21), John Huntley (17:21), Chase Johnson (17:22) and Luke Richie (17:26).
Mounds View was the runner-up with 50 points and White Bear Lake third at 73.
The Stillwater program has competed in a total of 20 races this fall at the varsity, JV, sophomore and ninth-grade level and notched victories in 18. The only setbacks were a two-point varsity loss and a 26-point JV loss to Wayzata in the season opener at the Marshfield Columbus Invitational.
“We’ve won every race since,” Christensen said.
1. Stillwater 32; 2. Mounds View 91; 3. White Bear Lake 98; 4. Cretin-Derham Hall 116; 5. Roseville 158; 6. Woodbury 158; 7. Forest Lake 165; 8. East Ridge 185; 9. Hastings 239; 10. Park 279.
1. Wayde Hall (St) 15:15; 2. Kevin Docherty (C-DH) 15:17; 3. Eric Colvin 15:30; 4. Jacob Jankowski (FL) 15:40; 5. Nate Roese (ER) 15:53.
1. Wayde Hall 15:15; 3. Eric Colvin 15:30; 8. Sean Bjork 16:09; 9. Bailey Hesse-Withroe 16:13; 11. Eli Krahn 16:18; 13. Matt Fronczak 16:32; 15. Tayler Aarness 16:36; 17. Edoardo Tagliaferri 16:43; 19. Matt Thomas 16:47; 49. Allen-Michael Burback 17:45.