Boys cross country: Wayzata runs away from Ponies

Stillwater sophomore Eli Krahn holds off Andrew Quirk of Wayzata to finish sixth in Saturday’s Marshfield Columbus Invitational at Wildwood Park. (Contributed photo by Jacqulin Tagliaferri)
Stillwater sophomore Eli Krahn holds off Andrew Quirk of Wayzata to finish sixth in Saturday’s Marshfield Columbus Invitational at Wildwood Park. (Contributed photo by Jacqulin Tagliaferri)

MARSHFIELD, Wis. — After slipping past Stillwater by a single point to win the Marshfield Columbus Invitational a year ago, Wayzata dominated the competition while defending its title on Saturday at Wildwood Park.

The Trojans featured four of the top five finishers while scoring 19 points to easily outdistance two-time defending state champion Stillwater, which followed in second at 58. Chequamegon placed third with 120 points.

Wayzata placed third at state a year ago but entered the season ranked No. 1 in the state coaches poll. Based on Saturday’s performance, it should have been No. 1 with a bullet.

“It was quite a blow,” Ponies coach Scott Christensen said. “In football terms, it was 45-0, but that’s sports and that’s what happens. We have to regroup.”

Wayzata junior Connor Olson broke his own meet record while completing the firm and mostly flat 5,000-meter course in 15:22.7, more than 36 seconds in front of teammate and runner-up Ian Elkin (15:58.8).

The Trojans weren’t through as Jaret Carpenter and Aaron Breyer finished fourth and fifth to give Wayzata four runners in front of Stillwater’s top finisher Eli Krahn, who crossed the line in sixth place with a time of 16:26.0.

“I’m disappointed, but it wasn’t unexpected,” Christensen said. “We’ve got a lot of inexperience with our varsity and what you do at the track at the twi-light meet or in time trials and Stillwater roadways doesn’t always translate to performances against real teams, especially when it’s a team as talented as Wayzata.”

Wayzata pushed all five of its scorers across before Tayler Aarness finished as Stillwater’s No. 2 in a time of 16:32.3. Bailey Hesse-Withbroe followed in 11th with a time of 16:41.7 while Allen-Michael Burback (17:05.9) and Austin Reed (17:08.4) placed 16th and 17th to complete the scoring.

“It was wham, bam, over — seven minutes into the race it was over,” Christensen said. “The crazy part is that we’re still probably the second best team in the state, but it was 45-0.

“They never ran for each other and formed a pack. They started together and somewhat finished together, but during the race they weren’t together at all. Last year we could stretch things out a little bit because we had so much talent up front, but this year we have to do it by pack running”

Sam Hanson finished 19th for Stillwater in 17:16.2 while Matt Thomas (17:48.6) and Alex Percival (18:15.5) finished 24th and 33rd as teams were allowed to enter eight runners.

“We have to make some changes and the team has to buy into it,” Christensen said. “We’ll see if what we do at practice can be replicated in meets against good teams.”

The Ponies bounced back from last year’s season-opening setback to finish 46 points in front of Wayzata at the state meet, but that was with a senior-led lineup. This year’s team carries much less varsity seasoning, but is not without potential, the coach suggested.

“We had such a great workout again on Monday,” Christensen said. “It’s a workout we’ve done, or at least very similar, to the last few Labor Days with my good teams and the team appears to be as good as any I’ve coached, but they didn’t race that way on Saturday and it was pretty disappointing. They don’t have to elevate their game, they just have to bring it elsewhere. We’ll need a couple more races to find out if they’re contenders or pretenders.”

n Wayzata also dominated the JV race on Saturday while missing out on a perfect score by just one point. The Trojans posted a winning score of 16 while Stillwater followed with 41 points. Whitefish Bay was a distant third at 95. John Huntley (17:30.7) placed fifth to lead the Ponies with a fifth-place finish while teammates Tim Koenning (17:32.9), Jonathon Breckheimer (17:46.1) and Chase Johnson (17:50.4) followed in seventh through ninth.


Team standings

1. Wayzata 19; 2. Stillwater 58; 3. Chequamegon 120; 4. Whitefish Bay 142; 5. McDonell 172; 6. Roncalli 189; 7. Nekoosa 192; 8. Marshfield 222; 9. Benilde-St. Margaret’s 237; 10. Bonduel 241; 11. Blair-Taylor 290; 12. Marshfield Columbus 301; 13. Edgar 380; Alma Center Lincoln, Owen-Withee and Austin Pacelli, inc.

Top 5

1. Connor Olson (Way) 15:22.7; 2. Ian Eklin (Way) 15:58.8; 3. Nick Zander (McD) 16:15.4; 4. Jaret Carpenter (Way) 16:17.5; 5. Aaron Breyer (Way) 16:18.3.

Stillwater results

6. Eli Krahn 16:26.0; 8. Tayler Aarness 16:32.3; 11. Bailey Hesse-Withbroe 16:41.7; 16. Allen-Michael Burback 17:05.9; 17. Austin Reed 17:08.4; 19. Sam Hanson 17:16.2; 24. Matt Thomas 17:48.6; 33. Alex Percival 18:15.5.


Contact Stuart Groskreutz at [email protected]