Boys cross country: Short-handed Ponies win again


CHASKA — The adversity continued for the Stillwater boys’ cross country team on Tuesday, but so did the ability to overcome it as the Ponies ran to a victory at the Chaska Lions Invitational, their third win in five races this fall.

Competing without varsity regulars Tayler Aarness and Edoardo Tagliaferri because of illness and injury, the No. 3-ranked Ponies scored 76 points to hold off fourth-ranked Eden Prairie (104) and fifth-ranked Hutchinson (112) by a comfortable margin in the 22-team field.

Food poisoning knocked Aarness out of the lineup at the last minute Tuesday while Tagliaferri has not run since Milaca on Sept. 21 because of a leg injury. Of course this is all on top of the team’s best runner coming into the season Eli Krahn expected to miss the rest of the season with because of injury.

Bailey Hesse-Withbroe (16:12.4) and Allen-Michael Burback (16:31.9) were solid, but not spectacular, while placing ninth and 14th for the Ponies — who received a nice boost from senior Austin Reed and junior Alex Percival in the third and fourth spots. Both runners have limited varsity experience, but Reed finished 16th in 16:39.6 and Percival was on his heels in 18th place with a time of 16:43.3.

“They had the best races of their careers,” Christensen said of Reed and Percival. “I was very pleased with how they ran. They didn’t run cautiously. They ran aggressively and jumped into the lead pack — not the top 10, but in the top 20 right off the bat — and they raced hard up front in a 170-runner field. To have them do that on a moment’s notice with Tayler in the nurse’s office right when I was leaving the building and having the kids find out about it on the bus, that’s what good teams do is cover for each other.

“Those two jumping to the aid of the team and running their career best races when we needed it the most is just built into the camaraderie that they have built up. Sometimes it takes unfortunate luck to create opportunities for yourself and I can’t say enough about how superbly they ran yesterday. They ran as if they both had lots of varsity experience.”

Sam Hanson completed the scoring in 19th place with a time of 16:45.4. Matt Thomas finished 62nd in 17:28.6 as the Ponies entered just six runners in the varsity race.

“Bailey and Burback continue to have average races,” Christensen said. “They’ve not had a breakthrough race, but it’s about the program and the training, not one or two people, and that was epitomized (Tuesday). This pack running concept is how it all happened and that’s exactly how you want it to play out with your No. 3, 4 and 5 all running with each other like in practice.”

n Stillwater placed four runners in the top nine and a total of six in the top 14 to edge runner-up Edina 34-37 in the 24-team JV race on Tuesday. John Huntley (17:08.6) and Tim Koenning (17:15.7) finished second and third to set the pace for the Ponies while Jonathan Breckheimer (17:24.2) and Chase Johnson (17:26.2) followed in seventh and ninth. Edina, however, featured the top three finishers to clip the Ponies 31-38 in the C race.


Team standings

1. Stillwater 76; 2. Eden Prairie 104; 3. Hutchinson 112; 4. Chanhassen 182; 5. Lakeville North 190; 6. Robbinsdale Armstrong 192; 7. Prior Lake 205; 8. Minnetonka 218; 9. Osseo 227; 10. Chaska 231; 11. Burnsville 236; 12. St. Louis Park 247; 13. Farmington 279; 14. Lakeville South 319; 15. Eagan 401; 16. New Prague 441; 17. Bloomington Kennedy 478; 18. Richfield 488; 19. Bloomington Jefferson 531; 20. Waconia 570; 21. Mankato West 573; 22. Dassel-Cokata 635.

Top 5

1. Isaiah Barlow (Hut) 15:33.6; 2. Justin Hyytinen (Far) 15:56.8; 3. Alec Anderson (Hut) 15:57.7; 4. Jacob Young (EP) 16:00.5; 5. Scott Kvidera (Min) 16:02.9.

Stillwater results

9. Bailey Hesse-Withbroe 16:12.4; 14. Allen-Michael Burback 16:31.9; 16. Austin Reed 16:39.6; 18. Alex Percival 16:43.3; 19. Sam Hanson 16:45.4; 62. Matt Thomas 17:28.6.