The SJA varsity boys won and the varsity girls came in second at the Bucs Invitational held at Blue Earth last week.
The Saints were running in a four team field that included BEA, Fairmont, and Austin Pacelli.
According to Saints Head Coach Kyle Blomgren, this race offered a different format. The teams scores were the total of the top seven times from nine varsity runners. Three heats were set up for each varsity race.
Runners 7-9, Runners 4-6, and Runners 1-3 competed in separate races.
On the boys side, the top seven SJA finishers over the 5,000 meter course had a combined time of 135:38.
The Fairmont girls came in first with a time of 118:22 over the 4,000 meter course. The Saints were close behind with a combined team time 124:33.
Blomgren said, “It was ideal weather for running and the course was in great shape. This is the same course we will see for our section meet. I was pleased with the way our kids attacked the course today.
“Ashley Lahti did an excellent job of taking control of the varsity race in the second loop to gain her first career varsity win.
“She has been consistently dropping her times throughout the season, and we look forward to seeing her mix it up in our tough Section 2A.
“I was also especially impressed with the races that MacKinzee Miest, Lindsey Kulseth, and Tanya Farfan turned in.
“Our girls team has worked very hard this season, and continues to show the improvement we look for as we wind down to the end of our season.”
The boys first place finish was powered by a 1-2 finish by Johnathan Surber and Zuriel Chacon. Richy Soto came in fifth and Tyler Witcraft came in sixth. Michael Hedlund, Jory Peterson and Joe Dominguez were among the other top finishers for the Saints.
The Head Coach said, “John Surber also did a great job of pushing himself in his race despite running most of the race alone. John is coming along nicely and should be a contender for one of the top spots in our section.
“Zuriel Chacon also ran an excellent race and outdistanced a couple of very tough runners from Blue Earth and Fairmont who beat him last week at the conference meet. Our guys will need to try to tighten things up as a team if we want to compete for one of the top spots in the section.”
Page 2 of 2 - The boys JV team continues to impress in winning the JV portion of the race with a point score of 15 to Fairmont’s second place finish of 88.
The JV Saints finished 1-8 out of 37 total runners.
First through eighth came out this way - Eber Vazquez-Vite, Lukas Pierson, Seth Basmoen, Jacob Ziemer, Nelson Cuellar, Johan Martinez, Kilian Wehde and Erik Heitz.
Now the Saints run in the section, which is the first race on the road to state.
Assessing the competition Blomgren says, “I'd have to say that Waseca is the heavy favorite in both the boys and girls races.“
USC and Martin County West will be very close for the 2nd state spot in the girls race. Fairmont and Mankato Loyola/Cleveland could also challenge. If our girls run well, we could be in the top 5-7 teams.
“Waseca is the heavy favorite in the boys race as well, with MCW being a solid second.”
But the cross country coach said MCW wasn’t a lock for second, “Other teams that could challenge for that spot will be our SJA Saints, Mankato Loyola/Cleveland, and St.Peter. Our kids have worked hard this year and progressed nicely.”