The Saints cross country team competed in the Gerry Smith Invitational on a warm Thursday afternoon at the Montgomery National Golf Club at Montgomery, MN.
The annual event draws schools from across southern and central Minnesota. A total of 27 boys teams and 22 girls teams competed in the event at the varsity level. There was also a large number of Jr. High and JV athletes competing, so the course was full of kids.
On the boys side, the Saints finished 19 out of 27 teams. Tyler Witcraft finished first for the St. James harriers and 47th overall with a time of 19:23.7. A total of 173 boys competed at the varsity level.
Freshman Eber Vazquez-Vite finished second for the Saints and 88th overall with a time 20:12.2.
The third and fourth place finishers for team SJA were juniors Thor Henderson and Jory Peterson. They also finished 125th and 126th in the overall standings. Henderson ran 21:29.1 and Peterson was a step behind as he finished in 21:29.2. Connor Engel was the fifth place finisher for the Saints.
The varsity girls run had 22 teams entered with 163 runners competing. The Saints finished 18th as a team.
Junior Ashley Lahti finished first for the Saints team and 24th overall with a time of 17:27.8. Eighth grader MacKinzee Miest came in second for the Saints and 30th overall with a time of 17:38.9.
Three more juniors finished in the next three slots for St. James Area, as Lindsey Kulseth, Ashley Cuellar and Glenda Hector finished three, four, five for the Saints team respectively.
Lucas Pierson had an outstanding showing in the junior high boys competition finishing in third place out of 178 runners competing. Pierson’s time over a one mile course was 7:17.9.
Sadie Goossen was the top junior high finisher for the Saints girls. She came in 20th out of 138 runners with a time of 9:14.7 over the one mile course.
In JV competition, the Saints Aaron Askeland finished 56th out of 233 boy runners. Michelle Montelongo was the top finisher for the Saints girls. She finished 87th out of 175 JV runners.
Cross Country Head Coach Brad Stark added, “The meet at Montgomery is run on a beautiful golf course. There were about 29 teams present, with many tough AA schools participating.
“The heat and humidity at the meet led to times being slower than in previous years for most of the participants.
“The boys varsity was led by Tyler Witcraft, followed by Eber Vazquez-Vite, Thor Henderson, Jory Petersen, and Connor Engel. Thor Henderson competed very well as this represented his first time ever running on the varsity.
“The girls varsity was led by Ashley Lahti and MacKinzee Miest. Lahti and Miest ran well together and finished 24th and 30th respectively out of a field of 163.
Page 2 of 2 - “Lukas Pierson took 3rd out of 178 runners at the junior high level, while Trey Witcraft, Noah Wolle, Ethan Sykes, Dalton Wolle, and Parker Henderson continued to show improvement each meet.
“For the junior high girls, Sadie Goossen took 20th and Lupita Moriel took 31st to lead the Jr High effort. They were followed by Chantel Henderson and Jennifer Gonzales who have been getting better every meet due to their hard work during practice.”