By Adam James
The Mound Westonka White Hawks cross country team followed up its season opener in Maple Lake with a run in the Gerry Smith Invitational cross country meet at the Montgomery National Golf Club on Sept. 5. The event featured over 1,000 runners, representing junior high boys and girls, JV boys and girls, and varsity boys and girls. The White Hawks brought five teams to the meet and had individual representation in all of them.
Both varsity races proved to be extremely competitive, with the varsity girls finishing 12th out of 21 teams and the varsity boys finishing ninth out of 26 teams. In the girls’ event, ninth-grader Laura Sunnarborg led Westonka with an impressive ninth-place finish out of 156 runners. She set the White Hawks’ pace with a time of 19:58.6 across the 5K track. Senior Kate McGown and sophomore Allison Soule were neck-and-neck with finishes of 62nd and 64th, respectively (23:07.2; 23:18.5). Ninth-grader Emily Wendorf (77th; 23:53.1) and senior Sarah Malchow (94th; 24:56.0) rounded out the scoring for the varsity girls.
The varsity boys also had a Top-10 finisher in the 26-team, 184-runner race. Senior Alec Van Gelder finished 10th in 17:09.7. Not far behind him was sophomore Lance Nemecek, who finished 29th in 17:43.9. Sophomore Beckett James (61st; 18:40.9), junior Charlie Herder (76th; 19:04.8) and junior Cole Garlack (90th; 19:27.5) completed the scoring for the White Hawks.
The largest race of the day belonged to the JV boys event, which had over 260 runners. Mound Westonka finished sixth out of 18 teams. Junior Kyle Sorrentino led the JV runners with a ninth-place finish overall in a time of 19:25.9. Sophomore Josh Essinger finished 27th with a time of 20:14.3. Other White Hawks runners included junior Roman Fenzl (40th; 21:05.4), senior Robby Brustad (47th; 21:37.4) and sophomore Max Epsky (48th; 21:47.7).
In the junior high boys race, eighth-grader Miles Dumbauld set the pace for the White Hawks, finishing 12th of 185 runners with a time of 9:38.2 in the 2.5K race. Eighth-graders Jack Markstrom (9:40.8) and Charlie Paul (9:41.7) finished closely behind in 13th and 15th place, respectively. Seventh-grader Eric Wendorf (9:52.8) and eighth-grader Lucas Markstrom (10:07.3) rounded out the team with 17th and 24th place finishes. This led the team to a third-place finish out of the 13 teams represented.
The junior high girls team finished fifth out of eight teams, led by seventh-grader Brooke Garlock, who finished in sixth place out of 133 runners in a time of 11:00.6. Other runners placing for the White Hawks included seventh-grader Gabby Callahan (21st; 11:45.9), eighth-grader Stella Johnson (22nd; 11:50.1), seventh-grader Claire Rashleger (27th; 11:56.0) and seventh-grader Sara Sipprell (30th; 11:51.1)
Through four weeks of running, four individuals have received “runner of the week” awards. These include – Beckett James, Ashton Demmer, Gabby Callahan and Kate McGown.
In addition, the team’s fundraising project this season is to help bring awareness to the mental illness crisis, which will culminate in the team doing an extremely long run on Oct. 29. Community members are encouraged to pledge one of the 56 members on the team, or reach out to Coach Humbert. [Read more about the ‘Runfaiser’]
The White Hawks’ next meet will be the Grasshopper at Gale Woods on Sept. 17. Racing action begins at 4 p.m. with events going until 6 p.m. on a very challenging home course. Come out to cheer on the Westonka runners!