By Alicia Sunnarborg
The Westonka cross country team hosted Orono and Jordan at Gale Woods on Sept. 11. It was a great fall day for a race – overcast in the 60s – and the team took advantage. “It was a very impressive showing for us last Friday,” said White Hawks head coach Chris Humbert. “Without exception, the kids had a super attitude, admirable effort and strong performances.”
“Our varsity girls got the meet rolling, with all seven of our young women posting super times and racing and pacing smartly,” said Humbert. Sophomore Laura Sunnarborg finished the 5k in 20:13 to lead all runners. Junior Alli Soule took second for the girls in 21:16, with eighth-grader Audrey Kirscht grabbing fourth at 21:55. “Obviously, going 1-2-4 is a dream and almost ensures success,” said Humbert. “Coach [Jessica] Rashleger and I were really proud of how they bounced back from a narrow defeat the week before.”
The next varsity girls, all eighth-graders, also finished strong, with Brooke Garlock at 22:47, Gabby Callahan at 23:29 and Claire Rashleger right behind at 23:30. Senior Jenna Brustad wrapped it up for the White Hawks girls at 24:57.
The White Hawks varsity boys team was led by their juniors, claiming the teams’ top five spots. Lance Nemecek led the way, earning fifth place with a time of 18:05. Josh Engesser claimed seventh at 18:51. Owen Paul, Max Epsky and Beckett James ran most of the race together, finishing at 19:11, 19:15 and 19:17, respectively.
The boys’ remaining finishers were also close, including senior Derek Lloyd and freshman Charlie Paul at 19:22 and 19:27, and senior Charlie Herder at 19:41.
Coach Humbert described the boys varsity race: “The varsity boys were dominated by Orono but defeated a sound Jordan team on the strength of our depth and consistency. Having Lance always throw in a good-great race enables us to position ourselves for success. If it weren’t for a mid-race injury to Charlie Herder, we would have scored even better. We were pumped up about our times and were rewarded after a tough week of practice.”
The boys junior varsity team claimed six of the top 10 places. Sophomore Jacob Trost earned second in 20:34, with senior Roman Fenzl claiming third at 20:46. Sophomore Ethan Garlock finished fourth at 21:08, with junior Wyatt Carlson just behind him in fifth place at 21:14. Sophomores Ambrose Neumann and Ashton Dehmer shared ninth and tenth place, crossing the line together at 21:31.
“Talk about saving the best for last!,” said Humbert. “Our JV young men cruised to victory due to many kids running negative splits after taking it out fairly hard.”
“I can’t overemphasize how pleased I was about our tactical pacing from top to bottom,” Humbert added. “But we have some tough meets ahead for the JV, so these guys will have to keep training well to compete against our future foes.”
Coach Humbert said that maybe the most satisfying part of the day was that the White Hawks had several fans at the race – both parents and students. Humbert said, “That is rare in our sport, which is a shame, because if one is willing to walk a little, seeing a CC race unfold is actually very inspiring!”
The White Hawks compete next at Waconia on Thursday, Sept. 17.