With pre-meet projections going against the Holy Family Catholic repeating as the boys’ cross country champion at the Fridley High School Peach Run, the Fire stepped onto the course at Commons Park against teams over twice their size to prove the projections wrong; and did so once again.
The Fire boys rode a wave of four runners among the top-five finishers on an early season 2-mile short course to power its way past the competition en route to outdistancing runner-up Spring Lake Park by a score of 35-66 to claim its second consecutive Peach Run team title.
Holy Family was led on the course by Patrick Ricke, who returned from missing the first meet of the season to pace the Fire with a second-place time of 10 minutes, 54 seconds.
From there a sea of black and green followed for the Fire with senior co-captain Ben Fink running an all-time personal-best two-mile time of 10:55, almost 50 seconds better than last year’s time.
Jaden Lorenz ran a personal-best clocking of 10:58.4, while Tyler Franck also bested his two-mile personal best time with a swift 10:58.7 clocking to complete a second- through fifth-place sweep.
Greg Stoffel, who improved 47 seconds from last season’s clocking with a time of 11:43.70, finished in the top-20 to complete the team score.
“Our top four boys’ runners did a sensational job of pack running up front and our No. 5 has shown he’s much improved from last season, with all of them running personal bests,” Fire head coach Ron Hoffman said. “A pack like that is going to be competitive at its share of meets, making a solid fifth runner the ultimate deciding factor when we get to those later season meets.”
Coach Hoffman was also pleased to point out that every Fire girl and boy runner — first to last — ran a personal- or seasonal-best two-mile time on the Commons Park course at Fridley. “It’s a long season and every team is going to improve, as will ours, but what the Fire teams did today was a very good start,” he said.
The Holy Family girls’ cross country team also finished in fine form on Sept. 5. While competing with an abbreviated team line-up, what the Fire girls lacked in numbers, they made up for in quality, with all four runners racing to top-10 performances in their respective races.
Leading the way was Holy Family freshman Ava Mettler, who ran a new personal best 2-mile of 13 minutes, 40.8 seconds on the Commons Park course. Eighth grader Morgan Franck was close behind with her new personal-best of 14:01.2.
Senior captain Abbey Fink finished near Franck in a 14:05.9 clocking, while a new Holy Family runner, Danielle Sutcliffe, rounded out the Fire team effort by dropping almost a full minute off of her previous 2-mile race to finish in 14:32.3.
Five runners in the top 22 led fifth-ranked Minnetonka to a runner-up team finish in the 5K girls cross country race at Gale Woods Sept. 5.
The Skippers’ 77 points were second to champion St. Michael-Albertville (59), ranked No. 3 in Class AA, at the Bauman Rovn Invitational.
Kate LeBlanc caught up to teammate Maya Mor to place ninth and 10th overall in times of 19 minutes, 44 seconds.
Eighth grader Ella Graham crossed the finish line in 16th place at 20:04 followed by Annalise Johnson (20:10) and eighth grader Elizabeth Weider (20:14) in 20th and 22nd places.
Anna Cherian (20:35), Margaret Weider (20:42), Bella Buenting (20:54), and Kylie Melz (21:03) gave the Skippers nine runners in the top 35.
Minnetonka did not run its top boys competitors in the race. Freshmen Nick Gilles (17:34) and JD Landstrom (17:37) had top-50 finishes.