by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Elk River captured both team and individual titles at the new Royal Elk Cross Country Invitational on Thursday as Rachel Ness was first into the chute and the Elks had five of the top 16 at Fox Hollow Golf Club.
Rogers has hosted an invitational the past three Octobers, but when Chad Krueser took over as Royal coach this year, he got together with longtime Elk coach Mike Niziolek to make it a joint effort.
The Elks ran at Fox Hollow for the first time, as did Zimmerman’s small team, making it an all-district event, which is what the coaches had in mind. A fourth local team, Spectrum, the Elk River charter, was also among nine schools competing.
“It was fun to host the meet with Chad,” said Niziolek. “I think it went well and people had fun. This will continue to be a good event long into the future.”
Elk River also had the boys individual champion in Lucas Trapp.
“It was nice to have two individual champions, and the girls team did well,” said Niziolek. “We had a lot of solid performance but we will definitely run better in coming weeks. We are running bit tired right now, as are most teams.”
Ness took the lead early and finished in 15:38.5, about four seconds ahead of runner-up Mae Fullerton of Benilde-St. Margaret’s. The Elks also had Kennedy Warner in seventh place, Annica Carr 11th, Maria Brown 14th and Rachel Dorff 16th.
Spectrum was a strong second, led by Elizabeth Hackbarth in sixth place and Kayla Zimmerman in ninth. The Elks had 49, Spectrum 73 and Benilde-St. Margaret’s 76.
The Sting, who qualified for state last year and placed 13th in Class A, were defending champs of the Rogers meet but felt good to place second behind Elk River and beat everyone else.
“There were excellent cross country schools here today,” said coach Rick Peterson, “which will hep prepare us for the type of races we have coming up, the conference and the section. With solid teams like Elk River, they force your pace to be quicker than we might be accustomed to.”
The Rogers girls placed fourth, led by Jackie Lindfors in eighth place.
Zimmerman was well-represented by Nicole Jurik, who placed fifth individually. The Thunder fielded a full team for the first time this season and placed seventh out of eight.
Elk River will host its conference meet next Thursday.
1. Elk River 49
2. Spectrum 73
3. Benilde-St. Margaret’s 76
4. Rogers 102
5. Park-Cottage Grove 111
6. Providence Academy 134
7. Zimmerman 152
8. DeLaSalle 242
Top five individuals
1. Rachel Ness, Elk River, 15:38.6
2. Mae Fullerton, Benilde-St. Margaret’s, 15:42.2
3. Jenny Walz, Providence Academy, 15:46.1
4. Rebekah Schulte, Park-Cottage Grove, 15:54.8
5. Nicole Jurik, Zimmerman, 15:55.9
Elk River — (1) Ness (7) Kennedy Warner 15:59.7 (11) Annica Carr 16:23.2 (14) Maria Brown 16:42.6 (16) Rachel Dorff 16:56.4
Spectrum — (6) Elizabeth Hackbarth 15:57.7 (9) Kayla Zimmerman 16:15.5 (12) Becca Peterson 16:36.1 (15) Brittany Waterhouse 16:44.8 (31) Marissa Kuik 17:30.0
Rogers — (8) Jackie Lindfors 16:10.0 (20) Madie Mikolich 17:02.5 (21) Decoda Speidel 17:04.2 (25) Jenna Karls 17:12.4 (28) Brittany Dorn 17:176.5
Zimmerman — (5) Jurik (29) Kelsie Tufto 17:19.9 (33) Cheresa Bouley 17:39.9 (37) Summer Peoples 18:06.9 (48) Kelsey Forster 19:45.5