Marshall's cross country coaches were full of positivity following Tuesday's Adrian Invitational, as the Tiger girls took top honors in the event and the boys finished second among 17 teams.
With just a 29-second spread between the Marshall girls' team's first- and sixth-place runners, the Tigers finished with a team score of 59, which was 22 points better than runner-up Sioux Falls Washington. Rounding out the top five were Luverne (108), Canby/Minneota/Lincoln HI (111) and Adrian.
Marshall girls' head coach Marie Sample said she was impressed with how her team responded after its fifth-place finish at the Alexandria Invitational on Saturday.
"Both Adrian and Luverne are honorable mention in Class A in state and have very strong teams right now," Sample said. "Also, we were able to upset Sioux Falls Washington, who has a very strong team. We put a big spread between us and Canby, which when we race in these smaller meets, we've been beating them by about 18 points or so. The nice thing is that Luverne is in our conference and we haven't run against them all year and we knew they were good, so we wanted to see how we matched up."
Seventh-grader Nichole Sample led the Tigers with a fifth-place finish, crossing the line in 15 minutes, 23 seconds. Senior Madi Verschaetse had a strong race and finished in ninth place, just seven seconds behind Sample. The two were followed by Claire Boersma (11th place, 15:35), Rose Andersen (14th, 15:38) and Shyla Hansen (20th, 15:52).
Marie Sample was especially impressed with Verschaetse, who is competing in cross country for the first time this year.
"There's a lot of really good things that happened today," Sample said. "I asked Madi to go up and hang off of Nichole's shoulder. She did that and hung on as long as she could and ended up finishing just seven seconds behind her."
The Marshall boys' team got a boost with the return of senior Tanner Bukowski, who had missed most of the season with a hip flexor injury. Working his way back into shape, Bukowski finished in 23rd place with a time of 18:06.
Really, he's just coming back with baby steps," said Marshall boys' coach Mike Jacobs. "I was really curious to see how he'd react. He hasn't raced since Monticello in the second meet of the year. It was very encouraging for him to get through today with no pain."
The Tigers finish with 64 points, which was six points behind meet champion Worthington. Sioux Falls Washington was third (76), Canby/Minneota/Lincoln HI was fourth (123) and Luverne placed fifth (127).
Marshall junior Andrew Bell finished second overall witha time of 16:33, which was six seconds back of C/M/L's Nick Stoks. Blaine Moran took 10th for the Tigers (17:29), Mike Larson was 12th (17:32) and Wade DeAustin was 17th (17:48).
Jacobs said Tuesday's race was about the closest Bell has come to Stoks, and the head coach was also pleased with the continued progress of Mike Larson.
"It was a shot in the arm for the guys to have Tanner back. It gave them some fire," Jacobs said. " We were considerably further behind Worthington at our home meet and paid the price early for not doing enough work in the offseason, but things are starting to come along nicely now."
The Marshall cross country teams are off until next Tuesday when they compete in the Southwest Conference Championship in Redwood Falls.
Adrian Cross Country Invitational
Girls Team Results: 1. Marshall 59; 2. Sioux Falls Washington 81; 3. Luverne 108; 4. Canby/Minneota/Lincoln HI 111; 5. Adrian 115; 6. Sioux Falls Roosevelt 170; 7. Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd 174; 8. Montevideo 184; 9. Mountain Lake 205; 10. Worthington 239; 11. Pipestone Area 308; 12. Windom Area 340; 13. Murray County Central 342.
Marshall Individual Results: 5. Nichole Sample 15:23, 9. Madi Verschaetse 15:30, 11. Claire Boersma 15:35, 14. Rose Andersen 15:38, 20. Shyla Hansen 15:52.
Boys Team Results: 1. Worthington 58; 2. Marshall 64; 3. Sioux Falls Washington 76; 4. Canby/Minneota/Lincoln HI 123; 5. Luverne 127; 6. Montevideo 149; 7. Sioux Falls Roosevelt 168; 8. Yellow Medicine East 267; 9. Jackson County Central 278; 10. Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd 307; 11. Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 325; 12. MACCRAY/Renville County West 327; 13. Pipestone Area 328; 14. Mountain Lake Area 343; 15. Windom Area 350; 16. Murray County Central 374; 17. Springfield/Cedar Mountain/Comfrey 381.
Marshall Individual Results: 2. Andrew Bell 16:33; 10. Blaine Moran 17:29; 12. Mike Larson 17:32; 17. Wade DeAustin 17:48; 23. Tanner Bukowski 18:06; 41. Chase VanKeulen 18:38; 46. John Botsford 18:39.