REDWOOD FALLS - Led by a first-place finish for Andrew Bell and five Top 10 finishers from the girls on Tuesday, Marshall's boys' and girls' cross country teams swept the Southwest Conference for the first time since 2007.
The Marshall boys scattered their top five runners between first and 12th place to move past both Redwood Valley and Worthington, which had defeated Marshall at two previous races.
"Third time's the charm," Marshall boys' coach Mike Jacobs said. "Worthington and Redwood beat us at our home meet quite a bit. Of course, we didn't have Tanner (Bukowski), and then Tanner was on the comeback in Adrian and Worthington beat us there by six. I knew Tanner would have a much better race, and everyone kind of elevated their game, starting with Andrew Bell."
Photo by Travis Andries
Marshall senior Madi Verschaetse nears the finish line during Tuesday’s Southwest Conference Cross Country Championships at Redwood Falls Golf Club. Verschaetse was the top finisher for the Tiger girls.
Bell completed the course in 16 minutes, 22 seconds, outpacing the competition by eight seconds while leading Marshall to 37 points and first place.
"That was big for him to dominate the Worthington and Redwood top runners," Jacobs said. "That was a big question mark as we came here, in my mind, whether it was going to happen. Andrew always goes out with the leaders, he always challenges. As the season's progressed, he's gotten closer and closer to the end before he lets them drift away."
It was Bell and the Tigers who drifted away in the end, taking first place by nine points over Redwood Valley. Blaine Moran set a personal record while finishing fifth overall and second for the Tigers. His time of 16:54 was his first under 17 minutes.
"I've been hounding him all year to step it up," Jacobs said. "He's just been plateaued on the same times as last year, and today he really took a big jump."
Mike Larson was ninth overall with a time of 17:16, just edging out Tanner Bukowski in 10th place (17:17). Wade DeAustin rounded out the top five Tigers at 17:21, good enough for 12th place.
Worthington took third in the boys meet with 48 points, just two behind Redwood Valley. Luverne (96) was the only other team to score under 100 points, as Windom Area (150), Pipestone Area (153) and Jackson County Central (176) rounded out the field.
During the girls' meet, the Tigers proved the importance of pack running. Marshall's top five runners finished fourth through eighth, picking up 30 points and a conference championship in the process.
"We have one of the best teams that Marshall's ever had," Tigers girls head coach Marie Sample said. "I don't know that Marshall's ever had five girls that have continuously been within 24 seconds of each other meet after meet after meet."
First-year harrier Madi Verschaetse paced the Tigers with a fourth-place finish and time of 15:34. Following Verschaetse were Claire Boersma (15:41) and Rose Andersen (15:44). Shyla Hansen (15:46) and Nichole Sample (15:58) rounded out the top five Tigers.
"Today we were 24 seconds apart, and that's with one runner sick and having a bad day," Sample said.
Nichole Sample, who has been the top runner for the Tigers all season, was their fifth finisher at the conference championships. She finished eighth overall despite suffering from an illness during the meet. But her drop in placing allowed for some fresh faces to take the reins and receive a confidence boost with sections looming.
"We've had some time to get faster, we've had some time to do some awesome workouts and get in some more meets and let these older kids, that I've asked to step up, get a chance to get up and lead," Marie Sample said. "Today it was really good to see them do that because now I know Madi knows she can run up front. I know Claire knows that she can run upfront because she's been right behind Nichole. They all got a boost of confidence today. Those girls got a taste of, 'Hey I can go up there and lead this team.'"
Marshall stormed off with the conference title, defeating Luverne by 25 points despite the Cardinals having the top two individual finishers. Madison Schandelmeier led all runners at 14:59, while teammate Makayla Hohn was second at 15:22. Redwood Valley was a distant third with 92 points, and Worthington was fourth at 98. Pipestone Area (123) and Windom Area (136) were the other competing schools.
Up next for both the Marshall boys' and girls' teams will be a trip to Buffalo for the Section 2AA meet at Buffalo Heights Golf Course on Oct. 25.
Boys Team Results 1. Marshall 37, 2. Redwood Valley 46, 3. Worthington 48, 4. Luverne 96, 5. Windom Area 150, 6. Pipestone Area 153, 7. Jackson County Central 176.
Top 14 Individuals (1-7 All-Southwest Conference; 8-14 Honorable Mention)
1. Andrew Bell (M) 16:22; 2. Ryan Phillips (RV) 16:30; 3. Ethan Spittle (W) 16:43; 4. Alex Amunrud (RV) 16:48; 5. Blaine Moran (M) 16:54; 6. Anthony Luft (W) 16:58; 7. Amanuel Fissiha (W) 17:02; 8. Nick VonMosch (RV) 17:03; 9. Mike Larson (M) 17:16; 10. Tanner Bukowski (M) 17:17; 11. Josh Friedrichsen (L) 17:20; 12. Wade DeAustin (M) 17:21; 13. Cody Hess (L) 17:25; 14. Matthew Jirele (W) 17:30.
Marshall Individual Results 1. Andrew Bell 16:22; 5. Blaine Moran 16:54; 9. Mike Larson 17:16; 10. Tanner Bukowski 17:17; 12. Wade DeAustin 17:21.
Girls Team Results 1. Marshall 30, 2. Luverne 55, 3. Redwood Valley 92, 4. Worthington 98, 5. Pipestone Area 123, 6. Windom Area 136.
Top 14 Individuals (1-7 All-Conference; 8-14 Honorable Mention)
1. Madison Schandelmeier (L) 14:59; 2. Makayla Hohn (L) 15:22; 3. Kayla Huhnerkoch (RV) 15:23; 4. Madi Verschaetse (M) 15:34; 5. Claire Boersma (M) 15:41; 6. Rose Andersen (M) 15:44; 7. Shyla Hansen (M) 15:46; 8. Nichole Sample (M) 15:58; 9. Mariah Aukes (L) 16:05; 10. Livia Wallace (PA) 16:09; 11. Meredith Moore (W) 16:12; 12. Alicia Darling (W) 16:13; 13. Christianna Green (WA) 16:21; 14. Kara Thompson (WA) 16:29.
Marshall Individual Results: 4. Madi Verschaetse 15:34; 5. Claire Boersma 15:41; 6. Rose Andersen 15:44; 7. Shyla Hansen 15:46; 8. Nichole Sample 15:58.