Three of Minnesota's top boys and girls cross country teams competed against each other at the Vintage Golf Course in Staples on Sept. 18.

West Central Area, Staples-Motley and Perham all stand in the rankings of the 2020 Class A coaches association rankings.

West Central Area claimed the boys race with 31 points, while Staples-Motley was second with 33 points. Perham was third with 61 points.

On the girls side, Staples-Motley prevented a West Central Area sweep with 25 points for the win. West Central Area was second with 46 points, while Perham was third with 53 points.

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Perham head coach Jeff Morris said the teams are training extremely hard right now and adjusting to the new three team formats for 2020.

“Finding a true gauge for where we are at has been tough for both teams,” Morris said. “However, both the girls and the boys have shown amazing resilience to the new meet formats and are definitely challenging themselves in practice. We knew coming in we were going to have to run at a high level given the competition. Our last two weeks of practice have been great. We definitely are starting to make big jumps in workouts.”

West Central Area held off Staples-Motley in the boys race, while the Yellowjackets were third overall. However, Perham was running without one of the state’s top runners in Jakob McCleary, who was out with an illness. He is expected back soon to help anchor the Yellowjacket team.

Morris said it was a great opportunity for the young team to step up and take on new roles during this meet.

Aiden Kennedy and Elijah Morris push each other down the back stretch during the River Run Race at The Vintage Golf Course in Staples. (Jason Groth / Perham Focus)
Aiden Kennedy and Elijah Morris push each other down the back stretch during the River Run Race at The Vintage Golf Course in Staples. (Jason Groth / Perham Focus)

“Our guys are super close to having a big breakthrough. You can just see it coming,” Morris said. “Our roster (at Staples) only has one runner that has varsity experience from the previous season.”

Staples-Motley’s Emmet Anderson was the meet winner. He finished with a time of 16 minutes and .2 seconds. West Central Area’s Kyle Schill was second at 16:54.6, followed by his teammate, Kade Runge, in third at 16:58.3.

The top Perham finisher was Carson Hespe. He finished with a time of 17:22.4 for fifth place. Micah Thompson followed in 11th place for Perham with a time of 17:53.2. Carter Flatau finished in 13th place at 18:07.4, followed by Caden Doll in 15th at 18:12.7. Bjorn Anderson was 17th for Perham at 19:00.7.

Elijah Morris crossed the finish line in 19th place with a time of 19:23.9, while Aiden Kennedy rounded out the field for Perham in 20th place with a time of 19:23.9.

Staples-Motley finished first by a wide margin in the girls competition. They finished with 25 points, while West Central Area came in second with 46 points. Perham rounded out the field with 53 points.

Morris said the girls team is gaining good experience with the new race format. He said they gave up some space early, but ran a strong second half of the race.

Perham's Liz Birkeland leads a runner from Staples-Motley on the back stretch of the Staples-Motley River Run at the Vintage Golf Course on Sept. 18. (Jason Groth / Perham Focus)
Perham's Liz Birkeland leads a runner from Staples-Motley on the back stretch of the Staples-Motley River Run at the Vintage Golf Course on Sept. 18. (Jason Groth / Perham Focus)

“You could definitely start to see the girls making movements. Now, our focus will have to be establishing our position a little earlier and eliminating the gap,” Morris said. “Our team is a pack running team and the challenge in a triangular is that there are so many more gaps to overcome. I think the lightbulb really went off for the girls as they are really starting to grind and finish strong.”

Staples-Motley’s Kyanna Burton finished first with a time of 19:28.9. She was followed by West Central Area’s Lexi Bright in second at 19:42.3. Staples-Motley’s Aften Robinson came in third at 20:10.5.

The top Perham finisher was Gracie Morris in seventh place. She finished with a time of 21:21.7. Mya Morris followed in 10th place at 21:38.6, leading the Perham pack to the finish line. She was followed by Kaia Starzl in 11th place at 21:40.1, who was followed by Quincy Anderson in 12th place at 21:48.7. Liz Birkeland came in behind Anderson in 13th place at 21:55.56. Mia Lung followed close behind in 14th place at 22:10.9, while Lauryn Rustad finished 15th for the Yellowjackets at 22:20.2.

Perham's Gracie Morris runs down the backstretch at the Vintage Golf Course in Staples. Morris led the way for the Yellowjackets with a seventh place finish. (Jason Groth / Perham Focus)
Perham's Gracie Morris runs down the backstretch at the Vintage Golf Course in Staples. Morris led the way for the Yellowjackets with a seventh place finish. (Jason Groth / Perham Focus)

Morris said the goal is to continue to train hard and be patient.

“We have to stay healthy and consistent,” Morris said. “We are super proud of both teams and look forward to the challenge of what the rest of the season will bring.”

The Yellowjackets return to competition against Hawley and Detroit Lakes on Sept. 24 in Hawley.



Staples-Motley River Run

Boys Team Results

West Central Area 31, Staples-Motley 33, Perham 61

Individual Results

1 Emmet Anderson, SM, 16:00.2; 2 Kyle Schill, WCA, 16:54.6; 3 Kade Runge, WCA 16:58.3; 4 Alex Salwasser, WCA, 17:16.7; 5 Carson Hespe, PER, 17:22.4; 6 Issiah Tabatt, SM, 17:33.1; 7 Lyle Brownwell, 17:34.0; 8 Reubens Swanson, WCA, 17:41.7; 9 Luke Brownell, SM, 17:45.3; 10 Logan Robben, SM, 17:51.5; 11 Micah Thompson, PER, 17:53.2; 12 Tanner Robben, SM, 17:57.6; 13 Carter Flatau, PER, 18:07.4; 14 Shad Swanson, WCA, 18:11.8; 15 Caden Doll, PER, 18:12.7; 16 Peyton Hanson, WCA, 18:55.8; 17 Bjorn Anderson, PER, 19:00.7; 18 Sam Jennissen, SM, 19:02.8; 19 Elijah Morris, PER, 19:23.9; 20 Aiden Kennedy, PER, 19:23.9; 21 Roman MIhailovschi, SM, 19:35.4.



Staples-Motley River Run

Girls Team Results

Staples-Motley 25, West Central Area 46, Perham 53

Individual Results

1 Kyanna Burton, SM, 19:28.9; 2 Lexi Bright, WCA, 19:42.3; 3 Aften Robinson, SM 20:10.5; 4 Audrey Brownell, SM, 20:17.3; 5 Taylor Bennett, WCA, 21:03.1; 6 Macy Grosz, WCA, 21:17.4; 7 Gracie Morris, PER, 21:21.7; 8 Naila Mikhaeil, SM, 21:26.5; 9 Ashley Robben, SM, 21:30.5; 10 Mya Morris, PER, 21:38.6; 11 Kaia Starzl, PER, 21:40.1; 12 Quincy Anderson, PER, 21:48.7; 13 Liz Birkeland, PER, 21:55.6; 14 Mia Lung, 22:10.9; 15 Lauryn Rustad, PER, 22:20.2; 16 Terina Blascyk, WCA, 22:22.4; 17 Halle Foslien, WCA, 22:52.4; 18 Alexa Blume, WCA, 23:11.0; 19 Addisyn Chicos, SM, 23:19.1; 20 Mya Foslien, WCA, 23:33.4; 21 Abby Brown, SM, 28:03.9.