Piepenburg leads the way for Alexandria boys
Alexandria senior Trent Piepenburg set the tone for the Cardinal boys cross country team as he continued his strong season at the Lions Meet of Champions on Saturday.
Piepenburg finished 28th against a talented field of runners to help the Cardinals to an 11th-place finish with his time of 17:24.9. Colton Sailor was 40th individually in 17:44.3, while Brandon Jerde (48th, 17:53.6), Austin Thom (74th, 18:20.7) and Jimmy Pfeffer (87th, 18:35.3) rounded out the top five for Alexandria.
“Trent was phenomenal,” head coach Mark Nelsen said. “He led our boys off the line. He’s just having an amazing season. He continues to be one of our front runners.”
The Cardinals were running without one of their top runners with junior Aaron Runge being held out because of injury. Runge is dealing with a lower-leg injury and Nelsen felt it was better to play it safe with the conference and section meets scheduled for October 15 and 24, respectively.
The Cardinal runners weren’t bunched together at their home meet like they have been for much of the season. The gap between the times of Piepenburg and Pfeffer was more than one minute, 10 seconds.
“It was not our great boys race,” Nelsen said. “We were separated out there. Our boys are usually within 30-40 seconds of each other. I’m pretty sure there was a minute gap between our one to five, and that’s not acceptable for these guys. They’re capable of closing it up much closer than that.”
A busy off-season for many of the Cardinal boys has led to some heightened expectations for this group. Nelsen has commented a lot about the work that many of these guys put into training during the summer months, and it’s helped them position themselves as one of the top teams in the Central Lakes Conference behind Willmar.
“They were together running and there were 12-14 kids that ran all summer long,” Nelsen said. “There’s two seniors in that group so this is a young group still, and they’re gaining experience every time they race. They are very motivated to improve and get better, so they’ve been very fun to work with.”
Stillwater ran away with the team title on the boys’ side with 68 points behind four top-20 individual finishers on Saturday. Mounds View was second with 109 points and Bemidji and Moorhead rounded out the top four, respectively. Those are teams that Alexandria will try to chase down as the Cardinals look toward the section meet at the end of the month.
“Willmar is definitely the favorite in the section,” Nelsen said. “They beat us by four, five points down at Rocori. In the section, it’s just going to be a battle. You’ve got Moorhead, you’ve got Bemidji, Willmar, us. There are four or five good teams in the section.”
LIONS MEET OF CHAMPIONS
BOYS’ TEAM RESULTS – 1. Stillwater – 68; 2. Mounds View – 109; 3. Bemidji – 127; 4. Moorhead – 166; T-5. White Bear Lake – 172; Chanhassen – 172; 7. Chaska – 198; 8. Buffalo – 207; 9. Red Wing – 245; 10. Marshall – 247; 11. Alexandria – 277; 12. Cretin-Derham Hall – 307; 13. Sartell – 342; 14. St. Thomas Academy – 359; 15. St. Cloud Cathedral – 416; 16. Roseville – 423; 17. New Prague – 427; 18. St. Cloud Tech – 441; 19. Windom Area – 571; 20. St. Cloud Apollo – 587
ALEXANDRIA – Piepenburg – 28th, 17:24.9; Sailor – 40th, 17:44.3; Jerde – 48th, 17:53.6; Thom – 74th, 18:20.7; Pfeffer – 18:35.3; Eric Branch – 106th, 19:16.0