The West Central Area cross country teams got a chance to compete against some of the best programs in the state at the Staples’ Vintage Golf Course on Sept. 19, and the Knights proved again they belong right in that category.

The West Central Area boys are ranked first in the Class A state rankings, and Perham and Staples-Motley are right behind them in the polls. The Knights proved to be a little better than both of them.

“The boys race came down to the last 100 meters of the race,” WCA head coach John Van Kempen said. “Junior Reubens Swanson passed a Staple’s runner, giving us the win and preventing what would have been a tie. Reubens ended up in eighth place overall. Our boys 1, 2, 3 punch ended up in second, third and fourth. Kyle Schill was second, Kade Runge third and Alex Salwasser fourth behind Staples’ Emmet Anderson, who has several Division 1 offers on his plate.”

Swanson was the Knights’ fifth scoring runner after finishing in just over 18 minutes. Peyton Hanson finished 16th overall as WCA’s sixth runner and Roman Mihailovschi was 21st. The Knights finished with 31 points overall. Staples-Motley was second at 33, and Perham scored 61 points in the loaded field.

Van Kempen was also impressed with the WCA girls as they finished second with 46 points. State-ranked Staples-Motley won with 25 points and Perham was third at 53.

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Knights’ junior Lexi Bright proved she belonged in a talented field as she ran to a second-place finish behind Staples’ top runner, Kyanna Burton. Bright came across in under 20 minutes.

“Taylor Bennet was fifth, followed by Mace Grosz in sixth,” Van Kempen said. “Taylor has been instrumental in providing leadership to our inexperienced competitors. Terina Blascyk was next in 16th, Halle Foslien (17th), Alexa Blume (18th) and Mya Foslien(20th)...We are hoping there will be some sort of postseason and this experience racing against talented teams helps us to learn how to prepare and compete against other good teams.”