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West Central Area back at state looking for a big finish after taking second at the 6A championship

Kade Runge and Alex Salwasser finished second and third individually as they helped the Knights to a Class A state-qualifying finish at the Minnewaska Golf Club. Parkers Prairie junior James Suchy also qualified for state as an individual.

The West Central Area boys cross country team has been one of the top Class A programs in the state for multiple years now, and the Knights will get a chance to showcase themselves at the state meet again this fall.

The Knights finished second overall at the Section 6A championship at the Minnewaska Golf Club on Friday night. They totaled 58 points, 10 shy of section champion Staples-Motley as both teams earned a trip to St. Olaf on Nov. 6.

This marks the sixth straight state meet that West Central Area will run in after qualifying for the first time in 2015. The 2020 state race was not run due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Something that really stands out about this group is just the leadership that our seniors have shown,” WCA head coach Austin Hanson said. “While we really wanted to win the section, this is a pretty massive deal for these guys. They’ve been working hard for this for years, and we’re going to really bounce back this next week at state and show people what they can do. A lot of them ran really well. Maybe just not what our potential is. We’re going to be right where we need to be next week.”

Three different runners out of the 119-athlete field finished the 5K in under 17 minutes on Friday. Two of those were from WCA.

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Seniors Kade Runge and Alex Salwasser were second and third, respectively, with times of 16:43.9 and 16:50. Brandon Kampsen of Sauk Centre won the individual championship in 16:26.6.

“Alex and Kade have been really, really strong runners ever since they were freshmen in high school,” Hanson said. “They’ve been incredible leaders in different ways. Alex is a more vocal leader, and he calls people out and keeps them accountable and also is an incredible runner. Kade is more of a quiet guy. He leads by example, and those two feed off each other. Shad Swanson is our third, and he’s a senior too who has been doing just an amazing job of encouraging the young kids and being a good leader too.”

Swanson was 11th overall in 17:37.3. Juniors Roman Mihailovschi finished 15th (18:00.4) and Eli Bergman was 27th overall (18:40.8) to finish the team scoring. Junior Peyton Hanson (28th, 18:42) and 8th-grader Aaron Biss (85th, 21:06.2) rounded out the Knights’ varsity lineup.

The Knights did enough to finish second at the 6A championship, and coach Hanson is confident they have even faster races in them as they get set for a noon start time at St. Olaf on Nov. 6.

“I think they can make podium, so top three,” he said. “Perham is always a big challenge. They’re really good, and there’s a couple of prep schools down in the Twin Cities who are always good, but I think we have what it takes to make it to the podium. That would be great."

Panthers’ Suchy qualifies

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Parkers Prairie junior James Suchy qualified for the state meet as an individual out of Section 6A as he was seventh overall in a time of 17:32.2.

The Panthers finished 14th (347 points) out of 17 total teams at sections. Riley Kortenbush (66th, 20:05.8), Isaac Grabow (84th, 20:57.7), Andrew Sansness (96th, 22:06), Evan Washburn (97th, 22:10.7), Ross Kortenbush (100th, 22:26.6) and Justin Koehn (104th, 23:04.4) finished off the Panthers’ lineup.

Minnewaska 7th, Osakis 10th, A-B-E 12th

Sophomore Maeson Tank led Minnewaska to a 7th-place finish with 230 points.

Tank was 14th overall in a time of 17:55.8. Zach Palmer (32nd, 18:49), Nick Ankeny (44th, 19:10.2), Jace Kovarik (63rd, 19:58.7) and Jaden Anderson (77th, 20:33.6) were a part of Minnewaska’s team score, while Ian Mills (82nd, 20:51.3) and James Ward (86th, 21:13.8) rounded out the lineup.

Osakis ended up 10th overall with 266 points.

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Freshman Zackery Brueder led the way for the Silverstreaks in 24th place overall in a time of 18:21.2. Kale Drevlow (35th, 18:52.7) and Jacob Taplin (36th, 18:53.4) finished right next to each other as Osakis’ second and third runners.

Brennen Gustafson was 83rd in 20:55.7, and Marcus Wolf was 90th (21:39.4). Isaac Loverink (111th, 23:46.8) and Isaac Ruegemer (114th, 24:39.1) rounded out the Silverstreaks’ lineup.

Junior Logan Froemming led Ashby-Brandon-Evansville to a 12th-place finish (310 points) as he finished 34th overall in 18:51.4.

"Logan continued his strong running by leading the team," A-B-E head coach Robert Bosma said. "His focus has been great the last month and he ran with determination. I'm glad he's a junior because this season has really shown a change in his training, and I look forward to what he can do next year."

Jayden Hoidahl was 46th in 19:16.2. Kenneth Spielman (62nd, 19:56.2), Kian Gackle (78th, 20:36.7), Donell Lee (91st, 21:40.2), August Bredberg (93rd, 21:54.6) and Cohen Reiland (107th, 23:22.4) finished A-B-E’s lineup.

"Kenneth ran because we were missing a few guys due to being sick," Bosma said. "He definitely gave a strong performance. Like Logan, he has been very determined and practicing really hard. I look forward to what the future holds for him."

Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
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