FARMINGTON – Lyndan Gruenke was in exclusive company Saturday afternoon as the lone cross country runner to break 17 minutes on the 5-kilometer course at Engler Park.
The Fredericktown junior notched his second race victory of the season and posted a school-record time by outpacing 122 varsity boys in the Farmington Invitational. The host school claimed top team honors.
Gruenke (16:55), who previously won at Oak Ridge, handled the varied terrain and stiff breeze to cross five seconds ahead of hard-charging Ste. Genevieve senior Devin St. Clair (17:00).
One of their toughest competitors all season, Kingston junior Noah Estes, suffered a misstep and scary fall as race leader past the midway point and could not finish due to injury.
St. Clair secured his best varsity result to date as runner-up in the Dragons' regular-season finale. Steelville sophomore Connor Diaz (17:06) was third.
Farmington cruised to the championship among 16 boys teams with 57 points. Potosi comfortably took second with 97 and Steelville had 126.
Adam Perry (17:15), who captured his first MAAA individual crown last weekend at Potosi City Park with Gruenke, Estes and St. Clair in tow, highlighted the Knights again by placing fourth.
Teammate Gavin Hunt (17:22) was just behind Perry in fifth, and the Farmington boys obtained five medals reserved for the top 40 individuals.
Freshman Mason Currington (18:06) ended up 17th while Ethan Anderson (18:20) and Bryan Arango (18:22) worked in tandem for 25th and 26th, respectively.
Arcadia Valley senior Josiah Lantz (17:39) claimed ninth position despite being nipped at the line on a full sprint by Cameron Johnson of Northwest.
Potosi matched Farmington with five medalists, powered by senior Will Jarvis (17:57) in 12th and freshman Ezekiel Sisk (18:05) in 15th. Jaden Kanan (18:23), Garrett Hale (18:31) and Tanner Gibson (18:38) rounded out the Trojans’ score.
Ste. Genevieve was not a factor in team competition with only four available varsity boys, but each of them landed safely within the top 25.
Levi Wiegand (18:05) placed 16th with Nathan St. Clair (18:14) in 21st and Mason Gegg (18:18) in 24th.
Estes, a two-time winner this season in his own right, was roughly five or six strides ahead of Gruenke and Diaz on a soft and wooded back stretch when encountering a short patch of rocks to begin a brief incline.
But he lost balance when planting his second foot after leaving the dirt surface, and remained prone and writhing in audible agony for several minutes with a hurting ankle.
Gruenke was the first to reach the final lakeside turn, where the surface switches from gravel to grass, and maintained safe distance as St. Clair modestly closed the gap.
Other boys medalists included Valle Catholic senior Peter Roth (18:07) along with Coby Gilbert (18:18) and Jackson Leeds (18:39) of North County.
Notre Dame brought home the girls championship by a 51-57 margin over Farmington, thanks to a dominant 1-2 finish from senior Haley Smith and freshman Lauren Eftink.
Smith (19:57), who finished fourth in the event last fall, was in total command well before reaching the two-mile mark, and notched a 35-second margin of victory.
Eftink (20:32) was fourth near that same juncture, but surged over the last five minutes to overtake both Danielle Maxwell (20:39) of Seckman and Celeste Sansegraw (20:40) of Potosi.
Farmington elected to implement a pack-running strategy from the outset. Alayna Sparr (21:10), Kristina Ramos (21:10) and Breanna Mathes (21:11) were separated by just 39 hundredths of a second between ninth and 11th overall.
Kathryn Taylor (21:13) of Notre Dame interrupted the parade of pink uniform tops worn by the Knights, but Chloe Wood (21:15), Brianna Eaves (21:29) and Lilly Earley (21:33) ran 13th through 15th.
Sansegraw continued a string of top-five results during her sophomore campaign for Potosi, which was third among 11 girls teams with 86 points.
Five of her teammates – Carlee Moss (21:37), Gracie Schutz (21:38), Hallie Portell (21:49), Alyson Skiles (22:01) and Kaydence Gibson (22:20) – also picked up medals.
Sophomore Alivia Simily (21:34) began her hopeful resurgence to all-state form after discovering an iron deficiency that recently curtailed her stamina.
The West county sophomore gained about a dozen positions over the last 1 1/4 miles to finish 16th, while teammate Sydney Cash (21:36) was two seconds behind in 17th.
Arcadia Valley senior Erica Standefer (21:59) returned after skipping Potosi last weekend, and was joined in the top 40 by Natalie Stricklan (22:12) and Emma Dettmer (22:28).
Camryn Basler (22:27) and Mary Roth (22:30) paced Valle Catholic.
Ellie Hinson (21:51) gave Farmington a seventh medalist in 24th place.
Several area teams will race at either Clayton or Dexter next weekend before entering the postseason.
Boys Team Results:
1. Farmington 57; 2. Potosi 97; 3. Steelville 126; 4. Northwest 134; 5. Seckman 145; 6. Notre Dame 166; 7. Oak Ridge 196; 8. North County 212; 9. Arcadia Valley 214; 10. Troy-Buchanan 215; 11. Dexter 236; 12. Valle Catholic 255; 13. Bismarck 320; 14. Woodland 337; 15. Greenville 394; 16. Saxony Lutheran 435.
Girls Team Results:
1. Notre Dame 51; 2. Farmington 57; 3. Potosi 86; 4. Seckman 117; 5. Northwest 118; 6. Arcadia Valley 177; 7. Steelville 209; 8. Valle Catholic 220; 9. Cuba 226; 10. Troy-Buchanan 233; 11. Dexter 250.
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