ALEXANDRIA — Two members of the Fergus Falls cross-country team — Jaden Miller for the boys’ and Cassie Wellman, girls’ — added some exclamation marks to their already-impressive seasons, qualifying for state at the Section 8AA meet Thursday at Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria.
Taking first in the boys’ portion of the meet as a team was Willmar in first (71) while three other teams duked it out for runner-up honors: Pequot Lakes (second place, 90), Alexandria (third, 95) and Fergus Falls (fourth, 96).
Individually Jaden Miller led the Otters boys placing seventh overall with his state-qualifying time of 17:25.2. Miller was followed by Jack Welde (13th, 18:03.2), Luke Schroeder (22nd, 18:25.4), Logan Bredenberg (24th, 18:29.4) and Matthew Tuel (30th, 18:40.5). David Ronnevik (41st, 18:56.4) and Henry Greenagel (43rd, 19:02.1) also recorded times.
“This was a very close matchup all around and very exciting and stressful to be a part of. I know the boys had their hearts and desires set on a state appearance. To be so close is heartbreaking but nothing to keep any heads down about. We had a great all-around team effort and the results show,” said Otters boys’ head coach Derek Meyer. “A shining moment out of the experience, that we will have one representative of our team running at the state meet. Jaden Miller had a perfectly executed race. He kept with the front pack and never looked back. It is a remarkable accomplishment at his young age, his future is bright and will bring his teammates some great experience for next season.”
For the girls’ portion of the meet, as a team, Fergus Falls placed seventh overall (187) with Albany (185) barely edging past the Otters for sixth. The top three spots were filled out by Willmar (45) in first, Alexandria (55), second and Rocori (62) in third.
The top finisher for the Otters girls was Wellman in 11th overall with her state-qualifying time of 19:46.4. Wellman was followed by Ainsley Hansen (38th, 22:14.3), Julia Anderson (45th, 22:31.7), Rebecca Schindler (46th, 22:35.1) and Naomi Dummer (47th, 22:36.9). Sarah Grotberg (63rd, 22:48.4) and Hannah Scharnberg (64th, 23:51.6) also recorded times.
“Seventh-grader Cassie Wellman qualified for the state meet tonight. She ran a solid time on a challenging course. This is a hard-earned trip. Her hard work and focus has brought her to this point. I am so proud of her and excited that she is able to travel down to St Olaf as a seventh-grader. This experience will benefit her in years to come,” said Otters girls’ head coach Niki Welde. “As a team we finished seventh in the field of 12. I am proud of these girls in their final race of the season. Captain, Ainsley Hansen, ran second for us this season. Ainsley has had an excellent season and career with the Otters. She has shown to be an excellent leader. Julia Anderson was next for the Otters with the best race of her season. She had a great season-ending race. Becca Schindler and Naomi Dummer rounded out our scoring Otters tonight. Grotberg and Hanah Scharnerg ran in our sixth and seventh places. All of these girls worked together as a solid team to accomplish a fantastic finish in the section.”
The boys’ Class AA state meet will take place in St. Olaf, Nov. 6 at 2:30 p.m. and the girls’ Class AA competition at 3:30 p.m. the same day, with awards to follow at 4:15 p.m.