The Kasson-Mantorville/Triton cross country team is a group that puts in plenty of time in order to hone their craft. In a sport where the goal is to run a 5k as fast as possible, a strong work ethic is required in order to see the success that the team has had throughout the past two months.
All of the hard work and hours put in throughout the calendar year paid off last week as the K-M/Triton boys team and Courtney West both captured HVL championships in the annual conference meet in Dodge Center.
As two of the biggest headlines, it wasn’t a surprise to see West or the boys team take home hardware, but the boys’ victory marked the first team championship since the K-M/Triton program restarted in 2011.
As a team, six of the seven K-M/Triton runners earned all-conference honors with Isaac Threinen leading the way winning the individual title while clocking in at 17:33.5 just ahead of George Gustafson (17:36.3). Jace Minelli (17:53.5, fourth) and Mason Iverson (17:56.7, fifth) rounded out the top-five for the race which left four runners clock in within 21 seconds of each other.
“This is easily the best team we’ve had since I’ve been here,” K-M/Triton head coach Jared Pittman declared. “They have had the best overall team time ever in our program and to have a 1-5 split of 30 seconds is very hard to do. It talks about the consistency and overall talent as well as the hard-working kids that we have.”
Benjamin Trihey (18:03.8, seventh) and Charlie Miller (18:07.0, eighth) also earned all-conference honors for K-M/Triton while Jared Johnson finished 21st with a time of 19:00.7.
On the girls side, it was Courtney West’s chance to shine again as she repeated as HVL champion with a time of 19:08.0 that was well above second place finisher Natasha Sortland of Zumbrota-Mazeppa/Kenyon-Wanamingo. In a year in which she finished just shy of making it to the state meet, West seems to be in the form to reach that goal this time around.
“It was very exciting and rewarding to see Courtney win like she did,” Pittman said. “She was pulling away in the last half of the race and you could see everything she worked for coming together. The girls that were second, third and fourth are all very good runners who have had times under 19 minutes this year, so it was a very impressive win to beat girls that are that fast.”
Pittman also noted that her back-to-back individual championships were also something special.
“It’s hard to have the consistency to win back-to-back years,” Pittman said. “There are always new girls coming like [Sortland] and then there are girls like the ones in Stewartville that are improving every year that make repeating a challenge.”
With another impressive meet in the books, K-M/Triton will gear up for its final meet of the year in the section championship in Owatonna on Thursday evening. The challenge with a loaded field is one that K-M/Triton is willing to take, but Pittman believes that his boys team and several other individuals such as West, Minelli, Gustafson and Threinen all have a chance to advance to state.
“It’s so hard to make the state meet in cross country,” Pittman admitted. “With only two classes, you have to compete with some of the biggest schools in the state. With that said, I think we have a fighting chance to make it. We will have to run very, very well, but it is a possibility. To even talk about the chance to make state is exciting.”