Gustafson qualifies for state CC meet for second time
The Kasson-Mantorville/Triton cross country team will have a representative at the state meet for the second straight year as Brennan Gustafson qualified with a sixth-place finish in the boys race at the Section 1AA Meet in Owatonna on October 27.
The senior finished with a time of 16:31.3, which represented a personal record and the highlight of the meet for K-M. As he prepares for the state meet at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. on Saturday morning, Pittman believes that his experience from last year will create an advantage once he hits the blocks.
“It’s always easier the second time around,” K-M cross country coach Jared Pittman said of Gustafson’s trip to state. “The first time is always a bit of shock with the number of people and the big stage, but Brennan will be much more relaxed and prepared this year at the meet. He’s a verification that hard work plus a little talent can go a long way.”
As a unit, the boys team had a very strong section meet as they were able to finish ninth out of the 16 team field. Behind his brother Brennan was George Gustafson who had an impressive finish for a seventh-grader at 22nd place and a time of 17:01.3. Senior Harrison Heppleman (17:35.6, 53rd), junior Charlie Miller (17:37.8, 56th) and sophomore Jace Minelli (17:43.3, 65th) also stood out for a team that was strong all season long.
While the boys were able to send a representative with Gustafson, the girls fell just short when Courtney West finished in 12th place. Her time of 19:12.9 was just two seconds behind Autumn Mullenberg of Albert Lea, who was the final qualifier at 19:10.6. It was a heartbreaking end to the season for someone who had been so dominant and won the HVL championship just a week ago.
Tiana Wiebke also stood out for K-M/Triton as she finished 50th with a time of 20:49.8 and Sophie Gossard finished 88th with a time of 22:02.8.
Sometimes in a large meet with plenty of competition from larger schools, it can be hard to keep everything in perspective. However, Pittman is quick to point out that several of his runners have improved since the beginning of the year but several stood out to him.
“The three that really stick out to me throughout the year are Jace Minelli, George Gustafson and Ashley Christensen (23:23.2, 102nd),” Pittman revealed. “They all made some huge strides during the year and I can’t wait to see how they im