The Hiawatha Valley League cross country season begins later this month.
The Zumbrota-Mazeppa/Kenyon-Wanamingo boys join the girls in debuting this season Aug. 29 at the St. Olaf High School Showcase.
Here’s a look at how things stack up on the boys side.
Teams are listed in order of 2018 HVL finish. Grade levels listed are for 2019.
The KoMets swept both the team and individual HVL titles for the second straight year as current senior Isaac Threinen repeated with a time of 16:30.9 for a 14.5 second victory. K-M graduated its second runner, Jace Minelli, who placed sixth at 17:05.9 but returns six of seven total starters including three who finished in the top 20. The KoMets’ 46 points just edged out Lake City’s 52. Jared Pittman returns as head coach.
Three runners in the top 10 in the HVL is often a formula for a win. The Tigers came oh so close, finishing six points behind K-M. The Tigers will have some rebuilding to do as HVL runner up, Hunter Grimm (16:45.4) graduates along with team No. 3/10th place finisher Zach Scharpen (17:18.7). Reese Anderson was ninth (17:17.7) and will be a sophomore. Lake City had two current sophomores place first and second in the JV race as well as four in the top six. Longtime head coach Howie Cook returns.
Stewartville finished with 87 points to narrowly place third. The Tigers’ top runner, Alexander Lawrence, graduated after placing fifth at 16:59.9. Junior Jakob Ratelle is the leading returner who finished seventh at 17:15. Six of seven starters from last year still have two or more years left of eligibility. Mickie Tuseth returns as head coach.
The Panthers will have a new look after placing fourth with 93 points. They graduated four runners including fourth-place finisher Danny Langworthy (16:57.9). Third-place finisher, Tanner Horton, is back as a junior (16:55.5) as well as the team’s fourth and fifth runners. Amy Northrop returns as head coach.
The Eagles lacked a dominant runner last year but were competitive with four runners placing 11th through 21st. They placed fifth with 96 points. Lourdes’ leader, sophomore Kevin Turlington, is back after placing 11th at 17:20.3. The next two runners are out, but four of five returners still have two-plus years left of eligiblity. Pete Gilman returns as head coach.
The Bears appear to be the most veteran team for 2019 after a sixth place finish with 117 points. Top 2018 finisher, senior Aric Jorgenson, took 12th at 17:23.3 and is joined by five other returning starters in his grade. Byron’s second-place finisher, Lincoln Stellner (18th, 17:43) is the only departure for a team that placed each runner inside the top 38. Brandon Voegen returns as head coach.
Z-M/K-W was led by football player turned Tyler Ryan who now graduates after leading the team with a 27th place finish (18:16). Z-M/K-W placed seventh with 190 points. Ryan and the team’s third runner, Peyton Liffrig (40th, 19:18.2), graduated from an otherwise very young team. Eighth-grader Preston Ohm is the lead returner after earning 32nd place at 18:29.4. Will Grimsrud returns as a senior to a team that returns all eighth- through 10th-graders. Brad Smith returns as head coach.
Aside from No. 3 runner Vincent Davidson who graduated, the Bombers went with a youth movement in 2018. Their other six starters were sophomores or younger, led by current sophomore Jacob Wulf who placed 45th at 19:38.2. The team took eighth place with 248 points. Ben Schopp returns as head coach.