October 8, 2009 at 8:51 a.m.

CL wins own invite

CL wins own invite
CL wins own invite

Chisago Lakes Invitational

Although the girls cross country team has been performing well so far this season, they still hadn't broken through for a defining win so far.

But, that all changed when they hosted their own meet last week at Ki Chi Saga State Park. The Wildcats played host to East Central, St. Francis, New Life Academy and Moose Lake-Willow River in the meet and they cleaned up on the competition.

Chelsea Johnson and Mary Cross were neck-and-neck coming across the finish line as the top two girl finishers. Johnson finished in 16:09 and Cross came in just behind her at 16:11 to sweep the top two spots. "Mary had a great race going step-for-step with Chelsea for the first two miles," Head Coach Ken Orwoll noted. "She had a good time on a hard course."

Kaylee Ryan, who is still battling a lingering injury, finished in fifth place with a time of 16:44. Kelsey Sorenson and Danielle Vitali finished in sixth and seventh place, respectively. Sorenson completed the course in 17:23 while Vitali crossed the finish line in 17:39. Madi Vukich completed CL's varsity run with a ninth place finish in a time of 19:02.

The finish from Vukich meant that all six of the girls varsity runners finished in the top 10, which was quite a feat for this group of runners. Orwoll summed it up in a simple way for Chisago Lakes. "It was a very fun day for the Wildcats," he said.

The finishes gave the Wildcats first place with a score of 21 points. Moose Lake Willow River was the second place team, over 45 points back at 67.

Boys

The biggest surprise of the day came when the boys matched the girls finish with a team championship and a one-two finish in the individual race. Josh Olinger and Andy Magnuson were the two 'Cats to cross the finish line first. Olinger earned the individual title with a time of 18:21, and Magnuson was nipping right on his heels with an 18:24. "Josh had a great day finishing first," Orwoll said. "We really need him to run as well as he did last year, and every race he seems to be getting stronger."

The boys weren't done raiding the top five spots, either. Caleb Gieske and Peter Tengwall finished in fourth and fifth place to give the Wildcats four of the top five finishers in the race. Gieske finished in 19:04 and Tengwall crossed the line in 19:18. Noah Rockenback rounded out the varsity scoring with a seventh place finish in 20:19. "Peter had a very good day, and he is closing the gap between hi and Caleb," Orwoll said.

The guys narrowly missed out on matching the girls feat of putting all six runners in the top 10. Riley Myers, who was the sixth runner across for the varsity team, finished in 20:53, which was good enough for 11th place in the race.

As a team, the 'Cats finished in first place with a score of 19. The point total left them 26 points ahead of second place St. Francis, who finished with 45 points. "This was the best race for the boys all season," Orwoll noted. "The home field advantage really seemed to help us today."

Swain Invitational

Riding high after their big home win, the Chisago Lakes cross country team had a tough task in front of them. Not only were they traveling up to Duluth for the annual Swain Invitational, which is home to one of the toughest cross country courses in the state, they were also facing some of the top competition in the state.

The girls ran the full varsity squad to challenge for the team title, but the competition was too much as Grand Rapids won the meet with 88 points. Chisago Lakes finished in 11th -- out of 23 teams -- with a score of 293. "Our 11th place finish doesn't look too impressive, but with some rest and a healthy squad, we should be one of the teams to beat in conference and sections," Orwoll said, noting that they were missing Ryan again because of an illness.

Johnson pushed herself to a great finish in te prestigious event, finishing in 11th place out of 156 runners with a time of 16:18. Cross kept her phenomenal sophomore season up by coming in 17th place with a time of 16:38.

Sorenson just edged into the top 50 with a 50th place finish in 17:30. Vitali earned the fourth Wildcat finish with a time of 18:57, which put her in 97th place overall. The varsity scoring was rounded out by Vukich, when she crossed the finish line in 19:33 in 118th place. "Overall everyone ran pretty well," Orwoll said. "They have been working hard and doing well all season. I'm getting excited about what they can do with some rest before the conference and section meets."

Orwoll noted that the meet gave him a good look at some of their section foes they'll be stacked up against a little later this year. Grand Rapids, who finished first in the meet, is incredible, according to Orwoll, but Duluth East and North Branch weren't very far ahead of Chisago Lakes at all.

Boys

Orwoll decided to run the boys differently, splitting the varsity up to be able to place the guys in there respective grades. With such a big meet, it's not uncommon to test the boys against the best at their age.

The best finish came from wunderkid Magnuson, who won the seventh and eighth grade meet with a time of 10:24, almost 25 seconds ahead of the second place finisher. Orwoll said that Magnuson is the first Wildcat to ever win an event at the Swain, regardless of age.

Tengwall finished 60th in the sophomore race with a time of 16:33. Olinger and Gieske both got off to fast starts in the varsity race, only to struggle when they hit the treacherous hills of Enger Park. "They just faded some at the end," Orwoll explained. "But, I felt like they really gave it their all with it being their third race in eight days." Olinger finished in 98th place with a time of 18:55 and Gieske finished in 124th with a time of 19:34.


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