Knights Win Both Varsity Races in Long Prairie
By John Van Kempen - Long Prairie, MN
The West Central Area Knights traveled to Long Prairie Monday for a large cross country meet basically consisting of the 25 section teams that will race there to earn a trip to state in late October.
The Knights had an incredible day with Alex Salwasser winning the junior high race and Chase Veldhouse winning the junior varsity race. Then to keep things rolling, Lexi Bright won the girls varsity race and Jacob Bright was runner up in the boys’ varsity race. “We couldn’t be more proud of how the kids performed,” said WCA Head Coach John Van Kempen. “I’ve said all along how much we like the kids we have and not because they can run but because they are really good people to be around every day. They come to practice and put in the work and the miles to be successful on race day.”
With a few state ranked runners in the field, Lexi Bright ran a great race, letting the ranked kids take the lead for the first half until she had to unleash herself and finish in front of #5 ranked Kira Sweeney of Staples/Motley. Lexi ended up winning by 25 seconds. The Knights next three girls, Teagan Nelson (10th), Bryn Fernholz(12th) and Ella Van Kempen (16th) ran as a pack throughout much of the race until the homestretch. Chloe LaRue was next in 29th and for the top 5 all to be in the top 30 of the 150 kids racing was a remarkable showing for WCA. The Knights finished with 60 points and ahead of the second place team by 40. Kennedy Porterin her second varsity race of the season was next in 45th place and Steph Tomswas 79th.
The boys also finished in first place by 38 points over the second place team. “To have one of your teams get first in large meet is great, but to have both teams is something we can be extremely proud,” said Coach Van Kempen. “We went in today wanting to compete well with the top teams in our section.”
Jacob Bright again led the charge and Jack Van Kempen (11th), Kyle Schill(16th) and Kade Runge (20th) ran together as a pack. The Knights fifth runner was newcomer to the sport Kaleb Getz who finished in 43rd. “Jack and Kyle have given us some pretty gutty performances this season to keep us in contention,” said Van Kempen. “Reubens Swanson was next in 66th and Hunter Mickelson was in 77th of the 164 racers. We really are lucky to have so many kids who can interchange and fill in for us in case someone has a bad day. Our goal for us as a team is for each kid to reach their potential and then whatever happens we can live with. I don’t believe we are there yet and it will still take commitment and effort from everyone every day.”