Sundberg, Ploeger lead Wolves at Milaca Early-Bird Meet

The Milaca cross country season began in typical fashion as the Wolves hosted their annual Early-Bird Invitational Monday at Stones Throw Golf Course.

The weather was warm (upper 80s), a strong field of teams was on hand and the competitors were fired up and ready for the 2012 season to begin.

“After a couple weeks of practice, everyone is anxious for that first meet,” said Milaca Coach Joe Wildman. “This meet is a good indicator of where you’re at as the season begins.”

St. Michael-Albertville, which had the largest contingent of runners in the meet, was right where it wanted to be at the end of the day as it won both the boys and girls team titles.

The Knights, with six runners in the top 15, won the boys title with a score of 33 points. Chisago Lakes was second with 92 points, Little Falls was third at 97, Albany placed fourth at 105,  Mora was fifth at 132, Big Lake was sixth at 155, Hinckley-Finlayson was seventh at 195, Rush City was eighth at 233, North Branch was ninth at 235, Becker was 10th at 247 and Pine City was 11th at 253. Milaca and Foley entered incomplete teams.

Foley senior Charlie Lawrence, one of the state’s top returning runners, got his season off to a great start as he won boys individual honors with a time of 15:56.9 over 5,000 meters.

Senior Brendan Sage of SM-A was second in 16:53.6 while Seth Hare of Albany was third in 17:06.6, sophomore Nathaniel Souther of Big Lake was fourth in 17:07.3 and sophomore Chase Cayo of SM-A was fifth in 17:32.6

Junior Cameron Sundberg paced Milaca as he placed 15th in 18:18.8. Sophomore Jacob Riebel was  33rd in 19:35.8, sophomore Bennett Lerud was 52nd in 21:09.5 and sophomore Dray Thomas-Ferry placed 77th in 23:56.8.

St. Michael-Albertville won the girls title with a score of 58, with Big Lake finishing second at 88 and Little Falls placing third with a score of 94. Chisago Lakes was fourth at 120, Albany placed fifth at 140, North Branch was sixth at 144, Mora was seventh at 162, Pine City was eighth at 165, Becker placed ninth at 169 and Hinckley-Finlayson was 10th at 206.

Milaca, Foley, Braham, Rush City and Mille Lacs Area entered incomplete teams.

Senior Noelle Olson of Big Lake won the girls individual title was a time of 14:39.0 over the 4,000 meter course. Sophomore Rachel King of SM-A was second in 15:25.5, Chisago Lakes senior Abbi Forsman was third in 15:32.2, senior Maddi Sjelin of SM-A was fourth in 15:35.0 and eighth-grader Rhianna Rinke of North Branch was fifth in 15:38.9.

Milaca sophomore Alex Ploeger placed 24th in 17:56.2, sophomore Irina Danilyuk was 35th in 18:21.3 and senior Kaija Crowe was 40th in 18:38.

Milaca’s boys and girls each placed second in the junior high races, which were 2,000 meters.

Mora edged Milaca in a tight race for boys junior high honors.

The Mustangs had a score of 60 points while Milaca had a score of 63, Little Falls was third at 69 and Big Lake was fourth at 89.

Eighth-grader Tyler Moore of Little Falls placed first in 6:45.7 while Mora seventh-grader Zach Garza was second in 7:05.5.

Eighth-grader Zack Korvela led Milaca as he placed 10th in 7:36.3. He was followed closely by eighth-grader Gabe Petty, who was 11th in 7:37.2, eighth-grader Sam Petty, who was 13th in 7:50.1, eighth-grader Mitch Garber, who was 14th in 7:51.4, and eighth-grader Brett Husman, who was 23rd in 8:08.3.

Little Falls won the junior high girls title with  score of 39 while Milaca was second at 63 and Big Lake was third at 68.

Seventh-grader Rebekah Olinger of Chisago Lakes won the race in 7:37.3 while seventh-grader Abigale Mathison of Milaca was second in 7:38.1

Milaca seventh-grader Allison Mathison was fourth in 7:50.5, eighth-grader Emma Bolt placed 14th in 8:21.1, eighth-grader Brandhi Whittmore was 30th in 9:11.5, eighth-grader Kalina Warner was 35th in 9:20.7 and eighth-grader Haily Stobb was 52nd in 10:36.5.

Milaca ninth-grader Lizzy Fordyce placed sixth in the 4,000-meter girls junior varsity race in 19:40 while ninth-grader Maria Palmquist was 28th in 22:53.

“Overall, I was very happy with how we ran,” said Wildman. “It was a great way to open the season.”

Milaca is at the Pine City Invitational Thursday, Sept. 6, at 4 p.m.