Owatonna's cross country runners accomplished something they have never done before by winning the Big Nine titles recently at Brooktree Golf Course in Owatonna. The OHS girls won their seventh overall title. The Huskies boys captured their 12th overall championship. But this year was the first time the teams won the title in the same year.

There was a 14-year stretch from 1999 to 2012 where the boys or girls won the title every year, but they never both won the title at the same time, according to the Big Nine Conference website. Longtime OHS boys coach Dave Chatelaine mentioned on the AM 1390 KRFO Coaches Show Saturday morning that he believed it might be a first for OHS cross country. That sent me to the conference website to research the history.

In Thursday's girls race (October 8) Owatonna had the individual champ with Carsyn Brady. The other finishers were Jace Burtis (9th), Anna Cox (17th), Kaitlin Bruessel (18th), and Zinash Valen (24th). The top teams were Owatonna (69 points), Rochester Century (85), Northfield (85), and Mankato East (86). Full girls' results are available at Wayzataresults.com.

Huskies coach Dan Leer said on Saturday's Coaches' Show, "It was very satisfying...We lost our first meet to (Mankato) East and we've gone undefeated since then." Valen solidified the win with her finish, "who is usually our (No.) 2 girl. She really battled (Thursday) and at the end of the race she wound up passing several Century girls that was a key part to our win."

Friday's boys race featured Owatonna's top five runners all in the top 11, led by Preston Meier (3rd) and followed by Brayden Williams (5th), Connor Ginskey (9th), Jack Meiners (10th), and Trevor Hiatt (11th). All five earned All Big Nine honors.

In the team standings, OHS scored 38 points with Rochester Century at 56 and Mankato East at 77. Just recently Owatonna edged Century at a meet by a single point. See the full results of the Big Nine boys meet at Wayzataresults.com.

Chatelaine was especially pleased with the patience shown by the team and strong finish for Owatonna's 3-4-5 runners, "The big thing that really surprised us, at least me, was just the finish of our third, fourth, and fifth runners (Ginskey, Meiners, and Hiatt). Just how they were so close, almost all three of them made it in the top ten. We haven't had a performance like that for years."

Owatonna's has won girls titles in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2020. The OHS boys titles came in 1977, 1980, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2020.

The Section 1AA meet is Thursday, October 15 at Brooktree. The OHS boys run at 12 pm with Lakeville North, Lakeville South, and Rochester Century in the top heat. The OHS girls take to the course at 4 pm in the top heat with Century, South, and Farmington. The section meet will mark the end of the season as there is no state meet this year.


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