At left, senior Travis Flanders finished 87th our of more than 200 runners.
The Class A race for the boys' varsity boasted 10 of the top 12 ranked teams in the state, including the top-ranked Paynesville Bulldogs. The Bulldogs earned the top spot in the polls for the first time in the team's history, following their defeat of four-time defending state champion, Staples-Motley, a week earlier.
At Princeton, the Dogs managed to hold off all of the state's top competitors with the exception of Staples-Motley, who edged the Bulldogs by 32 points for the victory.
Senior Clayton Lang set the pace for the Bulldogs. He was second overall in the state-caliber meet, trailing only Ryan Davis of Carlton-Wrenshall.
"I stayed with the pack until there was about a mile left, and I decided that if I was going to get Davis I had to make my move. I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to hold on, but I caught up to him and then passed him going up the last hill, but he out kicked me at the end," said Clayton.
Clayton finished in 16:09, just three seconds behind Davis. He beat Staples-Motley's Jeff Brever, who has won the individual state title the last two years.
"Clayton ran the best race of his life," said coach Darrel Carstens.
Paynesville's next runner was Adam Utsch, who also came on late in the race. His strong finish put him in 13th place with a time of 16:55.
The third runner in the chute for Paynesville was Dan Pearson. His impressive time of 17:08 put him in 22nd place. "It was cold at first, but it got better towards the end of the race," commented Dan.
Jesse Rien was Paynesville's fourth runner, finishing 15 seconds after Dan in 34th place. Rien's consistent perfor-mances have been a very important part of this team's success this season.
Eric Korman was the team's fifth runner. He finished in 52nd place in 17:52, followed by Ryan Flanders six seconds later in 61st.
Travis Flanders finished 87th in 18:17, right on the heels of Glencoe-Silver Lake's Eric Rausch, who moved from Paynesville over the summer.
Glencoe-Silver Lake was fifth, and the Bulldogs' conference rival, St. Cloud Cathedral, was sixth.
Carstens said Staples-Motley started fast but the Bulldogs did well to gain ground as the race progressed. Second place is the top finish of a Paynesville team at the Princeton Invitational. Staples-Motley's victory will likely move them past Paynesville in the next poll. Carstens expects Paynesville to be second in the next poll. While the poll rankings are nice, the Bulldogs, who were ranked in the top five last year as well, have their sites set on a state berth and state trophy. "That's the main goal," Carstens said.
Carstens was pleased with how the team ran at the Princeton meet, but still thinks the team can improve as the season continues.
The Bulldogs are hosting their only home meet this year on Thursday at the Koronis Hills Golf Course. Fourteen teams are scheduled to compete.
The junior high race for boys will start at 4:30 p.m. The boys' varsity race will start at 4:50 p.m., and the boys' junior varsity race at 5:15 p.m.
Team standings (Top 5 of30 teams)
1. Staples -91
2. Paynesville -123
3. Plainview -161
4. Chisholm -207
5. Glencoe-Silver Lake -212
2. Clayton Lang -16:09
13. Adam Utsch -16:55
22. Dan Pearson -17:08
34. Jesse Rien -17:23
52. Eric Korman -17:52
61. Ryan Flanders -17:58
87. Travis Flanders -18:17
Junior varsity results
29. Scott Thompson -18:27
33. Riley Flanders -18:30
39. Tom Flannigan -18:38
58. Fred Stock -18:58
316. Andrew Jones -21:48
Eighth grade results
31. Jason Wendroth -12:28
53. Matt Mehr -12:53
139. Chris Utsch -14:26
Return to Sports Archives