The determined Dogs confidently ran to victory with a score of only 76 points, the best score out of both the boys and girls Class A and AA races. The team effort put the Bulldogs 36 points ahead of runner-up Plainview's score of 112, and a full 59 points ahead of the previous four-time defending state champion Staples-Motley, who scored 135 points.
All-State senior captain Clayton Lang (picture at right) led the team in their unified stampede to first place. He ran the duration of the state meet with the front pack, and fought for the third position for much of the race. Through some shuffling of positions in the final mile of the race, Clayton came out of the woods in fourth place, setting the pace for the fifth and sixth runners. In a wild sprint to the finish, Clayton soared into the chute in sixth place with a time of 16:22. His finish was 23 seconds ahead of the former two-time defending individual state champion Jeff Brever of Staples-Motley.
Adam Utsch (Pictured below leading the pack) has battled with some of the state's most competitive runners at the team's second position all through the season. With his 19th place finish and time of 16:52, he brought down goliath Jacob Huebsch of Staples-Motley. "I knew we were in good shape when I turned the final corner and could see Brever just up ahead of me," said Adam.
Boys check the score sheets at the St. Olaf gym before the award ceremony.
Dan Pearson ran like a true state champion, quite possibly running the best race of his life. Four seconds behind Adam, his time of 16:56 put him in 22nd place to make him the third member of Paynesville's team to earn All-State honors. Additionally, his position put three Paynesville runners ahead of Staples' second runner.
Jesse Rien gutted out the 5000-meter race, finishing literally as the center of the team in the number four position. He finished in 44th place with a time of 17:22, beating out Staples' third runner and Plainview's fourth. "I knew I just had to keep going if we wanted a chance to win," said Jesse.
Eric Korman gave his best race for the team, finishing 54th in the state with a respectable time of 17:30. He filled the key fifth position for the team, clenching Paynesville's state victory. He finished only two seconds behind Staples' third runner, and was five seconds ahead of runner-up Plainview's fourth runner.
The team's sixth runner was Ryan Flanders, who finished 73rd in 17:54, trailing Staples' four and five runners by eight seconds but ahead of Plainview's fifth. "It all happened real fast," said Ryan.
Travis Flanders' race put him 80th for the team score, ahead of all but three of the top number seven runners in the state. "I'm glad to be part of such a close team," reflected Travis.
The success of this team would not be possible if it were not for the dedicated coaches of Paynesville cross country and the tradition that they have created. Section Coach of the Year, Darrel Carstens, has been leading the team for the last 28 years, Coach Rick Houske has been assistant coach for 21 years, and Coach Todd Spanier is a former Paynesville runner himself who has returned to bring new life to the team. The late coach Bill Ochs also played a major role in the development of the team in their young years, and the championship is dedicated in his name.
1. Paynesville -76
2. Plainview -112
3. Staples-Motley -135
4. United South Central-Wells -162
5. Warroad -181
6. Glencoe-Silver Lake -184
7. La Crescent -195
8. Esko -207
9. Chisholm -212
10. Saint Cloud Cathedral -214
11. Canby-Minneota-Lincoln -*290
12. Perham -290
13. Lk Crystal-Wellcome Mem -291
14. Pine City -29915.
Murray County Central -307
16. Mayer Lutheran -322
*Tie goes to position of sixth runner
6. Clayton Lang -16:22
19. Adam Utsch -16:52
22. Dan Pearson -16:56
44. Jesse Rien -17:22
54. Eric Korman -17:30
73. Ryan Flanders -17:54
112. Travis Flanders -18:49
Clayton Lang -2
Adam Utsch -8
Dan Pearson -10
Jesse Rien -25
Eric Korman -31
Ryan Flanders -44
Travis Flanders -80
(Individual qualifiers' places excluded)
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