Austin’s Folken gets first career cross country win in Hayfield

Published 2:09 am Friday, September 11, 2009

HAYFIELD — Good things come to those who wait, and Austin cross country runner Christian Folken had waited long enough.

The senior runner came through with his first career victory at the Oaks Golf Course in Hayfield Thursday as he burst through the finish line about 30 seconds ahead of the pack with a time of 17 minutes, 13 seconds.

“It’s surreal (to finally win one), I still haven’t really let it set in. It’s a good accomplishment and I’m happy with it,” Folken said. “It was a fun race. Coach told me to go easy the first mile and do whatever the rest of the way. I was relaxed after the first mile and took it from there.”

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Folken kept his pace throughout and was able to finish in stride.

While the Austin boys team had to settle for second place, just two points behind Byron, there were two exciting finishes down the stretch. Austin’s Tim Erickson chased down Nate Conroy to take third place by two seconds and Austin’s Abajado Ojullu also made a last second pass to take fifth.

“Coach told me and Abajado to get second and third at the two mile mark and we were a ways back,” said Erickson, a senior. “I knew the Hayfield kid was fourth and I wanted to get that extra spot. It motivated me to get my kick on.”

Ben Bachmeier finished 10th for the Packers, but the placing of the fifth runner cost them a chance to win the meet.

“Our top four guys are running well,” Austin head coach Tony Einertson said. “We’ve just got to get our fifth runner up there, that was the difference today. It wasn’t because of our top four, it was because they were way ahead of our fifth runner. Until we close that gap, we’re going to be an average team.”

Einertson was glad to see Folken come through with his first win.

“I told him to let somebody else dictate the pace early on,” he said. “It’s a good thing for him and it’s fun to see him smiling and leading our team.”

The Austin girls had just one runner in the top 15 and that was Martha McDermott, who took 15th.

“The girls ran fine,” Einertson said. “It’s a hot day and they’ve got to have a little confidence in themselves.”

The girls were without their top runner, freshman Haley Splinter, who injured her foot on Tuesday and will be out of action for at least a week.

“We need her for sections and the Big Nine meet and there’s no point in pushing her any more than we need to,” Einertson said.

Pacelli’s lone varsity runner, Michael Bergstrom, took 22nd place, finishing with a time of 20:20 that was 21 seconds faster than his time last week.

The Shamrocks had three JV runners hit personal best times — Logan Finnegan, Jonathon Koppa, and Madeline Kraemer.

“I feel we are making improvements,” Pacelli head coach Jim Parlin said. “Our young girls team is showing great promise I feel Madeline and Annie Holtz ready to make the move to varsity races.”

The Hayfield boys had two runners in the top 15 — Nathan Conroy and Michael Kuhn and their girls team had two in the top 10 — Courtney Severson and Alexis Anderson.

The Blooming Prairie boys had two top 15 finishers in Adam Driessen and Jake Elwood and two girls in the top 15 in Jenna Paulson and Kendra Boecker.


Team scores

1. Byron 37

2. Austin 39

3. John Marshall 72

4. Hayfield 95

5. Blooming Prairie 106

Austin runners: Christian Folken (first, 17:13); Tim Erickson (third, 17:52); Abajado Ojullu (fifth, 18:07); Ben Bachmeier (10th, 18:24)

Pacelli runners: Michael Bergstrom (26th, 20:20)

Hayfield runners: Nathan Conroy (fourth, 17:54); Michael Kuehn (11th, 18:32)

Blooming Prairie runners: Adam Driessen (14th, 18:53); Jake Elwood (15th, 18:59)


Austin runners: Martha McDermott (15th, 18:14)

Hayfield runners: Courtney Severson (sixth, 17:25); Alexis Anderson (eighth, 17:41)

Blooming Prairie runners: Jenna Paulson (11th, 17:50); Kendra Boecker (14th, 18:05)