On the run

The ZM/KW cross country team dashes through the first part of its season.


Will Mueller

The sophomore girls race; running through the treacherous course up in Milaca, Minnesota.

The Zumbrota-Mazeppa-Kenyon-Wanamingo cross country team had a busy week with two meets in three days. For those who don’t know, Zumbrota-Mazeppa High School and Kenyon-Wanamingo High School have been combined into one cross country team and have been that way ever since the 1960’s, because of a shortage of runners in both schools. Their first meet, the week of 9/14, was in Pine Island, Minnesota at the Pine Island Golf Course on Thursday, September 19th. The Pine Island meet is a very important race within the season, because this is where a lot of people start improving their records from the beginning of the season. The Pine Island meet is a lot of people’s favorite course, because of the flat terrain. In the boy’s junior high race, the ZMKW boys finished 6th of 6 teams with the top runner being Masyn Hanson, who finished 24th overall and netting a time of 10 minutes and 43 seconds in 1.49 miles.

The ZMKW Junior High women’s team only had one girl competing, Gabrielle Knowlton. She finished 26th overall with a time of 12 minutes and 26 seconds in 1.49 miles, which was one of her best times this season. The JV/Varsity women’s team finished 7th out of 8 teams, which isn’t what the team wanted, but they are hoping to improve the next race . The top runner of that race was Hailey Grudem finishing in 32nd with a time of 24 minutes and 27 seconds in 3.11 miles. Finally, our JV/Varsity men finished 5th out of 10 teams. Two of the runners, Kayden Rodrick and Preston Ohm finished under twenty minutes. Kayden Rodrick finished in 18 minutes and 52 seconds while Preston Ohm finished in 18 minutes and 55 seconds, getting 14th overall and 17th overall. One of the best times they’ve had this season, getting under 20 minutes in a 5k for cross country is very special.


After a well-deserved rest on Friday, the ZMKW team was back in action on Saturday traveling 2 hours north to Milaca, Minnesota. The Milaca Mega Meet, as they call it, is home to one of the biggest meets west of the Mississippi, with over 5,900 runners attending each year. The Milaca weather was not too kind to the runners, with an early thunderstorm, scattered rain throughout the day, and mud all over the course. Most teams struggled with their times this week.

The team and the community is very proud of Natasha and her accomplishments”

— Will Mueller

Many of the runners ran different races because of so many people competing, they split up a lot of the races, so that there wouldn’t be too many people running in one race. The top 3 boys overall would be Preston Ohm, Kayden Rodrick, and Parker Miller with times: 20 minutes and 8 seconds, 20 minutes and 21 seconds, and 21 minutes and 8 seconds, respectively. The top 3 girls would be Natasha Sortland, Bobbie Rae Benson, and Hailey Grudem with times: 19 minutes and 13 seconds, 24 minutes and 24 seconds, and 25 minutes and 15 seconds, respectively. Natasha Sortland also got first overall in one of the girls’ varsity races and finished an astonishing 43 seconds ahead of second place.  Natasha has added another first place medal to her big collection of medals in cross country. The team and the community is very proud of Natasha and her accomplishments, it is not an easy feat to do.  The whole team was exhausted following this exciting week of races. However, they continue to power through and move on to the next set of races.