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Ball, Wetzstein run to Hudson Invite titles

Senior Jacob Ball, left, is all alone at the end of the boys' race at last Tuesday's Hudson Cross Country Invitational. Raider sophomore Katie Wetzstein closes in on the finish line to take first place in the girls' race at the Hudson Cross Country Invitational last Tuesday with a time of 15 minutes, 31.5 seconds, 11 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor. Photos by Bob Burrows

Hudson's cross country teams tuned up for Saturday's huge Roy Griak Invitational in St. Paul by turning in strong performances on their home course Tuesday at the Hudson Invitational.

Jacob Ball, Matt Rudquist and Ryan Kromer finished first, second, and fourth, respectively, in the boys race to lead the Raiders to a first-place team finish while Katie Wetzstein and Rachel Zachar took first and third in the girls' race as the Raider girls place third in the 10-team standings.

"The invitational was more competitive this year as the number of teams competing increased by five, and the increase came from Minnesota," Raider coach Don Krupa pointed out. "Most of the teams are getting ready for the big race on Saturday at the U of M, the Griak Invitational."

The Raiders' success continued on Saturday as the boys took 11th out of 49 teams in the Gold Division race while the girls placed 12th out of 53 in the Maroon Division. Wetzstein paced the girls with an eighth place individual finish while Ball led the boys by finishing 15th.

The Roy Griak Invitational is considered one of the largest high school cross country meets in the nation with teams from across the Midwest competing in two divisions.

Last Tuesday at Hudson Middle School, Ball won the boys' race with a time of 16 minutes, 46.9 seconds and Wetzstein took first in the girls' competition in 15:31.5 to give the Raiders a sweep of the individual titles at their only home meet of the season.

Rudquist was second for the boys in 16:56.1 and Kromer took fourth in 17:24.4.

"That shows how strong we run up front," Krupa said. "We are closing the gap with the next four runners, and hopefully that will happen through tournament time which starts in two weeks."

Martin Zais added a 14th place time of 17:46.9 and Nick Schumacher edged teammates Josh Robers and Aaron Avery for 21st place with a time of 18:33.5 to give the Raider boys a first-place total of 42 points, 21 points ahead of their nearest competitor, Blaine.

Robers ended up in 22nd place with a time of 18:46.0 while Avery finished 23rd in 18:49.

In the girls' race, Wetzstein led nearly from the start and won with a time of 15:31.5 while Zachar was third in 15:50.6. Cori Vought was next across the line in 26th place in 17:01 followed by Deven DuCharme in 30th place in 17:09 and Sarah Kehoe in 31st in 17:09.8.

Hastings won the girls' team title with 57 points and North Branch was second with 82 while Hudson finished third with 91.

The Raiders will compete at the Chippewa Falls Invitational Thursday, Oct. 1.

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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