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Benning wins Owatonna invite

Zack Benning did it again. The Hastings High School junior won another meet last week, winning the 12-team Ev Berg Invitational at Brooktree Golf Course in Owatonna.

"That was pretty incredible," coach John Dewall said. " We've never had a kid win that invitational. To be able to go out there and consistently, in all the meets, placed first or second and then win this invite, it's awesome. This is basically like winning the section meet. It's pretty much the same schools that are there for the section meet."

The strategy at the race was for Benning to be with the lead pack until there was about a half-mile left, then to make his move.

The strategy worked, as Benning was in a group of three leaders throughout the race. With a half-mile left, he broke away. Hunter Bailey from Winona came with him, but Benning was able to hold him off.

Benning won the race with a time of 15 minutes, 48.9 seconds.

Bailey finished with a time of 15:50.0. Trevor Capra of Rosemount finished third in 15:53.3.

"We are teaching the kids that it's not necessarily the fastest runner out there, but it's the smartest and the fastest," Dewall said. "I think Zack is learning there is a lot of strategy involved in racing. You don't just go out there and run. It's unbelievable to see him out there, finishing like that in all his races. It's pretty cool."

Benning is now the No. 8 ranked runner in the state.

Forrest Close was the second Hastings runner, finishing 47th in 17:42.8.

"He is having an unbelievable season," Dewall said. "He has been in our top group all season long. Boy has he stepped it up this year. He's looking phenomenal. We're impressed with how he is running."

Austin Reuter was 55th in 18:03.7.

"He has stepped it up too," Dewall said. "He has run really well the last two or three meets."

Christian Weiland finished 58th in 18:05.1. Closing out the varsity scoring was Jake Spitzack, who was 65th in 18:17.5.

Will Briercliffe also ran varsity, finishing 71st in 18:33.3.

As a team, Hastings placed 10th at the meet. There were 12 teams running.

Owatonna won the meet and Rosemount was second.


The Hastings girls were 10th, too.

Albert Lea won the girls meet with 75 points and Rosemount was second with 80.

Michaela Mills led the way for the Hastings team. She placed 29th with a time of 16:21.2.

Bri Strandberg was close behind, finishing 33rd in 16:27.0.

"That was Bri's best race of the season," Dewall said. "She's improving a lot here. That's really good to see."

Kiki Radke was 41st in 16:34.1.

Ciara Christensen finished 53rd in 16:55.6.

Rachel Peterson was 64th in 17:17.2. Quinn Myers was 77th in 18:02.6. Taylor Engstrom finished 80th in 18:56.7.