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Boys state cross country notebook: Kingsland's Hubka caps off impressive prep career with top-10 finish

In his last high school race, Hubka laid down a personal best time to collect his second consecutive all-state honor.

MSHSL state cross country
Kingsland senior Garrison Hubka (right) crosses the finish line during the Class A state meet on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022 at St. Olaf's College in Northfield. Hubka finished 13th.
Alex VandenHouten / Post Bulletin
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NORTHFIELD — Entering the final two weeks of his stellar prep career, Kingsland senior distance runner Garrison Hubka knew this was the time to lay it all on the line.

It showed at the Section 1A Championships, as Hubka captured the section title that had alluded him for so long.

But as it would turn out, he would save his best for last.

The eighth-grader Yotter and the senior Majerus shouldered the load, turning in impressive performances to cap off a solid day for the Tigers. Overall, it was good day for the area.

In his final high school cross country race, Hubka finished in a personal best time of 16 minutes and 29.72 seconds to place ninth at Saturday's MSHSL Class A boys state cross country meet at St. Olaf College in Northfield.

Sauk Centre senior Brandon Kampsen won the individual title (15:49.44), while Heritage Christian just edged Luverne 99-102 for the program's first team title.

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As for Hubka, he was at a loss of words after Saturday's race.

"This is exactly what I dreamed of," Hubka said. "I mean, I haven't PR'd in over a year. The last couple of weeks have been pretty low, tapering. I came into this race, relaxed."

Relaxed and confident, Hubka got off to a blazing start.

In fact, at 10:37.82, Hubka recorded his fastest two-mile time ever. That's when he knew he was on the verge of doing something special.

"I just told myself, I'm going to finish this thing off," he said.

He did just that, vaulting from 13th up to ninth with an impressive final 1.1 miles to give him his second all-state honor and first top-10 state finish. He placed 13th last year.

It was the right away to go out.

"This is it, I guess," Hubka said with a sad look. "At least until college next season. It was a good way to go out."

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State cross country meet
Winona Cotter junior John Fritts (right) and seventh-grader Erik Semling (left) warm up before the Class A state cross country meet on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022 at St. Olaf's College in Northfield.
Alex VandenHouten / Post Bulletin

Cotter's Fritts also all-state

Hubka wasn't the only runner from the area to earn all-state honors.

Winona Cotter junior John Fritts was also Class A All-State after placing 22nd with a time of 16:40. The top 25 in each class is named all-state.

"It was a great race for me," Fritts said. "I felt really good after the first mile, then I saw my 5:20ish time and was like if I could keep this up, we'll be looking good."

His next mile mimicked the first before securing his spot in the top-25 by surging up 20 spots in the final 1.1 miles.

Yet, being the only upperclassmen among Cotter's varsity seven, Fritts was most proud of the way the young Ramblers as a team performed. He was more than happy with Cotter's 11th place finish as a team.

"We're really proud of how the season ended," Fritts said. "We wanted to go out and make state this year and that's what we did. We came to state and all ran good times. We're just all so proud of each other too."

K-M's Obst, Mayo's Gwaltney just miss top 25

MSHSL state cross country
Mayo junior Ryan Gwaltney competes during the MSHSL Class AAA boys state cross country meet on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022 at St. Olaf's College in Northfield.
Alex VandenHouten / Post Bulletin

Kasson-Mantorville freshman David Obst and Mayo junior Ryan Gwaltney just missed out on the top-25 in their respective classes.

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Obst placed 27th (16:39.38) to lead all area runners in Class AA. He was in position throughout the race, sitting at 24th after two miles.

"I just tried to stay with the top-25, because I wanted to get there," Obst said. "I was on pace for 16 minutes after the first mile, but just kept slowing down."

The performance capped off a really good season for Obst, who started it with a goal in mind of finishing under 17 minutes.

He not only did that, but also became the HVL champion as well as the Section 1AA champ. All as a freshman.

Gwaltney, meanwhile, admitted he started a bit too fast but was happy with the time he threw down in a very tough Class AAA.

He finished 32nd (16:09.32) to improve on a 96th place finish last year.

"I'm happy with it," Gwaltney said. "My junior year, really just hoping next year to come out here and hopefully the place even higher and just keep improving. But overall happy with it this year, better than I did lat year."

Other top-60 area finishers

Other top-60 area finishers on the boys side included Hubka's senior classmate Cole Kruegel (40, 17:04.33), Pine Island senior Braxton Osterhaus (43, 17:05.79), Lake City junior Tim Cooper (50, 17:11.05), all in Class A. Leo Lohnes finished 37th (16:51.68) and Red Wing senior placed 44th with a PR time of 16:54.98. Lohnes helped Winona place 10th out of 16 teams with 227 points. Mankato East won the team title in Class AA with 111 points.

Link to full results from the MSHSL state cross country meet

Alex VandenHouten has been a sports reporter at the Post Bulletin since Sept. 2021. He loves to go hiking, biking, snowshoeing and just simply being outdoors with his wife Olivia. Readers can reach Alex at avandenhouten@postbulletin.com.
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