Ernie Mattson churned to the Section 4AAA individual championship on Wednesday and Luke Williams placed third, leading White Bear Lake to a runner-up team finish that’s good for advancement to the state meet.

Mattson, a senior, hit the tape in 15:29 at the University of Minnesota’s Kolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights. Williams, a sophomore, was third in 16:07.

“It was fun watching Ernie and Jonathan Roux from Stillwater battle it out throughout the race,” coach Dan Kovacich reported. “Ernie eventually took control and made a move with 1,000 meters left.”

The five counting scores also included senior Mike Hoffman in ninth place (16:38), senior Sador Wondeson 16th (17:06) and freshman Isaac Kolstad 17th (17:16). Their 6-7 runners were close behind: freshman Vaughn Larson in 19th (17:32) and Junior Dru Pingale 21st (17:40).

Hoffman, Wondeson and Kolstad had personal bests.

Stillwater was champion with 33 points, followed by White Bear Lake 46, Woodbury 70, St. Paul Central 114, Tartan 150, North St. Paul 176 and St. Paul Harding 229.

Mattson was the first Bear section champion in the 20 years Kovacich has coached. Kovacich has had 13 state team qualifiers in his 15 years as head coach.

“What makes Ernie great is his off season training,” Kovacich said. “For the past three seasons, Ernie has put in between 400 to 600 miles over the winters and summers — averaging 40 to 60 mile weeks.”

This is the first year of a three-class system, resulting in the Bears’ section having half the teams it formerly had.

The Bears will run at the state meet Nov. 6 at St. Olaf College.

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