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Runners stake claim on State


November 1, 2019

Jana Peterson

Cloquet runners Harmony Tracy (bib 476) keeps pace with the race leaders near the beginning of Thursday's Section 7AA race, while teammate Amelia Allen (468) is close behind. Tracy finished in fifth place, and Allen finished in 15th, which was good enough to send both girls to this Saturday's Class AA State meet.

Great cross country runners are built. While genetics probably helps, it's the miles and miles of running that really makes the difference.

But a little strategy helps as well, first-year Cloquet coach Chandra Allen implied in an interview after the Section 7AA cross country meet Thursday, where the Lumberjacks boys team took second and the girls took third. The boys are headed to the 2019 Class AA Cross Country State Meet as a team for the fourth year in a row, while the girls are sending their top two finishers.

Knowing they had a strong boys team, the Cloquet coaches decided to wait a week to "taper," which she explained as basically running fewer miles with a little more speed, and less effort.

"We had a pretty good idea that the boys would be able to go as a team without tapering," she said. "So we intentionally didn't taper down before sections so we could do that this week - so they can run their best at state."

That calculated risk has paid off so far. Although perennial powerhouse Forest Lake took first place with 48 points, Cloquet wasn't too far behind with 75 points, compared to third place Cambridge-Isanti with 130.

Jordan Allen finished first for the Cloquet boys, taking third place with a time of 16:33.2. It will be the senior's third trip to state and the fourth time in a row for the boys team as a whole.

"It was a little rough, I'm not gonna lie," he said after the race, struggling to overcome a persistent cough for a good 15 minutes after the finish. "I've been feeling tired lately and didn't get much sleep this week so that didn't help much."

That might be an understatement. In addition to fighting a cold, Allen is also one of the leads in the CHS fall musical, "The Little Mermaid," so he's busy with school work, running and theater practices well into the night most days after classes are finished.

The boys team is incredibly deep, however, so there isn't as much pressure on any one runner, Jordan said, calling it "a solid group."

A look at the section race results confirm that. CHS senior Jesse Bahen finished in 11th place, while sophomores Cale Prosen and Sam Buytaert took 14th and 19th, respectively. Freshman Miles Fischer took 28th, junior Josh Sanders finished 36th and senior Dennis Osvold came in 44th.

On the girls side, two first-year team members advance to state after the team took third place, just missing the cutoff. Harmony Tracy took fifth place in 19:16.5, and Amelia Allen took 15th in 19:56.4 to qualify for state. (Members of the top two teams plus the next eight individuals advance to the state meet.)

Section 7A

Carlton County runners from Esko, South Ridge, Moose Lake/Willow River, Carlton/Wrenshall and Cromwell/Wright raced in the Section 7A meet Thursday morning at the Cloquet Country Club.

Two runners from Cromwell/Wright will advance to the state Class A meet on Saturday: eighth grader Emaleigh Olesiak, who took fifth place in the girls race, and freshman Noah Foster, who took sixth place for the boys.

Longtime Cardinals cross country coach Pete Koenig credited a great team vibe and the previously mentioned miles of running for his young runners' success.

Jana Peterson

An exhausted and exhilarated Lumberjack Sam Buytaert crosses the finish line Thursday with hands to the sky.

"Both Emaleigh and Noah put in great summers, with Noah over 300 miles and Emaleigh over 200 miles," Koenig said. "That's where the base training comes in. We can tweak that over the season, but you've got to get those miles in early and it showed today."

He added that Olesiak has trained hard all season with the boys team to push herself even harder.

Both runners said the course was good for running fast Thursday, and they were highly motiviated. Olesiak PR'd by more than a minute, and Foster said he improved his best time by over 30 seconds.

"At the beginning of the year I told myself, under 20 minutes," Olesiak said after the race. "This was possibly my last chance, so I just went out there and ran as hard as I could."

"I just wanted to go to state," Foster said.

The State Meet is Saturday, Nov. 2, at St. Olaf College in Northfield. Class AA girls start at 10 a.m. with the boys at 11 a.m. while the Class A runners race at 1 and 2 p.m.


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