CROSS COUNTRY: Cloquet boys team reflects on a great season, ending with State
November 8, 2019
As Cloquet senior runner Jesse Bahen crossed the finish line at the 2019 Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) state cross country meet, a feeling of contentment swept over him.
"I just felt like euphoria," said Bahen. "It was a great feeling after the race."
Bahen was among the seven runners from Cloquet who qualified as a team for the 2019 Class AA State Cross Country Meet Nov. 2 on the grounds of St. Olaf College in Northfield. He was also one of four seniors on a Cloquet team that accomplished many great things this season, led by its upperclassmen.
Though times were not great for Cloquet runners, Cloquet wasn't alone.
"In general, times were a little bit slower for everyone across the board," said first-year head coach Chandra Allen, "even the top runners from our section and state." This was nothing the Cloquet runners weren't used to coming into the race. In fact, despite the chilling winds, these were some of the best racing conditions the team had faced all season.
Senior Jordan Allen was the top boys Cloquet runner in the Class AA state meet, finishing in 100th place in a time of 16:55.1. The other boys runners finished as follows: Jesse Bahen, 135th (17:15.0), Sam Buytaert, 148th (17:20.0), Josh Sanders, 150th (17:21.1), Miles Fischer, 156th (17:31.8), Cale Prosen, 166th (17:47.6) and Dennis Osvold, 171st (18:04.6). As a team they placed 16th.
Although not accomplishing what they wanted to at the state meet - to crack the top 15 - the boys had one of the best seasons in program history, and have nothing to hang their heads about, especially since they are consistently among the smallest schools in the Class AA state meet.
The team surprised many by what they were able to accomplish, including their coaches.
"Winning Swain was a really nice surprise," coach Allen said. "They did really well at Milaca. I think they accomplished some things as a team that they maybe didn't think they were capable of ... they all had high expectations."
Jordan Allen credited hard work for their success.
Bahen agreed. "It's been working harder than we usually do," he said.
This hard work has inspired runners like Fischer, a freshman, to continue working hard in order to ensure the team's success for years to come.
Fischer said his older teammates helped him a lot.
"They give me advice before each race, they help me warm up and cool down, and give me race tips and are just overall really supportive and helpful and awesome," he said.
As younger runners, this year's seniors learned a lot from those who came before them.
"Conner Denman, Issac Boedigheimer, Jean-Luc Genereau, Parker Sinkkonen, John Waltjer, they helped us all through middle school," Osvold said.
"I looked up to those guys and they worked their butts off and, I guess, they led it to what the team is now," Allen added.
This group of seniors has high hopes and expectations for the younger runners as they carry on the winning culture of Cloquet running. "I just expect them to keep, you know, plugging away," top runner Jordan Allen said. "This is a sport built on tradition so I guess it's their job now to keep it going."
Cross country is a tough sport. Sometimes people collapse, throw up, or cough nonstop at the end of a race. Through it all, his team found a way to a way to work hard, while still enjoying the sport.
"It was really fun, I really enjoyed it," said Fischer reflecting on the season and his first experience at the state meet.
"Cross country's all about having fun and when you're having fun, you're running hard," Osvold added. "You know, just working hard, that's all that cross country takes."
The seniors reflected on the year, their high school careers, and their last race together.
"It's bittersweet, you know," Osvold said. "Races hurt but, you know, it's sad. I wouldn't trade it for the world."
"I am just proud of what the team has become over these last three years," Allen said.
Look for younger runners such as Ficher, sophomores Sam Buytart and Cal Prosen, plus a strong junior class with runners such as Josh Sanders and Benjamin Bauer to be key leaders as this team aims to compete at state for years to come.