'Perseverance' prevails for 7A girls winner
November 4, 2022
It was hard to know who was more excited after the Section 7A girls cross country race last week: South Ridge champion Evelyn Brodeen, or her grandmother Lauri Brodeen.
The proud grandma said she had found the perfect Bible verse for her granddaughter. "Hebrews 11:1 says 'Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,' so for the last two days I've been texting her, calling her, sending her pictures with that verse," she said. "Every time that she passed me on a corner, I would just shout out 'Run with perseverance! This is your race.'"
The younger Brodeen took that advice, emerging from a group of four runners to win the 7A race in 19 minutes, 42.8 seconds.
"I started behind them all but we got to like 800 feet left and it was me and Ely," Eveyln Brodeen said. "Then I ran ahead at the last."
Brodeen, a junior, finished just over 2 seconds ahead of Ely eighth-grader Molly Brophy, who placed second to a South Ridge runner for the second year in a row. Last year's winner, Addison Burckhardt, finished in 18th place this year.
Oct. 27 was a banner day for many runners in Carlton County and nearby South Ridge, which combines with three other schools for cross country, including North Woods, which Brodeen and the Burckhardts attend, Cherry and Northeast Range.
In the boys race, Cromwell-Wright senior Noah Foster cruised to first place in the boys Section 7A race for the second year in a row.
Foster led from the beginning of the race, pulling ahead of the pack seconds after the starting gun went off at Lester Park golf course in Duluth. He only increased the distance between himself and other runners as the race climbed up and then back down the hilly golf course.
He's learned to handle running alone.
"I'm just running off my own field, just trying to go as hard as I can," Foster explained after the race, which he completed in 16:16.4.
Cromwell-Wright head coach Pete Koenig said Foster is the real deal. He has qualified for the state meet every year of high school - although the state meet was canceled his sophomore year - and usually racks up more than 300 miles in training every summer. He ran half that this summer due to a knee injury; his knee feels fine now, he said. Foster stops training only to play basketball in the winter, before running track in the spring.
"To be an extraordinary runner, you have to have natural ability, you have to have the mental ability to use it; and during races, there's a fortitude piece," Koenig said. "You have to push, and have that willingness to get out there and do it again and again and again."
Foster finished 57 seconds ahead of South Ridge sophomore Alex Burckhardt, who sprinted across the finish line to take second place in 17:13.4. Eskomos senior Benjamin Meysembourg placed third in 17:21.5 and the Rebels' Murray Salzar took fourth place in 17:24.7.
With Rebels teammate Shawn Bailey in 10th place plus good times from the next three runners, the Moose Lake/Willow River/Barnum boys team took second place at the 7A meet, so the entire varsity team will race at state.
Rounding out the individual state qualifiers from the Carlton County area is Jack Riley, a junior on the Carlton/Wrenshall Raptors team.
Hopes are high for the Saturday, Nov. 5 Class A State meet at St. Olaf College in Northfield.
Foster took fourth place last year. This year he aims to win it all. It won't be easy.
Koenig said they've looked at some of the other runners: two or three are running in the 15:40 range, then there's a group around 16 minutes. Right now Foster's fastest time is about 16:04.
"I think it's gonna be a war," Koenig said. "I think you're gonna have about 10-15 guys who say, 'I can go with this,' and they're gonna challenge each other the entire race. It's going to be interesting to see what happens."
Saturday will mark Meysembourg's second trip to State. He's ready, too.
"I'm not nervous," he said. "I'd like to make a top 15 or top 10 finish."
Rebels boys reach state
The entire Carlton/Wrenshall Raptors girls cross country team placed first in the girls race, surprising themselves, said coach Brenda Knudsen. She revealed she'd found the team a little teary-eyed after the Thursday, Oct. 27 race - worried they hadn't even gotten second place after winning the previous year.
"It was actually a shock when they realized they won," she said. "It was quite an emotional rollercoaster there, quite the day."
It was a tight race, with only 5 points separating the top three teams, but the Raptors came out on top with 75 points, followed by Ely with 76 and South Ridge with 80.
Brielle Simula was the top Carlton County runner in the girls race, taking sixth place. Although Simula was the only Raptor girl to crack the top 10, the team had five runners in the top 25, with Ruth Sandstrom in 12th, Sara Cid in 16th, Abby Cid in 22nd and Isabel Riley in 24th. Other Raptors runners included Lucy Stevens and Teagen Tessier.
"The girls showed up on the right day and defended their title," Knudsen said. "Every place mattered."
Although only the top five runners score for a team, the sixth and seventh runners can make a difference by beating runners in the top 5 for other teams.
"I'm so proud of them," Knudsen said of her combined team of four home-schoolers and one Wrenshall and two Carlton students - a David compared to some Goliath teams that see 20-40 kids come out for the team.
What is the secret of their success?
"Being an underdog has bonded them," Knudsen said.
She's also excited about the boys team. Junior Jack Riley is making his second trip to State and the other five boys on the team are "only going to get faster," she said, naming Karl and David Tuttle, Anders Erickson, AJ Olesen and Gavin Gibson.
"They all shaved minutes off their times this year," she said. "I'm very proud of them."
The Moose Lake/Willow River/Barnum boys team is headed to State for the first time since 1999, after taking second (63 points) to Greenway-Nashwauk-Keewatin (38 points) in the boys race.
Scoring members of the Rebels boys team include Murray Salzar (fourth place), Shawn Bailey (10th), Elliott Wasche (15th), Eli Berger (19th) and Eoghan Heaslip (20th). Other runners included Daniel Mikrot and Gavin Thiry.
"They worked hard. It's good to see they were rewarded with a trip to State," said Rebels head coach Adam Whelan, adding that the team knew they had a chance at second place and went for it.
They peaked at the right time, Whelan said.
Bailey is the only runner with state experience, having gone last year with Joseph Mikrot, who graduated. Salzar didn't start running until his sophomore year. Whelen described the now senior as "determined and gritty."
"I think he cracked 19 minutes for the first time at sections last year," Whelan said. "This year he came in and said he wanted to get to State and suddenly he's running in the 17s."
He said the team would like to beat the 15th place the 1999 team got at state. Although they aren't sending any girls to State this year, Whelan said Rebels freshman Brooklyn Wasche missed a trip to State by just two spots.
Senior Miles Fischer is the sole Lumberjack headed to this year's Class AA state meet, after taking second place at the Section 7AA meet in Hibbing on Thursday, Oct, 27, finishing in 16:50.1.
"He ran the race he needed to run to get down there," said Cloquet head coach Chandra Allen.
Qualifying for the fourth time in four years - like Foster, with no meet his sophomore year - Fischer heads to Northfield with a good idea of what to expect. Allen said Fischer would like to get a personal record and place in the top 20 at State.
Two other runners were very close to their own trip to State in Northfield.
"Calvin Snesrud ran really well and just missed going by a few seconds," Allen said. "Bri LaCore missed going by a second.
"They're in a good position for next year."