State runners give it their all
November 10, 2023
Thousands of cross country fans descended upon University of Minnesota Les Bolstad Golf Course on Saturday, Nov. 4 for the annual Minnesota State High School League's boys and girls cross country state meet. The meet was a homecoming of sorts, as the cross country state meet was previously held at Les Bolstad 1964-90. The meet was then held at St. Olaf College in Northfield from 1991 through last season.
Mounds Park Academy junior Eddie Snider had to hold off hard-charging Will Ahrens, from Redwood Valley, in the downhill chute to the finish. Snider finished in a time of 15 minutes, 40 seconds, just one second ahead of Ahrens, who was considered one of the favorites this season.
Wrenshall senior Jack Riley raced to the best finish of all the Carlton County runners, placing 12th in the Class A boys meet, finishing in 16:30.1. It was his top finish in three trips to State, with the previous best being 57th place.
Raptors head coach Brenda Knudsen said Riley was ranked 22nd before the race, so greatly exceeded expectations.
He didn't surprise his coach, though.
"Jack ran a great race and steadily moved up throughout," Knudsen said, noting that he ran close to his PR: "A great performance at state."
Riley was three seconds off his personal record.
"I'm happy with it overall because 12th is pretty good, but I was hoping for top 10, so it is disappointing. It's also sad because it was my last high school race," he said. Riley plans to continue running in college, but he hasn't decided where yet.
On the girls side, St. John's Prep senior Olivia Pauly sailed to the individual championship, winning by an 11-second margin in 18:20.5.
In her third trip to state, Cromwell-Wright senior Emaleigh Olesiak also had a great day Saturday, taking 17th place in the Class A girls race, top among Carlton County runners. She ran the 5K race in 19:41.6.
The Raptors girls team, which qualified by finishing second at the Section 7A meet, finished the highest they ever have at State, in 11th place out of 16 teams. Brielle Simula placed 24th - beating her previous best time by four seconds. Several other Raptors girls ran personal bests as well.
"It was a great day for them," Knudsen said.
Riley, Olesiak and Simula achieved all-state honors by finishing in the top 25.
Nearby South Ridge sent both its girls and boys teams to the Class A state meet. The Panthers girls team, Section 7A champions, placed 13th at State, two spots behind their frequent competitors from Carlton/Wrenshall. The South Ridge boys team took 12th.
Cloquet sophomore Evan Rothemal and ninth-grader Andrew Shepherd both ran their first Class AA state meet.
Rothemal had placed sixth at the Section 7AA meet, and Shepherd came in two spots behind him, in eighth. At the state meet Saturday, Rothamel placed 70th, running the 5K in 17:07.7. Andrew Shepherd placed 76th in 17:13.1.
Running at State was a valuable experience for both underclassmen.
No Lumberjacks girls qualified for the state meet this year.