It’s been a great rivalry with the Staples/Motley Cardinals for several years and it has been a toss up who will win when the boys go head to head. The Section 6A meet was held in Long Prairie with races going on all day due to COVID restrictions and only allowing four teams to race at a time. Once the gun fires, its “mano a’ mano”, which translates to man to man.
The Cardinals were going to have the number one spot with Emmit Anderson, the number one state ranked runner and we were planning to fill in the next three spots with Kyle Schill, Kade Runge, and Alex Salwasser. We were going to break up their next five with Shad and Reubens Swanson. We had everyone in the correct place and were counting on other teams to hopefully fill in some positions to push their runners back and that didn’t happen.
The Cardinals finished with 38 and Knights had 40. Both teams are victims of our own success. Both teams have been ranked #1 and #2 in the state all season and when you throw 26 teams into a race, you’d expect runners from other teams to fill in more spots.
Of the top 19 finishers of 166 racers, the Cardinals and Knights had 12 of them, that wasn’t going to be enough for us to beat them.
At the end of the day, the kids were thankful for just getting the opportunity to have our season and to race Cardinals one last time, as we beat them by two earlier in the season. Kade finished in 2nd, Kyle in 3rd, Alex in 8th, Shad in 11th, and Reubens in 16th. In a normal year, we would advance to the state meet where we would get another shot at beating them, but not this year due to COVID. Sophmore Peyton Hanson was our sixth across the finish line in 32nd place and Roman MIhailovschi in 40th.
In the last six seasons, the boys have four section titles and two second place finishes. Senior Kyle Schill has been a part of all of them. His running resume with the team is absolutely unbelievable. At state, the teams Kyle raced with have finished 4th, 5th, 8th, 2nd, and 2nd, and we believe this year we could have been on the podium again. It also includes a conference championship, overtaking the Perham Yellowjackets for the first time in 18 seasons. With all that on his running resume, his personal resume is even more impressive. He’s a straight A student and treats every single person in the school with respect. During this difficult season with COVID and things constantly changing, there hasn’t been a more positive leader on the team than him. Prior to the race, he hugged and thanked his coaches and that point for me, nothing else mattered.
Lexi Bright takes title
The WCA Knights finished their season successfully, taking second place as a team and Lexi Bright winning the title in a time of 19:10. Lexi had said the day before in practice that she was going there to win it. She had said the same thing the week before going into the conference meet and she also won the title there as well. She is so determined and such a competitor that when she says she is going to do something, she is usually right.
The girls’ team had a spectacular race, edging out state ranked Albany to get 2nd place, and if it were a normal year, they would have advanced to the state meet. Staples-Motley won the race with a score of 37, followed by the Knights with 82, Albany with 100 and Minnewaska with 101. Our race plan was to get through the first mile in good shape, and then to find purple jerseys (Albany). Everyone contributed to help us achieving our goal of qualifying for the nonexistent state meet.
One of things I love about our teams is their sense of accountability to each other. When they know Lexi is up front, they owe her that same effort. Macy Grosz was next for the Knights in 12th place, followed by Taylor Bennet in 16th, Terina Blascyk in 20th, Halle Foslien in 34th, Sydney Ulrich in 37th, and Alexa Blume in 80th. They all ran awesome to help us get a second place. It’s so hard when you aren’t racing against all the teams at once to know exactly where you are in that mix. During the race when it doesn’t seem like you have anyone to race, they still need to go hard because that will help in the end when all the team times are added together. We’ve been telling them all year that they are a good team but they don’t get a real sense of that when you only race in three team meets all year.
Our seniors and captains on the girl’s team are Brynn Fernholz and Chloe La Rue. Their roles have changed over the seasons, but no less important. They did exactly what they needed to do to help our new faces on the team and inexperienced racers reach our potential. In their six years on the team, the girls’ team has qualified for the state meet four of their six years. A pretty impressive run (pun intended) and a lot of hardware in WCA’s trophy cases.