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Nevis' Schuldt wins section title, Schroeder earns first berth

Tom Stambaugh was counting on coaching two runners at this year's state Class A boys cross-country meet.

Nevis sophomore Bryon Schuldt and senior Hunter Schroeder fulfilled their coach's wish at Friday's Section 8A meet at Bagley.

Schuldt captured the section title with a winning time of 17:44 over the 5,000-meter course at Twin Pines Golf Course while Schroeder finished seventh overall in 18:20 to qualify for the state meet. Nevis' Jordan Feder finished 89th in 22:47.

After the first 800 meters, Schuldt and Schroeder were behind about 30 runners. Both moved up to the top 10 spots by the mile mark. Schuldt took over the lead at the two-mile mark and held off Perham's Sam Stoll, who finished second in 17:50. Staples-Motley's Gunner Johnson was third in 17:54, Thief River Falls' Brendan Skime was fourth in 17:56, Perham's Keith Schornack finished fifth in 18:12, Staples-Motley's Jordan Bendson was sixth in 18:12, Schroeder finished seventh while Perham's Brandon Karels (18:21) and Bagley/Fosston's Luke Conger (18:26) followed.

When Perham (the No. 1-ranked team in the state) finished with 28 points to win its fourth straight section title and Staples-Motley placed second with 68 points, Schroeder was awarded the third individual state berth. Conger and Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton's Tyler Hennen (who placed 12th overall in 18:33) received the other two individual state berths.

"Bryon and Hunter worked so hard this year and ran fantastic all year. What I like about both kids is that they listen and trust me when I ask them to do things," said Stambaugh. "The one thing I have learned about Bryon is that he is as tough as any athlete I have coached or run against. Hunter ran the best race of his life. I thought if he was rested and ran well he could be close to the top 10. No one at that meet has worked any harder than Hunter has this year and he made it happen."

Schuldt, who has been ranked among the top runners in the state Class A ranks all season, will be making his second consecutive state trip after placing 12th last season. Both Nevis runners will be looking for all-state honors by finishing in the top 25 when the state Class A meet begins at 1 p.m. at St. Olaf College in Northfield.

"If Bryon is healthy, I would put his odds as good as anyone to win. I think there are three or four guys who can win and I think Bryon will be right in the front. It will be interesting to see how Hunter runs at state. His goal was to just get there. I think with a great race, he could challenge for all-state honors. That would take a great race, but he could do it," said Stambaugh. "We have by far the toughest section in the state so Bryon and Hunter have seen the toughest competition. I have had a great time working with these boys this year. They work hard, compete hard and listen well. I don't worry about them at state because I know whatever happens, they will do their best."

Panthers finish 11th

Taylor Kimball and Zac Haugland finished in the top 50 spots to lead Park Rapids to 11th place in the team standings.

Kimball finished 47th in 20:39 and Haugland was 49th in 20:40 as the Panthers finished with 338 points. Jake Waggoner (76th in 21:57), Jacob Hays (81st in 22:20) and Jared Storseth (85th in 22:54) rounded out the Panthers' team score. Sam Goebel (86th in 23:11) and Ryan McBrady (101st in 24:15) completed Park Rapids' team.

Of that group, only Haugland had previously competed in a section meet.

"I was so proud of the boys and their finish. It was a brutal race and none of those guys had ever run in such harsh conditions. Any section race after that one will probably feel pretty easy," said Park Rapids head coach Kerry Johnson. "The boys placed higher and higher as the season progressed. Now they know what it takes and the experiences they had this year will be there for them to build on. The future of the guys team is looking great."

United North Central fielded an incomplete team with Jonathan Miller (18th in 19:10), Luke Graham (111th in 24:49), Eric Aker (116th in 26:21) and Devon Tucker (117th in 26:23) competing for the Warriors.