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Panthers excel against state's best

Isaac Overmyer, who advanced to his third straight state meet as the Section 8A runner-up, repeated as an all-state runner after finishing fourth in 16:00 at Saturday’s state Class A meet at St. Olaf College.1 / 2
Lydia Kantonen (42), who finished second at the Section 8A meet, placed 43rd in 15:50 at Saturday’s state Class A meet.2 / 2

     Isaac Overmyer and the Park Rapids girls cross-country team were focused on surpassing their rankings entering Saturday’s state Class A meet at St. Olaf College in Northfield.

     Overmyer entered his third state meet ranked No. 7 in the state while the Panthers entered their fourth state meet in the last five years unranked in the latest state Class A polls.

     Both surpassed those rankings as Overmyer earned all-state honors for the second year in a row by placing fourth overall in the boys race while Park Rapids finished 10th out of 16 teams in the girls race.

     Overmyer capped off his junior season by covering the 5,000-meter course in 16:00, which was his personal-best time. Perham senior Keeghan Hurley won the state title in 15:36. Waseca junior Shane Streich was second in 15:50 and Rochester Lourdes senior Ian Torchia was third in 15:56.

     Rounding out the top 10 were Perham senior Jayden Cullen (fifth in 16:09), Long Prairie-Grey Eagle senior Derek Warner (sixth in 16:18), Minnehaha Academy junior Ephraim Bird (seventh in 16:20), Holdingford junior Andrew Zachman (eighth in 16:20), Redwood Valley senior Ryan Phillips (ninth in 16:25) and Perham junior Billy Beseman (10th in 16:26).

     Entering state, Hurley was the top-rated runner among Class A schools while Streich (No. 3), Torchia (No. 2) and Bird (No. 4) were ranked ahead of Overmyer. Cullen was rated No. 8, Beseman was rated No. 9 and Phillips was rated No. 10. St. Paul Academy junior Mike Destache, who was rated No. 5, finished 11th in 16:30 while Minnehaha Academy senior Ethan Wagner, who was rated No. 6, finished 13th in 16:37.

     Overmyer, who clocked a 16:11 to finish second at the Section 8A meet, finished 26th in 16:56 in his state debut as a freshman and 10th last year in 16:14 to earn all-state honors.

     “Isaac ran a great race. He likes to reel people in as he runs and we talked about how he should continue to do that, but to not let out too much line. He kept the leaders in sight and he picked off those he could. If he would have had a few more meters, he would have placed third. He was so strong at the end,” said Park Rapids head coach Kerry Johnson. “There is a great deal of pressure being a ranked runner and one people expect to do well. I was so happy for him that he handled the pressure well and that he placed even higher than his ranking.”

     In the girls meet, the Panthers fulfilled a goal by placing in the top 10 with 244 points.

     Freshman Lydia Kantonen led the Panthers by placing 43rd overall in 15:50 while seventh grader Kendra Coborn was 85th in 16:11, sophomore Megan Olson finished 91st in 16:15, freshman Ellery Overmyer was 106th in 16:28 and sophomore Abby Mueller was 161st in 17:45. In the team standings (which eliminates all the individual state qualifiers), Kantonen was 15th, Coborn was 37th, Olson was 42nd, Overmyer was 52nd and Mueller was 98th. Rounding out the Panthers’ varsity were freshman Madison Steffel (162nd overall in 17:47) and sophomore Tayah Otterness (171st overall in 18:35).

     At the section meet, Kantonen clocked a 16:02, Coborn clocked a 16:37, Olson clocked a 16:11, Overmyer clocked a 16:25, Mueller clocked a 17:40, Steffel clocked a 17:10 and Otterness clocked an 18:37 as the Panthers finished second behind Perham, which was rated No. 3 entering the state meet.

     Only three of those runners had competed at state prior to Saturday. Olson was the team’s No. 3 runner by finishing 99th overall in 16:37 and Mueller was the team’s No. 7 runner by finishing 135th overall in 17:32 as part of Park Rapids’ 2011 state team while Otterness qualified as an individual last season and placed 104th in 16:22.

     Annandale lived up to its No. 1 ranking by winning the state title with 85 points. Lac qui Parle Valley, which was rated No. 8 entering state, finished second with 113 points while Perham finished third with 138 points. Also finishing ahead of the Panthers were No. 2 Waseca with 144 points, No. 6 Holy Family with 154 points, No. 5 St. Cloud Cathedral with 171 points, No. 9 Luverne with 185 points, Spectrum with 222 points and Lake City with 232 points. Park Rapids finished ahead of No. 4 Dover-Eyota (which finished 11th with 248 points), No. 10 St. Paul Academy (which finished 12th with 253 points) and No. 7 Fairmont (which finished 14th with 300 points).

     Cannon Falls senior Emi Trost won the state title by covering the 4,000-meter course in 14:40. Trost was the top-ranked Class A runner in the state.

     The 10th-place finish was another solid performance for the Panthers at state. Park Rapids finished fifth with 190 points in 2009, 15th with 334 points in 2010 and shared 11th place with 247 points in 2011 in the last three state appearances.

     “I was happy for the girls, but I know I had a few runners who weren’t satisfied with their races. So placing 10th in that situation was great. It is exciting because this team is ready to work even harder and work towards earning another trip,” said Johnson. “I thought everyone handled the pressure well. They all were ready to go. I think this state meet only made them want to earn another trip and build on this experience.”

Team scores: Annandale 85, Lac qui Parle Valley 113, Perham 138, Waseca 144, Holy Family 154, St. Cloud Cathedral 171, Luverne 185, Spectrum 222, Lake City 232, Park Rapids 244, Dover-Eyota 248, St. Paul Academy 253, Holdingford 262, Fairmont 300, International Falls 327, South Ridge 485.

Individual results

1, Emi Trost, Cannon Falls 14:40. 2, Mary Naas, St. Paul Academy, 14:50. 3, Becca Wilkin, Trinity, 14:52. 4, Elizabeth Schlafke, Annandale, 14:53. 5, Courtney Alama, Annandale, 14:56. 15, Ellie Nelson, Roseau, 15:23. 29, Lizzie Fudge, Perham, 15:38. 43, Lydia Kantonen, Park Rapids, 15:50. 46, Marissa Carlson, Bagley/Fosston, 15:51. 47, Brynnan Covington, Perham, 15:52. 58, Lindsay Fast, Warroad, 15:58. 65, Megan Danielson, Frazee, 16:03. 68, Sydney Karels, Perham, 16:03. 69, Emma Schmitz, Wadena-Deer Creek, 16:03. 85, Kendra Coborn, Park Rapids, 16:11. 89, Jenna Wegscheid, Perham, 16:14. 91, Megan Olson, Park Rapids, 16:15. 92, Caitlin Covington, Perham, 16:16. 93, Ellie Morgan, Frazee, 16:16. 95, Gretta Brunelle, Warroad, 16:17. 106, Ellery Overmyer, Park Rapids, 16:28. 138, Caitie Ryan, Pequot Lakes, 17:00. 142, Racole Karels, Perham, 17:06. 158, Mary Riestenberg, Perham, 17:41. 161, Abby Mueller, Park Rapids, 17:45. 162, Madison Steffel, Park Rapids, 17:47. 171, Tayah Otterness, Park Rapids, 18:35.