For the Park Rapids and United North Central cross-country teams, the Bagley/Fosston Invitational at Bagley’s Twin Pines Golf Course on Tuesday, Sept. 17, served as a trial run for the upcoming Section 8A meet.
The majority of the section teams were also on hand to run on the Twin Pines Golf Course, which will once again host the Section 8A meet on Oct. 25. Even though the runners battled hot conditions, the race proved to be a good test for the Park Rapids and UNC runners.
“It was nice to get a chance to familiarize ourselves with the section course. We were also getting pretty antsy for competition since our meet last week (the Long Prairie-Grey Eagle Invitational on Sept. 9) got postponed,” said Park Rapids head coach Pat Richard. “Even though it was hot, it didn’t stop our runners from giving everything they had and I couldn’t be more proud of their efforts. You saw the exhaustion in their faces as they ran and they just kept pushing. (There’s) plenty of toughness and grit in this group, which speaks to their attitudes as individuals. That is what Panthers Cross Country has always been about and this group showed that on Tuesday.”
“I think they ran well for the conditions. It was a hot one!” said UNC head coach Nick Jasmer. “The athletes definitely felt the heat out there on the course, but I think my athletes ran a smart race and were able to overcome the heat.”
United North Central finished fifth in the girls race with 117 points with Anjalie Aho (12th in 22:12), Kaarin Lehto (19th in 23:02), Kate Hendrickson (27th in 23:36), Gabby Hrdlicka (43rd in 24:29), Molly Hendrickson (58th in 25:25) and Devon Haverinen (63rd in 26:25) leading the way.
Holly Johnson (29th in 23:42) and Julia Harmon (39th in 24:20) were the only runners competing for Park Rapids.
Pequot Lakes’ Calia Chaney led the 99-runner field with a winning 5K time of 20:09. Wadena-Deer Creek’s Kira Sweeney was second in 20:19 while Pequot Lakes’ Rian Zutter took third in 20:55. Pequot Lakes captured the team title with 55 points as East Grand Forks (84), Pelican Rapids (101) and International Falls (114) followed in this 22-team meet.
In the boys race, Park Rapids finished ninth with 252 points. Darryl Thompson-Etter (23rd in 19:05), Skylar Hagen (38th in 19:39), Kaleb Stearns (65th in 20:51), Kolby Brandt (68th in 20:53), Marcus Benson (84th in 21:42), Owen Wagner (95th in 22:12) and Blaine Hensel (98th in 22:24) ran varsity for the Panthers.
UNC compiled 376 points to finish 14th with Andreas Aho (32nd in 19:14), Christian Johnson (57th in 20:25), Sam Jackola (88th in 21:55), Charlie Hodge (106th in 22:53) and Rashad Lincoln (152nd in 28:20) competing for the Warriors.
East Grand Forks claimed the top-three spots as Tyson Mahar (17:08), Jonathan Krueger (17:20) and Cole Nowacki (17:27) led the 159-runner 5K field. Frazee won the team title with 77 points with Pequot Lakes (81), East Grand Forks (93), Wadena-Deer Creek (108) and Roseau (131) following in the 25-team field.
“I’m happy with the progress we’ve made this year,” said Richard. “The hard-working attitudes that come with them to practice this season have allowed them to improve and close in on their goals as a team and as individuals. We have had some personal records broken throughout the first part of the season, which again goes right back to their efforts.”
“As the season progresses, we are making good progress towards our end goal of coming into the conference and section meets being at our top competitive level that we want to be at,” said Jasmer. “We have had our nagging injuries and soreness, but hopefully we can get all that behind us so we are ready to go when it really counts at the end of the season.”