Head coach Tom Stambaugh predicted close finishes for his Nevis cross country teams at Fair Havens Golf Course on Thursday, Sept. 24.
Both races were close as the Nevis girls edged out Crosby-Ironton and the Nevis boys topped Park Rapids to give the Tigers a sweep of the team titles.
A solid team effort led the Tigers in this first cross country meet at Fair Havens.
In the girls 5K race, Jade Rypkema and Adeline Bjorklund led the pack as Nevis compiled 27 points to edge out Crosby-Ironton’s team total of 31. Park Rapids fielded an incomplete team.
Rypkema clocked a time of 20:10 to finish first for the fifth time in five meets this season while Bjorklund followed in 21:26. Molly Lindow (23.42) and Addison Lindow (23:51) placed seventh and eighth while Emily Funk rounded out the team score by placing 12th in 25:35. Grace McNamee (14th in 25:40), Savanna Anderson (15th in 26:38), Sarah Boettcher (16th in 32:20) and Amber Gabriel (17th in 32:26) rounded out the Tigers’ squad.
Natalia Lopez finished fourth in 23:08 and Aleka London was ninth in 23:56 as Park Rapids’ only runners.
“The girls ran a perfect race. They didn’t get sucked in by going out too fast. We were in a little trouble at the mile, but they moved up nicely the last two miles,” said Stambaugh. “Jade was on cruise control. I wanted her on a comfortable easy effort, which she did. Adeline was a big key getting second. She ran two minutes faster than she’s ever run. Molly was her steady self as our third runner. Addison has been a great addition as our fourth runner. She is a great competitor in everything she does. Emily finished really strong to seal the win for us.”
In the boys race, Stambaugh said the Tigers needed a 1-2-3 finish in order to edge out Park Rapids for the title.
That’s what happened as Nevis tallied 27 points to edge out the Panthers’ team score of 30. Crosby-Ironton had an incomplete team with only three runners.
Nevis’ George Bjorklund, Jack McNamee and Evan Pohl ran in a pack, crossing the finish line with identical times of 17:31. Park Rapids had the next six runners with Nate Bervig (fourth in 17:50), Darryl Etter (fifth in 18:18), Eli Bervig (sixth in 18:21), Ephraim Bervig (seventh in 18:23) and Ronaldo De La Cruz Gomez (eighth in 18:39) comprising the team score.
The Panthers’ Sam Warne was ninth in 18:54 with Jack Johnson (10th in 19:04) and Reese Mowell (11th in 19:20) completing Nevis’ team score. Thomas Lopez finished 13th in 19:34 as Park Rapids’ No. 7 runner while Daniel Lindow (14th in 19:50) and Eli Peterson (15th in 19:53) rounded out the Tigers’ varsity squad.
Also running for the Panthers were Landon Strasburg (19:47), Owen Wagner (19:50), Blaine Hensel (20:38), Matt Dahring (21:54), Pierce DeBlieck (23:08), Aiden Yliniemi-Hensel (23:49) and Nolan Eckmann (24:37).
“Jack (McNamee) is the key for our boys. The boys feed off his positive attitude and his competitiveness. Jack does not like to lose. Both George and Evan ran their best times ever. Evan is a very talented sophomore and George is just starting to realize how good he can be,” said Stambaugh. “Jack Johnson and Reese finished our scoring with great races. Jack has improved as much as any athlete we have and Reese gives us everything he’s got. Daniel and Eli are two very talented young runners to finish our top seven.”
Both Stambaugh and Richard enjoyed watching their runners battle it out for the top spot.
“All of our kids love competing against Park Rapids. Our boys look at Park Rapids as one of the better teams in our section, and to squeak by them is a great accomplishment,” said Stambaugh. “As a coach, I love seeing both teams competing hard against each other. We got lucky to come out on top, but I really appreciate how hard they compete.”
“It was a close race for sure,” said Park Rapids head coach Patrick Richard. “We always like competing against Nevis because they make us run faster.”
Both coaches were pleased with the performances of all of their runners on the new course.
“I couldn’t be more happy for the kids,” said Stambaugh. “We’re a very small program. We don’t have a lot of quantity, but we do have some quality.”
“They all ran hard and were competitive at our final home meet. You have to be proud of that,” said Richard, whose team competed at Headwaters Golf Club in the first home meet of the season. “They said it was a tougher course than Headwaters was last week, but they didn't mind it, especially with how beautiful the leaves were.”
Park Rapids and Nevis will conclude the regular season on Thursday (Oct. 1). The Panthers, who ran at Pine River in a rescheduled meet on Monday (Sept. 28), will travel to Evansville’s Pine Ridge Golf Course while Nevis will end the regular season by running at Frazee.