Nevis sophomore Evan Pohl and Nevis senior Jack McNamee were looking to return to the state Class A boys cross country meet while Park Rapids junior Darryl Etter was seeking his first trip to state this fall.
All three runners would have fulfilled their goals if a state meet would have been held this season.
Pohl placed fifth overall with a 5K time of 17:30, McNamee finished eighth in 17:57 and Etter was 10th in 18:03 at the Section 8A meet at Bagley’s Twin Pines Golf Course on Oct. 13. East Grand Forks’ Tyson Mahar led the 135-runner field with a winning time of 16:26 with Perham’s Jakob McCleary right behind in 16:27. Perham’s Carson Hespe (17:06) and East Grand Forks’ Jonathan Krueger (17:28) also finished ahead of Pohl. Mahar entered this race rated No. 4 and McCleary was rated No. 5 in the state Class A poll.
McNamee and Pohl qualified for state last year with McNamee placing 14th in 17:39 and Pohl taking 15th in 17:41 at Bagley. Etter missed a state berth by placing 23rd in 18:01. Entering this year’s section meet, all three were seeded in the top 11 spots. All three lived up to those expectations.
All three runners were looking to contend for all-state honors this season. McNamee finished 43rd and Pohl was 115th in their state debuts last fall. They won’t get a chance as the section meet concludes the season.
“Evan and Jack did a great job. I was very confident that both would be in the top 10, and they both came through with very nice races,” said Nevis head coach Tom Stambaugh. “Evan is very talented and Jack is a coach’s dream. He gives you 100%. It is very disappointing knowing neither will get a chance to compete at state, but I am also very pleased that they had an opportunity to qualify for state.”
“I knew Darryl had a chance since he was close to the cutoff last season. He has put the time in and was motivated to have the opportunity to earn a state qualifier spot. His success goes right back to his work ethic and drive to improve every day, in season and working on his own out of season. He earned his accomplishment,” said Park Rapids head coach Patrick Richard. “It truly is a bummer they canceled the state meet, though I understand why. I know he would have ran well. We were grateful to have had a season, but I do feel for Darryl as well as the other male and female student athletes who earned the opportunity to run at state.”
Panthers take third
Etter’s top-10 finish along with solid performances by the Bervig brothers enabled Park Rapids to edge out Nevis for third place in the team standings.
Ephraim Bervig finished 25th in 18:41, Nathaniel Bervig was 28th in 18:44 and Eli Bervig placed 35th in 19:01. Sam Warne was 41st in 19:20 to round out the Panthers’ team score of 136 points. Ronaldo De La Cruz Gomez finished 52nd in 19:37 and Owen Wagner was 67th in 20:11 to complete Park Rapids’ team.
Perham compiled 50 points to capture the section title for the 15th consecutive year. East Grand Forks followed with 87 points. Perham was rated No. 6 and EGF was rated No. 12 in the state Class A poll. Park Rapids ran with Nevis, Perham and East Grand Forks in one group of four teams.
“We were impressed with how our boys ran against Nevis. That is a team that always forces us to run our best. That was even more true at sections with Perham and East Grand Forks in our heat as well,” said Richard. “We are very proud of them for their performance at sections and throughout the entire season. We just told them not to go out of the gates unreasonably fast, pace with certain runners, use and push each other during the race, and to run their race hard and proud. They all executed the plan well. This is a team that has been positive, hard working and supportive of each other's goals. The community should be proud of what this group represents and has done over the course of the past couple of months.
Tigers finish fourth
Stambaugh was hoping the Tigers could compete with East Grand Forks for runner-up honors.
Having four runners place in the top 20 spots was the difference for the Green Wave as Nevis had to settle for fourth place.
George Bjorklund finished 34th in 19:01 and Jack Johnson used a personal best of 19:02 to finish 36th overall as Nevis’ No. 4 runner. Daniel Lindow completed the Tigers’ team score of 137. Eli Peterson (61st in 19:58) and Reese Mowell (99th in 21:04) rounded out Nevis’ team. Mowell, who was the Tigers’ No. 4 runner most of the season, later found out he ran with a torn meniscus.
“The kids competed as well as they could. Definitely wasn’t our best day, but our kids ran hard. Jack Johnson had the best race of his career. It was very enjoyable as a coach to see how far he has come as an athlete,” said Stambaugh. “With only four teams running at a time, it does change our strategy a bit. We ran a bit more aggressively early. The kids’ only goal was trying for the top 2 to qualify for state as a team. We couldn’t let East Grand get away from us early in the race. That definitely hurt a couple of our kids later in the race.”
United North Central fielded an incomplete team with only three runners.
Andreas Aho led the Warriors by placing 30th overall in 18:47. UNC’s other runners were Gauge Carstensen (120th in 23:07) and Wesley Hodge (123rd in 23:26).