Having full rosters for both teams and having runners on both teams advance to the state Class A meet made for a successful season for the Park Rapids boys and girls cross country teams.

The Panthers capped off the season by excelling at the Section 8A meet as the boys qualified as a team for state with a runner-up finish while the girls just missed qualifying for state as a team by finishing third while sending one runner to the Class A meet.

“The season went well. Kids have been recruiting their friends and our numbers have been growing the past couple of years,” said head coach Pat Richard, who was named the Section 8A Coach of the Year. “We have two good leaders leaving, but we have good leaders coming back who are ready to step up. I like where our program is at.”

Boys fulfill goal

The main goal for the Park Rapids boys this fall was to compete at the state meet as a team.

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A successful regular season set the stage for the Panthers to achieve that goal.

Senior Darryl Etter; juniors Logan Maanum, Eli Bervig and Blaine Hensel; sophomore Noah Huot; and freshmen Ephraim Bervig and Thomas Lopez led the Panthers most of the season. Also competing on varsity this season were juniors Matt Dahring, Pierce DeBlieck, Damien Dejarlais and Cameron Runyan; freshman Jarrett Galzki; and seventh grader Asher Bervig.

At the season-opening Central Minnesota River Run at Staples, the Panthers finished third out of 14 teams with 57 points with Huot (fourth), Etter (11th), Eli Bervig (13th), Hensel (16th), Ephraim Bervig (17th), Lopez (27th) and Dahring (51st) leading the way. Staples-Motley, which was rated No. 1 in the state Class A poll at the time, finished first with 38 points.

The Panthers finished first at the 14-team Wadena-Deer Creek Invitational with 35 points as Huot (third), Ephraim Bervig (sixth), Eli Bervig (seventh), Etter (ninth) and Maanum (10th) posted top 10 finishes. Hensel (14th) and Dahring (46th) also competed.

Maanum finished 10th to lead Park Rapids to seventh place at the 21-team Bagley Invitational with 190 points. Lopez (26th), Asher Bervig (31st), Dejarlais (64th), Runyan (77th), DeBlieck (83rd) and Galzki (90) rounded out the Panthers’ squad. Bemidji took first with 51 points.

Park Rapids ran to runner-up honors in Division 3 with 98 points at the Milaca Mega Meet. Leading the Panthers were Huot (sixth), Eli Bervig (19th), Etter (24th), Ephraim Bervig (25th), Maanum (29th), Hensel (36th) and Lopez (133rd). Perham took first with 96 points.

Top 10 showings by Huot (fourth), Etter (fifth), Ephraim Bervig (seventh), Eli Bervig (eighth), Hensel (ninth) and Maanum (10th) led the Panthers to the team title at the five-team Pelican Rapids Invitational with 33 points. Lopez finished 15th.

The Panthers finished sixth at the 23-team Perham Invitational with 173 points with Eli Bervig (20th), Huot (21st), Etter (38th), Maanum (39th), Ephraim Bervig (55th), Hensel (58th) and Lopez (75th) competing. Perham took first with 70 points.

All-conference finishes by Huot (third), Eli Bervig (fifth), Etter (ninth) and Ephraim Bervig (10th) led Park Rapids to the Mid-State Conference title at Detroit Lakes. Hensel earned all-conference honorable mention honors by placing 15th as the Panthers compiled 39 points to win the conference title for the first time since 1994. Staples-Motley was a close second in this six-team meet with 42 points. Lopez placed 21st to round out Park Rapids’ seven-member team.

At the Section 8A meet, the Panthers tallied 72 points to trail Perham’s 34 points to earn a trip to the state Class A meet. Huot finished eighth overall with Maanum (12th), Etter (15th), Eli Bervig (19th), Hensel (20th), Ephraim Bervig (25th) and Lopez (40th) following. That marked the Panthers’ first trip to state since 2012.

The Panthers capped off the season by placing sixth at the 16-team state Class A meet. Huot led Park Rapids by placing 30th while Maanum (66th), Etter (71st), Eli Bervig (89th), Ephraim Bervig (96th), Hensel (108th) and Lopez (129th) followed. Nova Classical Academy won the state title with 122 points and Perham was second with 128 points. Staples-Motley finished fifth with 191 points. Nova Classical was rated No. 1, Perham was rated No. 2, Staples-Motley was rated No. 5 and Park Rapids was rated No. 12 entering the state meet.

Earning team awards were Huot (MVP and Newcomer of the Year), Etter (Toughest Runner and Most Spirit), Eli Bervig (Hardest Worker), Hensel (Most Improved) and Jayson Ward (Coaches Award).

“We took it one week and one race at a time and trained to get stronger throughout the season to be at our peak at the section meet,” said Richard. “I definitely thought this team would compete for second in the section. They wanted it. Placing sixth at state was an awesome way to end the season.”

The Panthers will graduate one of their top runners in Etter, but will return a solid nucleus determined to return to the state meet next fall.

“The expectation for next year is to get back to state,” said Richard.

Girls field full team

The Park Rapids girls fielded a full seven-member squad in seven of the eight meets this fall with junior Mogan Koppelman capping off the season by qualifying for the state meet.

In addition to Koppelman, senior Holly Johnson; juniors Olivia Davis, Julia Harmon, Natalia Lopez, Aleka London and Lyvia Livermore; eighth graders Breanna DeBlieck, Grace Etter and Sarah Hartung; and seventh graders Embry Deshayes, Amelia Gravdahl and Makenzie Mack competed on varsity.

At the season opener at Staples, the Panthers finished second out of 13 teams with 70 points behind Koppelman (sixth), Harmon (11th), Lopez (16th), London (20th), Davis (21st), Johnson (31st) and Livermore (68th). Staples-Motley, which was rated No. 2 in the state Class A poll at the time, won the meet with 22 points.

The Panthers fielded an incomplete team at Wadena with Lopez (eighth), Harmon (13th), London (14th) and Livermore (43rd) running.

Park Rapids won the title at Bagley with 86 points with Koppelman (ninth), Lopez (18th), London (20th), Harmon (22nd) and Etter (37th) comprising the team score. Mack (82nd) and DeBlieck (83rd) rounded out the team.

At the Milaca Mega Meet, the Panthers finished 13th out of 20 Division 3 teams with 322 points as St. Cloud Cathedral led the field with 52 points. Koppleman placed 46th with Lopez (60th), London (63rd), Harmon (94th), Johnson (103rd) and Livermore (151st) following.

A runner-up finish at Pelican Rapids followed as the Panthers compiled 38 points to trail Pelican Rapids’ 21 total in this four-team meet. Lopez (sixth), Harmon (eighth), London (10th), Mack (17th) and Livermore (18th) ran for Park Rapids.

Competing for the Panthers at the Perham Invitational were Koppelman (36th), Lopez (45th), Harmon (51st), London (53rd), Johnson (60th), Deshayes (93rd) and Hartung (94th). Park Rapids placed seventh with 225 points as Lakeville South topped the 21-team field with 40 points.

The Panthers concluded the regular season by placing third at the Mid-State Conference meet with 79 points. Staples-Motley (34) and Detroit Lakes (73) led the six-team field. Koppelman placed 11th and Harmon was 13th to earn all-conference honorable mention honors. Lopez (16th), London (17th), Johnson (22nd), Hartung (28th) and Gravdahl (29th) rounded out Park Rapids’ squad.

Koppelman qualified for state by placing 13th overall in leading the Panthers to third place at the 20-team Section 8A meet with 117 points. Perham won the section title with 35 points and Hawley followed with 42 points. Harmon (21st), Lopez (22nd), London (26th) and Johnson (41st) comprised Park Rapids’ team score while Deshayes (52nd) and Livermore (91st) rounded out the team.

Koppelman made her state debut by placing 84th at the Class A meet to cap off the season.

Team awards went to Koppelman (MVP and Hardest Worker), Lopez (Toughest Runner), Harmon (Most Spirit), Deshayes (Newcomer of the Year), London (Most Improved) and Johnson (Coaches Award).

“It was exciting to have a full girls team. The past couple of years we had to look at individual scores. It was fun to look at team scores this year. That’s a testament to the girls wanting to try a new sport,” said Richard. “We had some strong runners this year. They wanted to improve and they did improve. The girls should feel proud finishing third at sections. They can walk tall finishing behind Perham and Hawley.”

The Panthers will also have to replace one of their top runners in Johnson, but are looking to move up and challenge Perham and Hawley for a state berth next fall.

“I’m looking for next year’s team to grow and improve,” said Richard. “We’re going to train hard and try to chase down one of the two state spots next year.”