Tigers capitalized on chance to compete
Rypkema's state title highlighted a successful season for Nevis' cross country teams.
After the way last season ended, head coach Tom Stambaugh had high expectations for the Nevis boys and girls cross country teams this fall.
The COVID-19 pandemic put a kink in those plans.
Stambaugh entered the season expecting sophomore Jade Rypkema to contend for the state Class A title and senior Jack McNamee and sophomore Evan Pohl looking to return to state as individuals and help the Tigers contend for a runner-up finish at the Section 8A meet to earn a trip to state.
Those lofty goals didn’t happen when the Minnesota State High School League decided not to hold a state meet this fall.
Despite only being able to compete in triangular meets during the regular season and not being able to run at state, Stambaugh was pleased with the way his runners competed this fall.
“Kids did a great job this year, especially with the situation we are in. Not knowing if meets were happening and the uncertainty of the end of the season meets was a challenge,” said Stambaugh. “Triangular meets were definitely a throwback to my days when we didn’t have the mega meets. It was enjoyable, but I know the kids did miss competing in large meets.”
While Rypkema, McNamee and Pohl led the way, the Tigers received solid contributions from the entire varsity rosters.
Joining Rypkema on the girls team were junior Amber Gabriel; sophomores Addison Lindow, Molly Lindow, Emily Funk, Savannah Anderson and Sarah Boettcher; eighth grader Grace McNamee; and seventh grader Adeline Bjorklund.
Rounding out the boys team were senior Jack Johnson; juniors George Bjorklund and Reese Mowell; freshman Eli Peterson; and eighth grader Daniel Lindow.
In the six meets during the regular season, the Nevis boys finished first four times while the Nevis girls took first in two meets.
At the season opener at Pine River, the Tigers swept both titles. McNamee, Pohl and Bjorklund finished 1-2-3 while Mowell (11th), Johnson (12th), Peterson (16th) and Lindow (17th) led the Nevis boys to 29 points. Park Rapids (32) and Pine River-Backus (71) followed. For the girls, Rypkema, Bjorklund and Molly Lindow posted a 1-2-3 showing with Addison Lindow (fifth), Funk (10th), McNamee (11th) and Anderson (12th) giving the Tigers 21 points. PR-B had 34 points while Park Rapids had an incomplete team.
McNamee, Bjorklund and Pohl posted another 1-2-3 finish while Mowell (fourth) and Johnson (fifth) gave the Nevis boys a perfect score of 15 at Menahga. Lindow (11th) and Peterson (12th) also ran. PR-B was second with 39 points and United North Central had an incomplete team. Rypkema took first in the girls meet as the Tigers had only three runners. Anderson (13th) and Gabriel (17th) also competed as UNC took first with 19 points and PR-B was second with 38 points.
Perham led the field at the Detroit Lakes triangular. The Nevis boys placed second with 47 points behind Pohl (third), McNamee (fourth), Bjorklund (sixth), Johnson (16th), Lindow (18th) and Mowell (20th) while the Nevis girls finished third with 61 points as Rypkema took first. Molly Lindow (12th), Addison Lindow (13th), Funk (17th), Anderson (18th) and Gabriel (19th) followed. Perham compiled 23 points and Detroit Lakes had 64 points in the boys meet while Perham had 20 points and Detroit Lakes had 59 points in the girls race.
Hawley took first at the Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton triangular with perfect scores of 15 points as both Nevis and Hillcrest Lutheran Academy had incomplete teams. Bjorklund took first as the only runner for the Nevis boys while Rypkema was first for the Nevis girls. Anderson (10th) and Gabriel (11th) also ran for the Tigers.
The Tigers topped the field at the Park Rapids triangular at Fair Havens Golf Course. McNamee, Pohl and Bjorklund led the pack with a 1-2-3 finish while Johnson (10th), Mowell (11th), Lindow (14th) and Peterson (15th) helped Nevis compile 27 points to edge out Park Rapids’ total of 30. Crosby-Ironton had an incomplete team. In the girls race, Rypkema took first and Bjorklund was second while Molly Lindow (seventh), Addison Lindow (eighth), Funk (12th), McNamee (14th) and Anderson (15th) gave the Tigers 27 points. C-I was second with 31 points while Park Rapids had an incomplete team.
At the Frazee triangular, McNamee, Bjorklund and Pohl produced another 1-2-3 finish to lead the Nevis boys to first place with 27 points. Frazee was second with 39 points and Bertha-Hewitt had 52 points. Johnson (10th), Mowell (11th), Lindow (13th) and Peterson (15th) rounded out Nevis’ team score. Rypkema took first as the Nevis girls placed second with 37 points behind Frazee’s 22 points. Molly Lindow (sixth), Addison Lindow (seventh), Funk (11th), Anderson (12th), Gabriel (13th) and Boettcher (15th) completed the Tigers’ team.
Rypkema capped off an undefeated season by repeating as the Section 8A champion while Pohl and McNamee finished in the top 10 in the boys meet at Bagley. Rypkema was rated No. 2 in the final state Class A girls poll.
Pohl finished fifth and McNamee placed eighth in leading the Tigers to fourth place in the team standings with 137 points. Perham (50), East Grand Forks (87) and Park Rapids (136) finished ahead of Nevis in this 22-team meet. Rounding out the Tigers’ team score were Bjorklund (34th), Johnson (36th) and Lindow (58th) while Peterson (61st) and Mowell (who finished 99th while running with a torn meniscus) also competed.
Following Rypkema in the girls meet were Bjorklund (47th), Addison Lindow (79th), Anderson (87th), Molly Lindow (97th), McNamee (102nd) and Gabriel (115). Nevis placed 12th with 287 points as Perham (56) and Hawley (69) led the way.
Rypkema and Pohl took advantage of being invited to compete at the TCRC Cross Country Showcase at Atwater, which was a substitute for the MSHSL state meet. Rypkema captured the girls title among 91 Class A runners while Pohl placed 43rd out of 117 runners in the boys race to cap off successful seasons.
“I couldn’t be more impressed with how both our teams competed. With only two classes, the majority of schools our size co-op. It’s very challenging for Nevis to try and compete against schools the size of Perham and East Grand Forks,” said Stambaugh. “Quality-wise, I’ll put my kids against any of them, but depth is where we need help. We have no room for injuries or problems that arise. The kids we have do a super job.”
Even though the Tigers must replace McNamee and Johnson on the boys side, Stambaugh is looking forward to more success from his teams next fall.
“The girls are young and should keep improving over the next few years. Having a runner as talented as Jade really helps. Her work ethic and desire to keep improving is a great example to our young group. This group could compete very well in our section next year with a good summer. Jade has her sights set on trying to win a state title and we definitely have a few girls who could challenge for state berths,” said Stambaugh. “The boys will miss Jack Johnson and Jack McNamee. Johnson improved every year and became an important part of our team’s success. McNamee is a rare talent for a school our size. His work ethic and desire to compete rubs off on all our runners. Both our seniors are great examples of why I love to coach. Our boys will be led by Evan Pohl and George Bjorklund next year. Both should be near the top in our section. We have some young talent who could be very good next fall with a good summer of work.”