Warriors hoping to get a chance to run at state

After missing out on a trip to the Class A meet in a tiebreaker last season, a focused United North Central girls cross country team will be ready to contend if a Section 8A meet is held.

KateHendrickson (1).JPG
Kate Hendrickson is the lone senior on a veteran United North Central girls cross country team. Vance Carlson / Enterprise

After missing out on a trip to the state Class A meet in a tiebreaker last fall, the members of the United North Central girls cross country team were anxious to make a run at a state trip this season.

That opportunity might not happen as the Minnesota State High School League is debating whether it will be safe to hold a state meet because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The MSHSL did allow cross country teams to compete in a maximum of seven meets this fall. However, those meets can only have a maximum of three teams.

UNC head coach Nick Jasmer is just happy a system was worked out and his team gets the chance to compete this fall.

“It was a head scratcher for sure, but once the talks started to happen and we figured out a system for meets, we were really happy with what the season would look like,” said Jasmer. “The runners were a little puzzled as well, but they are just really happy that they get to have a cross country season.”


The UNC girls return a veteran team with six members back from last year’s team that ended up placing third at the Section 8A meet. Looking to lead the Warriors this season are senior Kate Hendrickson; juniors Kaarin Lehto, Gabby Hrdlicka and Hope Shepersky; and eighth graders Anjalie Aho and Mattea Smith.

Aho qualified for the state meet by placing seventh in her section debut. Aho ended up placing 149th in her state debut. Lehto (22nd), Hrdlicka (27th) and Shepersky (28th) followed Aho at the section meet with Smith (51st) and Hendrickson (56th) rounding out the section team. Perham won the section title with 41 points while Hawley matched UNC’s total of 105, but won the tiebreaker based on each team’s No. 6 finisher.

Looking to fill the spot left by the graduation of Devon Haverinen (who finished 37th as the No. 5 runner at the section meet) are Erica Johnson, Alessandra Matson, Rachael Smith, Emma Isaacson, Lora Isaacson, Maci Lake, Eva Erickson, Annika Pulju, Joanna Lehto, Kayli Westberg, Miley Westberg and Avory Haman.

The Warriors also claimed runner-up honors at the Park Region Conference meet with 36 points, one point behind Wadena-Deer Creek. Earning all-conference honors for UNC at the PRC meet were Aho (sixth), Lehto (seventh), Hrdlicka (eighth), Hendrickson (12th) and Shepersky (13th). Also competing for the Warriors were Mattea Smith (20th), Johnson (24th), Lora Isaacson (32nd), Rachael Smith (43rd) and Emma Isaacson (48th).

For the boys, UNC returns four runners from last year’s section team: seniors Andreas Aho and Sam Jackola, junior Christian Johnson and freshman Wesley Hodge.

Aho finished 39th, Johnson placed 54th and Jackola was 106th as the top three runners while Hodge was 123rd as the Warriors finished 16th as a team with 402 points. Perham (22 points) and East Grand Forks (98 points) claimed the two state berths.

At the conference meet, Aho finished sixth to earn all-conference honors while Johnson placed 19th, Jackola was 46th and Hodge was 71st. W-DC won the conference title with 33 points as UNC finished fifth with 144 points.

Henry Hultberg is the only other returning letterwinner for the Warriors, who will also have Connor Korvela and Liam Day competing this fall.


Even though the season will consist of triangular meets with the conference, section and state meets still up in the air, Jasmer is telling his runners to approach this season like any other.

“While the competitive field will be smaller, I think the intensity of the competition will still be at a high level. We are still going to run against some really good teams this season,” said Jasmer, whose team is scheduled to run in five meets this fall. “We are still going to train and compete as if we are still going to have some sort of postseason. These athletes are still motivated and are ready to compete no matter what happens at the end of the season.”

1982 Dawson-Boyd High School graduate
1987 Moorhead State University graduate
Sports reporter for Park Rapids Enterprise since 1987
What To Read Next
Get Local