Boys XC State and National Champs, Girls finish seventh
Despite humbled expectations and a controlled confidence from the team, the Perham boys cross country team made a ruckus and ran away with the 2012 Minnesota Class A State Cross Country Championship.
It was also announced at the awards ceremony the victory had sealed the No. 1 National Ranking for Division II schools from XCNation.com.
In accepting the championship trophy, the Yellowjackets capped off an 18-hour span that saw a section football title complimenting the cross country team's win in a blitz of trophies for the School of Champions.
Keeghan Hurley led Perham, as he has all season, with a fourth place finish in the team competition and fifth place overall.
Senior Brady Speicher and junior Jayden Cullen finished in fifth and sixth place in team scoring respectively. Rounding out the scoring for Perham was senior Nick Carignan, 10th among team qualifiers, and sophomore Billy Beseman, 12th in team scoring.
The finish of neon yellow and black drew oohs and outspoken compliments from the crowd on the dominating performance by the top-seeded Yellowjackets.
Perham beat their arch rivals St. Cloud Cathedral and avenged last year's one-point loss to the Crusaders by a margin of 35 points.
The title is the fourth for the Perham boys adding to 2006, '07 and 2010.
The victory caps a near-perfect season, according to head coach Jeff Morris and the team.
"Nothing ever goes exactly how you want it to go, but much didn't go wrong today," said Morris. "I think the thing that I told them before the race was, 'Let's go out and let what we've done this summer and in workouts be a reflection of what we want to do. What we really believe we're capable of doing and we did that.'"
"We ran well," Carignan said. "We definitely outran them by quite a bit. It was picture perfect."
"I'm so excited," Beseman said. "The team did great, especially Jayden. He was outstanding."
Jayden Cullen was in the top five at the 1600m mark and ran his best race of the season in the most important race of the year.
"I tend to go out pretty fast," Cullen said. "Last year, obviously we were really more upset, but right now we're really happy that we won."
"It's been such a great season," Hurley said. "I know every team says they're a family, but it truly is. We came together so well and to win together is just frosting on the cake right now."
"We were pretty confident coming in, but we knew we didn't need a perfect race to win," Speicher said. "Cathedral's a good team. We didn't run the best but we ran what we had to."
Senior Matt Welch of Proctor won the Class A individual title after being among the race leaders throughout the 5000 meter course. Just beyond the 3200 mark - and shortly after light sleet began raining down on the course - Foley senior Charlie Lawrence was a close second just off Welch's shoulder.
The pack consisting of the third, fourth, and fifth place runners at the time was more than five seconds back.
Welch extended his lead during the last mile and finished the course in 15:34.0. Lawrence finished in second with a time of 15:46.5. Welch and Lawrence improved upon last year's places of 14th and 3rd, respectively. Third place went to sophomore Shane Streich of Waseca, 15:52.9. In fourth was St. Cloud Cathedral junior Nick Golebiowski, 15:53.2; and in fifth was Perham junior Keeghan Hurley, 16:01.2.
The girls team proved any doubters incorrect surpassing their state ranking of No. 9 and a season when they were given little credit for consistency with a solid seventh place finish.
Brynnan and Ciarrin Covington led the way for the Lady Jackets. Eighth grader Brynnan finished 40th overall and 16th in team standings.
Senior Ciarrin, finished 72nd overall and 32nd in team standings.
"There was a huge pack out front," Ciarrin said.
The girls race started in a clogged fashion and finished in bunches as large packs battled up the final hill to the last straightaway and the finish line.
"I think there was great competition," Ciarrin said. "I really think that our girls went in there and mixed it up. We were 40 points out of second and sixty or seventy points out of first and I think that's awesome. I thought that we did really well. We gave it our all and that's all we can do."
Junior Clare Flanagan, of The Blake School, raced to her second consecutive individual title, finishing in a time of 14:04.1. Also for the second consecutive year, Flanagan finished with a comfortable lead over her competitors. Forty seconds separated the first five racers. Flanagan finished more than 12 seconds before the second-place finisher junior Emi Trost of Cannon Falls, 14:16.5.
Trost is repeating as runner-up, and also held a comfortable lead over the competition.
Third place was claimed by junior McKenzie Holt of St. Cloud Christian, 14:29.8. Junior Emily Mantor of United South Central, 14:39.5, and senior Marisa Shady, 14:44.8, finished in fourth and fifth respectively.
Esko won its first team title in 32 years, and improved upon a 2011 finish of third place.
Team scores: Perham 37, St. Cloud Cathedral 72, Waseca 164, Martin County West 200, Cotter 200, Esko 201, Redwood Valley 205, Minnehaha Academy 211, Plainview-Elgin-Millville 218, The Blake School 227, Proctor 247, Pelican Rapids 253, Albany 260, Mora 303, Park Rapids 365, Luverne 385.
Top 10: 1, Welch, Proctor, 15:34.0. 2, Lawrence, Foley, 15:46.5. 3, Streich, Waseca, 15:52.9. 4, Golebiowski, SCC, 5:04.70. 5, Hurley, Perham, 5:04.70. 6, Torchia, Rochester Lourdes, 5:04.70. 7, Speicher, Perham, 5:04.50. 8, Cullen, Perham, 5:04.65. 9, Stoks, Canby-Minneota, 5:04.95. 10, Overmyer, Park Rapids, 5:22.20.
Other area finishers
Bagley-Fosston: 56, Davies 17:01.8.
Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton: 109, Santos 17:35.3.
Ottertail Central: 66, L. Himmelspach 17:05.8. 116, B. Himmelspach 17:39.9.
Park Rapids Area: 132, Waggoner 17:51.5. 155, Jewison 18:28.2. 161, Otterness 18:38.3. 164, Mueller 18:58.6. 165, Eischens 19:02.0. 174, Carlson 20:01.6.
Pelican Rapids: 22, Bekkerus 16:32.6. 72, Romero 17:10.8. 95, Mackner 17:22.6. 137, Aden 17:53.4. 139, Lynnes 17:55.3. 153, Wald 18:20.4. 168, Cruz 19:17.2.
Pequot Lakes: 59, Ryan 17:03.6.
Perham: 16, Carignan 16:27.4. 19, Beseman 16:31.6. 36, Dahms 16:46.7. 74, Sullivan 17:12.7.
Team scores: Esko 115, Annandale 150, Minnehaha Academy 151, Waseca 157, Dover-Eyota 184, The Blake School 187, Perham 194, Adrian 204, Rochester Lourdes 206, Holdingford 212, Canby-Minneota 237, Martin County West 255, Spectrum 257, Warroad 267, Albany 282, International Falls 302.
Top 10: 1, Flanagan, Blake, 14:04.1. 2, Trost, Cannon Falls, 14:16.5. 3, Holt, St. Cloud Christian, 14:29.8. 4, Mantor, United South Central, 14:39.5. 5, Shady, Esko, 14:44.8. 6, Schlafke, Annandale, 14:46.3. 7, Ramirez, Litchfield, 14:47.3. 8, Truniger, Mayer Lutheran, 14:49.4. 9, Schandelmeier, Luverne, 14:56.6. 10, Woltz, Chatfield, 14:59.8.
Other area finishers
Bagley-Fosston: 97, Carlson 16:11.1.
Park Rapids Area: 104, Otterness 16:22.0.
Pelican Rapids: 32, Bakken 15:33.5. 58, Wald 15:45.1.
Perham: 40, B. Covington 15:37.3. 72, C. Covington 15:56.8. 100, S. Karels 16:19.5. 101, Fudge 16:19.7. 109, Riestenberg 16:26.1. 144, R. Karels 16:59.2. 147, Anderson 17:10.8.
Wadena-Deer Creek: 45, Schmitz 15:39.4.
West Central Area: 125, VanKempen 16:32.8.
A more in-depth story about both state meets and more comments from the participants will be published online Monday and Tuesday.
The Minnesota State High School League's Class A Summary was used in portions of this story.