The Perham boys cross-country team is ranked No. 4 in the National Division II Small School pre-season rankings.
The National High School Coaches Association will award official National Team Championship status following All State Association and Marketing Event Championships.
To ensure fairness, both Division I Large School (total student body enrollment 10-12, 500-plus) and Division II Small School (total student body enrollment 10-12, less than 500) National Team Championships will be awarded. Teams do not have to compete at Post-State Association Championship competitions to earn the title Official National High School Cross-Country Team Champions.
When asked about the pre-season ranking, coach Jeff Morris said, "I think getting recognition like this is great for the boys, the program and community because it gives people the audacity to dream big. We have also been a program of big dreams and expectations and the more I have coached the more I realize it is about getting kids to dare to dream big and go after big goals."
When Morris first took over program a decade ago, the goal was to get to state - and the teams have done that every year for the last 10 year.
Now it is not just about getting there, Morris said, but being a team that potentially could win state each year. In the last six years the Yellowjackets have been first three times and second three times by less than six points in each of those losses; this past year losing by just one point.
Morris said, "We want to keep challenging kids to be one of the best teams in the state regardless of classification. This has been the goal and now has led to some national recognition. It is fun seeing kids really believe they can be this good."
"We have a great group of seniors coming up, with some of the best underclassmen I have had, so the next few years we are hoping to not only continue to get that recognition, but show we deserve to be up there every year," Morris added. "It is going to take a lot of hard work, and I can tell you both of our programs, girls and guys, are willing to work this hard. When it comes down to it, take away the rankings and titles and the greatest thing all of this produces is the ability for kids to dream big and actually do the work to make it happen. That is my main goal as a coach, that they dream big about whatever they are doing in life and do the work to go after their dreams."