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Perham boys hoping to extend streak to 15

The Perham Yellowjacket Boys Cross Country Team enters Friday's Section 8A Championships as both the hunter and the hunted.

The team is hunting for its sixth Class A Championship after finishing second in last year's Class A Championship race, while it also has a target on its back as the No.1 ranked team in the state.

"It's been fun. It's not something they took lightly after finishing second the last two years," Morris said. "Going into the section meet, I don't think they are taking the sections lightly at all. I think they have the mentality that the target is on their back, but they know they are hunting something, which we haven't been able to do the last two years. We have gotten to state and have done well, but we have come up a little bit short."

The Yellowjackets are coming off a strong bounceback meet where they won the Bemidji Invitational. Hunter Kjelshus finished first, followed by Jacob Dickerson in third. Clayton Anderson finished fifth, and Carson Speicher was sixth. Brandon Ohara finished in 13th, Adam Siira finished in 16th and Nick Listrom came in 21st.

Speicher said it is fun to get to the championship season, knowing how hard the team has been working toward that.

"We are more ready than we have ever been," Speicher said. "We have a lot of smiles and laughs knowing we are confident in what we have been doing. We are looking forward to it, showing off what we have been doing all year."

Speicher said the Bemidji Invitational was a good one for the team, helping them get ready for the Section 8A Championships in Bagley.

"It was super exciting to see. We put four in the top seven and five right in the top 15. It was the last exclamation point going into the postseason, showing off what we can do here," Speicher said. "We redeemed ourselves after the Perham Invite, where we lost to Bemidji, and coming back to beat them in a small team race was pretty fun. It was showing off what we have been doing."

This year's team has watched previous Yellowjacket teams win the state championship, and hopes to add a win of its own to the Yellowjackets' impressive resume.

Morris said the team members are pretty hungry, adding that they showed poise and grit through some tough conditions during the Bemidji Invitational. One of the runners was not feeling well, and Morris said it's pretty special when someone can still run well in that situation.

One of the keys, according to Morris, will be the kids' ability to run their races while maintaining the consistency they have had all season long.

"It's more important than the Perham Invite, but it's still a 5K," Morris said. "It's still doing the same thing we have been doing all year at different meets. We are still doing the same training, as long as the kids remember we are not going to change anything that day. We are not going to go out any harder or any slower; we are going to trust our training, the confidence we have in our race plan, and go out there and work together and compete hard."

Perham and Pequot Lakes are the favorites on the boy's side of the competition. The Yellowjackets are seeking their 15th straight Class A Championship appearance when they run for the 8A Championship.

"There are some other good teams, like Ada-Borup. They have a first year cross country team and they were able to get some good runners out right away," Morris said. "Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton always has some strong individuals. Individually, it's not as deep as the girls side, but there are some good individuals on that side."

The Section 8A Championships begin with the girls race at 4 p.m., with the boys race following at the Twin Pines Country Club in Bagley, Minn.

Jason Groth

 Groth is a Minnesota Newspaper Association award-winning Sports Editor of the Perham Focus and the Wadena Pioneer Journal. Groth worked in Grand Rapids as the Sports Director at KOZY/KMFY radio for two years and prior to that he was the Sports Editor/Writer for the Grand Rapids Herald-Review for seven years. 

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