Another year, another Heart O’Lakes Conference championship for the Perham boys cross country running team. The Yellowjackets extended their streak to 16 years when they dominated the field at Arvig Park on Oct. 10.
The boys team finished first with 26 points, while West Central Area was second with 60 points. The Yellowjackets had six runners in the top 10 and seven in the top 14, easily cruising to the title.
“We keep looking stronger,” Perham head coach Jeff Morris said. “We have been looking for a fifth runner and, I think, we found our five, six and seventh today. I would attribute it to our eighth through 14th runner. They have put the heat on them. They say ‘hey, we may not be able to run in that top seven, but we can fight for it.’ They have encouraged those guys and that’s what has fortified the pack.”
When the Yellowjackets started their historic run in 2002, Daunte Culpepper was throwing touchdown passes to Randy Moss and the Minnesota Timberwolves had a playoff basketball team. The Minnesota Twins won 94 games and lost in the American League Championship Series.
“The streak started when my son, who is in ninth grade, was born. It’s kind of cool,” Morris said. “Some of these kids were a baby when this streak started, it’s cool. It says that kids really feel like they can be a part of a team where everyone matters. We really try to emphasize that it’s about the team and it’s about family. We have three core values at the beginning of the year -- extending grace to each other as teammates, putting our teammates first and really being a family. It’s not easy putting others first in a world that sometimes that want’s to put ourselves first. That’s been the core value of the team and it’s neat to see it come together like this.”
West Central Area’s Jacob Bright won the race, finishing first with a time of 16 minutes and 10.52 seconds. He was swarmed by a trio of Yellowjackets throughout the race, but had two on his heels during the end.
Carson Speicher finished second, followed by Clayton Anderson in third place. Speicher finished with a time of 16:23.521, while Anderson came in at 16:26.95. The Yellowjackets followed in sixth, seventh and ninth place as well.
Brandon O’Hara came in sixth at 17:01.06, while Bailey Evenson was seventh at 17:10.15. Chase Belka was ninth at 17:15.81. Jakob McClearly followed in 11th place, finishing with a time of 17:21.95. Isaac Scheidecker came in 15th place, finishing with a time of 17:42.43. He was the seventh runner across the line for Perham and secured an All-Conference spot as well. The top 15 runners in the race earn All-Conference honors.
The Yellowjackets hope it is just one of many streaks they can continue this year. They hope to extend their MSHSL Class A state tournament streak to 16 as well later in the month when they compete in the Section 8A Championships in Bagley. Prior to that, the Yellowjackets will be competing in Bemidji on Oct. 17.