The top-ranked Perham boys cross country team used a positive mental attitude and put the conditions of the course in their rearview mirror as they pushed forward to a first place finish at a snow covered Twin Pines Golf Course in Bagley, Minn., on Oct. 28.
An early snow storm blasted the area, dropping eight inches of snow on the course. While some of the snow melted away prior to the race, it left a lot on the course and a track that wasn’t cleared off.
“I have had one meet that was in 2009 where we ran in a blizzard, but to come here and see three to four inches on the ground was disheartening as coaches. But, for the kids, we said the kids are going to remember this and have fun,” Perham head coach Jeff Morris said. “This is something they are going to remember 30-40 years down the road. All of my section meets blur together, but I can tell you the two years it snowed, 2009 and now in 2017. It’s pretty cool.”
The Yellowjackets finished first with 48 points, followed by Ada-Borup/Norman County West, who finished with 91 points. Christian Sterton was the overall race winner, finishing with a time of 17 minutes, 53.5 seconds. It was the second straight year for Sterton running out in front. The Yellowjackets had two in the top 10 and all seven in the top 30, clinching the championship by a large margin. The victory extends the Yellowjackets streak to 16 straight Class A Championship appearances. They hope to build upon last year’s runner up finish at state.
“I think it went pretty well as a team. We knew what we needed to do and we tried to give it our best,” Perham’s Clayton Anderson said. “Morris always says not to focus on the conditions, competition and our circumstances and that is what we did today. We wanted to get out in front and stay in front, since it was hard to run with all the snow. We tried to get out and hold our spots and make a push in the last mile of the race.”
Anderson was the top Yellowjacket finisher. He came in second place, finishing with a time of 17:59.7. Anderson said today’s race was more about places than it was times.
“You have to be strategic, make the good decisions and the right decisions to end up where you want to be at the end of the race,” Anderson said. “It came down to the last mile and a half and said I had to go. I had to do it for my team and that’s what I tried to do today.”
Anderson said their success goes back to their training and the work they put in the summer. He said the bond and the brotherhood of the team has pushed them forward into faster times as well.
Anderson was followed by Carson Speicher, who finished third with a time of 18:16.1. Morris said the conditions did not favor Speicher’s running style and they knew it would have an affect on him.
“He (Carson) is a speed guy. It’s like a hot rod car on ice, it’s just not going to work very well,” Morris said. “It was cool to see Clayton not hesitate very much and say he had to be that guy today. He is right there with Carson. They are going to do really well next week. It’s really cool when you have one guy go and have Carson follow. They held onto that 2-3 spot, which was really cool.”
Morris said he was frustrated with the team half way through the race, but they turned it up in the second half of the race. He said it will set the tone for the Class A Championships in a week.
“You have to come into the race knowing the conditions suck, but it’s going to be fun,” Morris said. “We told them ‘you are going to go out there and compete hard. This is going to make you tougher.’ We have a quote that we use from Mike Tyson, ‘No one prepares for the punch to the face.’ What we have been doing all our training for is to prepare when it’s really going to hit back and how you respond to it.”
The Yellowjackets responded with a strong finish, surging up to the front and holding runners of at the edge. Scheidecker held off numerous runners on his way to the finish, helping the Yellowjackets close out the race.
Brandon O’Hara finished 11th overall with his best kick of the season. He came across the line with a time of 18:36.8. He was followed by Chase Belka, who finished 15th overall. He came in with a time of 18:53. 2. Jakob McCleary came in 18th place, ending with a time of 19:03.4.
Bailey Evenson finished with a time of 19:13.5 for 23rd place, while Isaac Scheidecker came in with a time of 19:32.0 for 28th place, rounding out the field for Perham.
East Grand Forks’ Cole Nowacki finished fourth with a time of 18:16.9, while Pelican Rapids’ David Johnston finished fifth, ending at 18:17.2.
The Yellowjackets will now compete at the Class A Championships in Northfield at Saint Olaf College on Nov. 4.
Section 8A Team Results
Perham 48, Ada-Borup/Norman County West 91, Wadena-Deer Creek 121, East Grand Forks 143, Pequot Lakes 151, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 181, Roseau 199, Frazee 219, Hawley 252, Crosby-Ironton 263, Park Rapids Area 279, Bagley/Fosston 320, Warroad 339, Nevis 387, Pine River-Backus 420, New York Mills 437, United North Central 451, Pelican Rapids 463, West Marshall 605
Perham Individual Results
2 Clayton Anderson 17:59.7
3 Carson Speicher 18:16.1
11 Brandon O’Hara 18:36.8
15 Chase Belka 18:53.2
18 Jakob McCleary 19:03.4
23 Bailey Evenson 19:13.5
29 Isaac Scheidecker 19:32.0