Double Trouble

By John George They've been here before. They've experienced some success. They've even taken home prestigious medals. Just not the color of medal they've been working for. All participants of the State Cross Country Meet, which wi...

By John George

They've been here before. They've experienced some success. They've even taken home prestigious medals. Just not the color of medal they've been working for.

All participants of the State Cross Country Meet, which will be held at St. Olaf College in Northfield this Saturday, better beware. The Yellowjacket teams are going for gold. They have their sights set on success, and may be hard to stop.

The boys team, ranked No. 1 in the last Class A poll, easily won the Section 8A title last week and are led by Section champ Kevin Lachowitzer, who holds the No. 1 individual ranking in Class A. He finished with a time of 16:10, seven seconds ahead of Class A's No. 2 runner, Moses Heppner of Warroad.


"It's kinda nice being No. 1," Lachowitzer said without a hint of cockiness. "I like the pressure. I like the challenge."

A view shared by teammates and his head coach, Jeff Morris.

"We don't fear any team," Morris said. "But we have respect for all opponents. The boys don't mind the pressure. They've worked so hard and have been in big races before. They are confident that they will go out and have their best race each time they get on a starting line."

The boys had all seven varsity runners finish in the top-18, with the top-five earning a score of 30 points. The top-15 earn All-Section honors.

Behind Lachowitzer, Justin Tellinghuisen finished third with a time of 16:34. Behind him was Eddie Stenger in fourth, followed by Nick Adkins in sixth, Bryan Paridon in 16th, Charlie Nord in 17th and Parker Carignan in 18th.

"It felt really good to be in the lead pack," Tellinghuisen said. "I just went out there to give my full effort and had to see what happened."

Tellinghuisen, along with Heppner and Lachowitzer were in front of the lead pack for the first 2000 meters when Lachowitzer broke away.

"I didn't want to go out slow," Lachowitzer said. "I'm not a super fast kicker, so I like to keep the pace pretty fast. No one else was keeping the pace I liked, so I decided to jump out and take the lead."


By the mid-way point, Lachowitzer led by close to 50-yards and he coasted to the victory.

"I didn't really look back," he said. "I was confident with my lead. If he (Heppner) was going to come at me, I was hoping I'd be able to make a kick with him. But that didn't happen."

Lachowitzer did admit to being nervous, because in the first meeting against No. 2 ranked Heppner, the two bumped into each other at the HOL Championships in Perham last month. Lachowitzer was able to get up and race on, Heppner fell behind.

"I was hoping for another chance to beat him," Lachowitzer added.

The boys now have a state title within their grasp.

"There's no extra pressure being No. 1," Tellinghuisen said. "We still have to go out and run our best race."

While trying to keep his excitement and confidence in check, Morris couldn't help tooting the horns of his runners.

"I believe we have the best one through four runners in the State," he said. "And our five through seven runners are right there."


The girls were led by medalist Brittany Gigstead (15:46) as they won their second straight 8A title.

"I knew we would run a good race here," Gigstead said of the section meet. "I knew we just had to keep doing what we had all year."

The girls finished with a score of 25 with four finishing in the top-five, and all seven finishing in the top-20.

Maddie McClellan was second overall, followed by Holly Sheets in fourth and Sadie Ellenberg in fifth.

"We didn't have any goals as far as times," McClellan said. "We just wanted to run our race and get to State."

The girls have a tougher task ahead of them at State. They are ranked No. 2, behind defending State champs, Adrian.

"The girls have little pressure on them" Morris said. "Adrian has all the pressure. We can just go out and run our race and we'll have as good a chance as anyone to win it."

Morris added that the key for the girls will be how aggressive they run. A fast start at State is always a key.


"We've ran this course before," Morris said. Not only have all the Jackets run the course at State last year, they ran it earlier this season.

"It helps a lot that we ran there (St. Olaf) earlier this year," Gigstead said. "We know what to expect there."

Morris added that the big races the team has run, at St. Olaf and at the Griak Invite at the U of M, were bigger that the State meet, which should help his team.

"We know how important a fast start is," he said. "You can't get stuck behind the lead pack. There are too many girls to pass. They have to get out front and run their race."

The girls finished third at last year's State Meet, the boys finished fourth. Both are hoping for higher finishes this time around.

"You can't control what other teams do," Morris said. "But if both our teams run the way they are capable of, we will be tough to beat."

"We've all been working really hard," Lachowitzer said of both boys and girls teams. "I'm really confident in our chances to win it all. Anything less than first place will be a little disappointing."

Look out Northfield. These runners are on a mission.

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