Simply the Best
By John George email@example.com They always kinda knew this day would come. But they weren't about to jinx themselves. They ran all summer long. They ran...and ran, and ran, and ran, then ran some more. They were No. 1 one week into the season. The...
By John George
They always kinda knew this day would come. But they weren't about to jinx themselves.
They ran all summer long. They ran...and ran, and ran, and ran, then ran some more.
They were No. 1 one week into the season. They didn't thump their chests, talk trash, or take anything for granted. They just kept running.
They beat everyone they took on. Their leader looked unbeatable. Regular season meets, the conference meet, the Section meet. Still No. 1. Still running.
Then, the day they all knew would arrive. And they walked away as champions.
The Perham Yellowjacket boys cross country team won their first ever State Championship last week in Northfield at St. Olaf College. The Jackets blew away the competition with 71 points. Runner-up Minnehaha Academy was a distant 94 points away with 165. Third place Adrian had 172, followed by Pine City (181).
"I think that we knew at the beginning of the year that if we did what we needed to, this was possible," head coach Jeff Morris said. "As long as we took it one meet at a time, one practice at a time, we thought we had a pretty good shot. You just have to believe your the best out there."
Perham not only had the best team, they had the best individual as Kevin Lachowitzer earned Class A medalist honors with a career-best time of 15:54.9.
"I'm so proud of the guys," Lachowitzer said. "They stepped up. We all ran better than I thought we would."
The Jackets, as their season-long No.1 ranking indicates, are more than a one-man wrecking crew. Justin Tellinghuisen earned All-State honors by finishing in 9th place, 8th among team runners, with a time of 16:27. Eddie Stenger (16:39) just missed All-State recognition by finishing 17th, 11th among team runners.
The top-15 individuals are named to the All-State team.
"It's amazing," Stenger said. "By far, our best race of the year."
Perham started in lane two, as far to the outside as you can get. They thought they'd be starting from the inside.
"No big deal, we just went with it," Stenger said.
It didn't matter as Perham's Big-3, Lachowitzer, Stenger and Tellinghuisen jumped out into the lead pack. Lachowitzer separated with race leaders Moses Heppner of Warroad, Don Wasinger of Winona Cotter and Will Hattfield of Minnehaha Academy.
"I stayed close to the lead pack right away," Tellinghuisen said. "After about 300 meters, I could hear another coach yelling at his kid he was in 10th place. So I knew I was pretty far up there."
Perham's fourth runner was senior Bryan Paridon, who finished 24th among team runners, 43rd overall with a time of 17:08. Close behind was Nick Adkins, who was 27th for the team, 50th overall.
Adkins battled flu-like symptoms before the race. He was consistently among the team's top-four all season.
"I just kept an eye on my teammate (Bryan) in front of me," Adkins said of struggling through the race. "He was telling me he was going to beat me today and he did. It's the first time all year."
Adkins, Paridon and Parker Carignan are the team's three seniors. Adkins had a feeling this was going to be a special year.
"I think we always had an idea (that they could be state champs)," he said. "You never know how other teams are going to be, or how good your going to come together as a team. But, there was something about this team. We always kinda knew.
We just knew we all had to go out there and run our best race."
"We were ready to go before the race," Tellinghuisen said. "We were feeling pretty confident that if we ran our best, we'd be hard to beat."
"These guys have earned this," said Morris, who was Section 8A's boys coach of the year. "They are a dedicated group of guys. Three guys under 17 minutes at State is hard to beat."
Lachowitzer finished 15th at last year's State meet. Stenger was 75th and Tellinghuisen was 77th. All three are juniors.
"It hasn't quite sunk in for me yet," Stenger said. "It's pretty amazing."
Amazing is how dominate the Jackets were at State. All five of Perham's five scoring runners finished in the top-30 among team runners. Only five other teams had as many as three in the top-30.
The Jackets average time for their top-five was 16:40. Runner-up Minnehaha Academy's average was 17:17, 37 seconds slower.
The domination started at the top, where Lachowitzer ran away with the individual title, finishing 12 seconds ahead of Wasinger.
"It's scary to think of how good these guys could be next year," Morris said.
He stopped as if about to say something else. He paused. Smiled.
"Nah. We just need to enjoy this accomplishment. Live in the moment. This was a great day for these guys and they deserve to enjoy being called the best."
Simply, the best.
Saturday, November 4
State Class A Meet
Northfield--St. Olaf College
Boys Team Scores
1. Perham 71, 2. Minnehaha Academy 165, 3. Adrian 172, 4. Pine City 181, 5. Fairmont 194, 6. St. Cloud Cathedral 198, 7. Watertown-Mayer 199, 8. Mora 209, 9. Rochester Lourdes 220, 10. Redwood Valley 228, 11. Winona Cotter 237, 12. Warroad 248, 13. St. James 266, 14. Staples-Motley 274, 15. Eveleth-Gilbert 274, 16. Montevideo 277.
Medalist: Kevin Lachowitzer (Perham)
Jacket Individuals (Overall place):
8. Justin Tellinghuisen 16:27.5 (9), 11. Eddie Stenger 16:39.4 (17), 24. Bryan Paridon 17:08.8 (43), 27. Nick Adkins 17:11.9 (50), 50. Charlie Nord 17:44.1 (90), 78. Parker Carignan 18:25.5 (123).
4. Moses Heppner 16:19.0, 22. Eric Mohrbacher 17:07.3, 36. Alex Johnson 17:24.7, 90. Anthony Sourdif 18:43.7, 96. Josiah Head 18:52.3, 99. Tai Larson 18:55.1, 102. Solomon Heppner 19:03.2.
Section 8A Individuals
26. Clayton Foster (Pequot Lakes) 16:52.8, 31. Peter Vukelich (Crosby-Ironton) 17:00.2, 42. Andrew Friesen (LOTW/RR) 17:08.3, 63. Cody Marvig (Hawley/Ulen-Hitterdal) 17:20.8.
(158 total runners)