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Yellowjackets finish first at Harrier Classic

Perham's Caitlin Covington comes down one of the moguls during the Harrier Classic at Arvig Park. Covington finished fourth, helping the Yellowjackets take hop honors on their home course. Jason Groth/FOCUS

Following in the footsteps of a talented older sibling can be a daunting task. Perham’s Caitlin Covington has stepped up to the challenge, becoming the top runner on the second-ranked Class A Perham girls cross country running team.

Covington led the Yellowjackets to the Harrier Classic title with a fourth-place finish on Oct. 5 at Arvig Park.

“It’s big shoes to fill, taking Brynnan’s spot,” Covington said. “There is a little pressure being the first one. I know my girls are behind me, so I’m not really the first one. We all travel as one together.”

Brynnan is now a member of the North Dakota State cross country program, while Caitlin has taken over the reigns at the front of the pack for the Yellowjackets. Covington finished the home race in a time of 19 minutes, 21.71 seconds. Caitlin has consistently been in the lead pack for the Yellowjackets, but has kept her focus on the team.

“It felt really awesome. Our girls did awesome,” Covington said. “After running the two mile, (Perham head coach) Jeff Morris said we were all in the top 15. It was so amazing that feeling of all of us being so close.”

Ashley Hokanson, Hailey Wegscheid

The Yellowjackets finished first with 60 points, besting Lakeville South, who finished second with 62 points. Moorhead was third with 100 points, while Fargo North came in fourth, and Bemidji placed fifth.

Lakeville South’s Brianne Brewster was the individual race winner. She finished with a time of 18:27.57. Bemidji’s Sadie Hamrin came in second at 18:35.44. West Central Area’s Lexi Bright came in third at 19:21.32. Covington followed in fourth, while Lakeville South’s Patty Jo English came in fifth at 19.21.71.

One of the keys to the Yellowjackets success has been their pack running. Behind Covington, the Yellowjackets had four runners finish in the top 20. One of those key runners has been seventh-grader Liz Birkeland, who has recently burst onto the scene for the Yellowjackets. She was the third Yellowjacket across the line, finishing with a time of 19:52.16. She was right on the heels of Ashley Hokanson. Hokanson finished with a time of 19:51.55 for 12th place, while Birkeland was 14th.

“It’s been crazy. Little Liz Birkeland is moving on up and is doing so awesome. I’m so proud of her,” Covington said. “All of the other girls are doing crazy, too, and we are all one big pack.”

Hailey Wegscheid finished the race in 16th place, ending with a time of 20:01.28, while Abby Tweeton came in 18th place. Tweeton crossed at 20:12.27.

Abby Tweeton

Mary Wunderlich came in 44th place, finishing with a time of 20:58.32, while Mya Morris rounded out the field for Perham in 62nd place. She finished with a time of 21:27.57.

The Yellowjackets return home on Oct. 10 for the Heart O’Lakes Conference Championships.

It’s a meet the Yellowjackets have historically dominated. The Yellowjackets have won the conference championship 13 years in a row and will seek to defend the title on a familiar course.

“(The) season has been awesome. I think our girls are going to do awesome this year,” Covington said. “Actually, I know they are going to do awesome.”

The HOL Conference Championships begin at 4 p.m. with the Mighty Mite race. The girls varsity race is at 4:55 p.m.

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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