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Yellowjackets make it 14 straight

The Perham girls cross country team celebrated its 14th straight HOL Conference Championship on Oct. 10 at Arvig Park. Photo courtesy of Kristen McMartin Photography 1 / 3
Perham's Caitlin Covington leads Thief River Falls' Jerzie Finstad and West Central Area's Lexi Bright before hitting the moguls at Arvig Park. Jason Groth/FOCUS2 / 3
The Yellowjackets get out to a fast start out of the gates at Arvig Park. Jason Groth/FOCUS3 / 3

Different faces, different names, yet the same result. The Perham girls cross country team ran its streak to 14 straight Heart O’Lakes Conference Championships when they sprinted to the title at Arvig Park on Oct. 10.

The Yellowjackets finished with 28 points, while West Central Area came in second with 68 points.

Several members of the 2017 Yellowjacket squad weren’t even born yet when the streak started. The Yellowjackets started the streak in 2004, after falling the two previous years to Pelican Rapids in the conference meet.

“I know some of them weren’t even born when this streak started, so that’s always fun for them to be a part of that tradition, be proud of that and to keep carrying it on,” Perham head coach Jeff Morris said.

Liz Birkeland

Caitlin Covington was victorious for the Yellowjackets, setting a blistering pace of 6 minutes, 6.84 seconds. She finished with an overall time of 18:59.731, winning by more than 34 seconds.

“In workouts, you can tell she is ready to go to another level,” Morris said. “Today, she made that jump. She kind of doubts herself a little bit. Today, in the race, she believed she could go up and be in the front and take over the race. That’s the first time I have ever seen her do that.”

The Yellowjackets finished with five runners in the top 10, earning HOL All-Conference honors. The top 15 runners earn All-Conference honors. The Yellowjackets had two miss placing in the top 15, but had all seven in the top 20.

“That was the first time we have put five girls under 20 and seven girls under 21,” Morris said. “It’s pretty neat to see and to see the constant push and see the lineup switch quite a bit and girls not being content being the No. 3 or No. 4 runner and just going to race and seeing what happens.”

Ashley Hokanson

Thief River Falls’ Jerzie Finstad finished second overall with a time of 19:33.62.

Perham’s Liz Birkeland came in fourth, finishing with a time of 19:44.598. She was followed closely by Ashley Hokanson, who ran a time of 19:47.251. Hailey Wegscheid came in eighth place at 19:55.52. Abby Tweeton rounded out the top 10 for Perham, finishing with a time of 20:03.872.

Mya Morris and Lauryn Rustad rounded out the field for the Yellowjackets. Morris finished in 17th place, while Rustad came in 18th. Morris crossed the line at 20:54.688, while Rustad came in at 21:01.622.

The Yellowjackets return to action when they travel to Bemidji on Oct. 17. However, they hope to extend another streak on Oct. 27 when they compete in the Section 8A Championships. The Yellowjackets have made it to the MSHSL Class A Championships 14 straight years.

Abby Tweeton

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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