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Perham captures both Class A titles

The Perham Yellowjackets celebrate their Class A Championship victories at St. Olaf College. Jason Groth/FOCUS

In the end, it was the depth of the Perham Yellowjackets that helped them capture both the girls and boys Class A cross country championships at St. Olaf on Nov. 4.

It was a measure of redemption for both teams when they were narrowly defeated last year by two points for the girls and seven points for the boys. The Yellowjackets became the third school in Class A history to sweep the girls and boys titles. St. Cloud Cathedral accomplished that feat in 2011 and Staples-Motley did so in 2003. While the Yellowjackets swept the Class A titles, Wayzata swept the Class AA team titles as well.

The Yellowjacket girls edged out Winona Cotter for the title, finishing with 86 points, while Cotter ended with 87 points. It wasn’t as close for the boys when they cruised to a 30 point victory finishing with 118 points, besting St. James Area, who finished with 148 points.

The Yellowjackets did not have a runner in the top 10 of either race, but it was the tight pack they have used all season long that propelled them to the No.1 ranking and now the double championship.

“It’s awesome. I don’t even know what to say right now. It;s really neat to see how the team came together on both sides. We had Caitlin Covington and Carson Speicher make All-State but no one in the top 10,” Perham head coach Jeff Morris said. “Our team was so tight as a pack and that’s what makes it really cool.”

Math and Science Academy’s Tierney Wolfgramm defended her title in record-breaking fashion. The ninth grader set a new state record, finishing with a time of 17 minutes, 31.6 seconds. She bested the former record holder in Grace Ping. Lauren Ping finished second, ending with a time of 18:19.7, while Grace Ping came in third at 18:27.5. Murray County’s Morgan Gehl finished fourth, while Luverne’s Tenley Nelson rounded out the top five.

The Yellowjacket girls were led by Caitlin Covington. She led the Yellowjackets with a 19th place finish, earning all-state honors. She finished with a time of 19:25.4. While the Yellowjackets did not have a runner in the top 10, they had three in the top 30. The depth showed when Perham’s final four runners bested Cotter’s fifth runner, helping them secure the victory.  Perham was trailing in points until the final stretch when they overcame Cotter.

“Our girls did amazing and push through with their very best and that’s what matters,” Covington said. “I told the girls to think about all the runners who have ran before us, to think about our town and our families and show them who the Perham girls really are.”

The boys finish was a sprint at the end with Matt Steiger upending the defending champion Declan Dahlberg at the line. Steiger finished with a time of 15.44.8, out-lunging Dahlberg, who ended with the same time. Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin’s Geno Uhrbom came in third, followed by Wabasha-Kellogg’s Nick Meyer and Lac Qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd’s Kesier Freetly, who came in fifth.

Perham’s Carson Speicher was the top finishing Yellowjacket. He finished 12th, earning a time of 16:25.4. Perham finished with two runners inside the top 35, but ran a tight pack for team scoring, helping them pull away from St. James Area. The Yellowjackets went wire-to-wire as the state’s No. 1 ranked team.

“It’s relieving to say that we did it. We did all the hard work, we put in all the miles and knew we could do it,” Speicher said. “To go out there and show it is fun. We are really excited that we did it and we are going to enjoy the moment and not take anything for granted.”

Class A Girls Team Results

Perham 86, Winona Cotter 87, Annandale 131, Stewartville 137, Fairmont 165, Luverne 203, Maple Lake 211, Minnehaha Academy 219, Jordan 238, Lac Qui Parle Valley/Dawson Boyd 257, Belle Plaine 261, Eden Valley-Watkins 265, North Shore 266, Proctor 270, West Central Area 272, United North Central 347


Perham Individual Results

19 Caitlin Covington 19:25.4

27 Liz Birkeland 19:41.8

29 Hailey Wegscheid 19:45.3

50 Ashley Hokanson 20:10.0

59 Abby Tweeton 20:14.6

88 Mya Morris 20:36.3

95 Lauryn Rustad 20:44.6


Class A Boys Team Results

Perham 118, St. James Area 148, Mankato Loyola 154, Lac Qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd 172, North Shore 175, Jordan 184, Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin 195, West Central 220, La Crescent 223, Staples-Motley 229, Mora 247, Mounds Park Academy 251, Heritage Christian Academy 264, Mountain Lake Area 272, RAACHE 323, Ada-Borup/Norman County West 351


Perham Individual Results

12 Carson Speicher 16:25. 4

31 Clayton Anderson 16:54.0

55 Brandon O’Hara 17:15.2

69 Bailey Evenson 17:21.8

78 Jakob McCleary 17:25.6

95 Chase Belka 17:37.7

112 Isaac Scheidecker 17:51.0

Check back for photos, stories and more from the Class A Championships. 

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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