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Perham makes history: Repeats as Class A Champions

The Perham girls cross country running team receives their Class A Championship trophy at St. Olaf College in Northfield. Jason Groth/FOCUS1 / 2
The Perham boys cross country running team with their Class A Championship trophy at St. Olaf College in Northfield. Jason Groth/FOCUS2 / 2

There are not too many first for a program that has won multiple team and individual championships, but the Perham cross country program added another on Nov. 3. The Perham boys and girls teams swept the Class A Championships for the second straight year at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., on Nov. 3 becoming the first program in Minnesota history to accomplish the feat.

“It is just incredible. The guys race had a bit of a mic drop, we ran so well. I think the nerves were a little less going into that race,” Perham head coach Jeff Morris said. “The girls race was what we thought it would be. It was going to be dicey and it’s so special to squeak out a four-point win. Last year, we did it by one and it’s awesome to be in those close races. That’s why you do sports, because of the drama.”

The girls had to wait it out as they narrowly edged out Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted for the team title. Perham finished with 94 points, while Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted finished second with 99 points. Winona-Cotter, who had three in the top 10, finished in third with 140 points. Once again, it was the Perham pack that helped them to the victory for the second straight year. The Yellowjackets had their top five in the top 40, with their sixth runner in 41st spot.

The individual title went to Winona Cotter’s Grace Ping. She finished with a time of 17 minutes and 19.4 seconds, while her sister, Lauren, came in second place at 17:41.5.

Senior Caitlin Covington led Perham across the finish line. She finished with a time of 19:24.1 for 16th place. Eighth grader Liz Birkeland was on her heels in 28th place at 19:26.6.

“It feels incredible. It’s amazing that we went back-to-back with the guy’s team, too,” Covington said. “It’s a really great experience.”

The Yellowjackets have ran with the mentally of touching a teammate and once again, it paid off. Senior Hailey Wegscheid was 36th, followed by eighth grader Quincy Anderson in 53rd. Lauryn Rustad was 68th overall, while Mya Morris was 86th and Emily VanWatermulen came in 112th, rounding out the Perham field.

The boys team left little to debate when they place four runners inside the top 10 and four  in the top 20. Perham finished with 64 points for first, while West Central Area was second with 140 points. Mora finished third, while Lac Qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd finished fourth.

Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin’s Geno Uhrbom captured the individual title. He finished with a time of 15 minutes and 38.0 seconds, leaving little doubt from the onset, who was going to win the individual title. Mora’s Cooper Lennox came in second place at 15:56.4, while Staples-Motley’s Emmet Anderson was third at 16:07.5.

The Yellowjackets followed with the next three runners. Brandon O’Hara came in fourth at 16:11.9, while Clayton Anderson was fifth at 16:12.9 and in sixth was Bailey Evenson at 16:13.0.

“We went into this race with a lot of confidence with our ranking, but we were just excited to come and show the state what we could do out here and do this as a team, more than individuals, but we happened to get both today,” Anderson said. “It was really awesome.”

Jakob McCleary came in 16th place overall for Perham, while Chase Belka was 65th. Isaac Scheidecker finished in 90th place, while Tesfaye Young rounded out the field for Perham in 107th place.

It’s the seventh overall title for the Perham boys cross country team and the third overall title for the Perham girls cross country team.

Check back for much more on the Class A Cross Country Championships. 

Class A

Boys Team Results

Perham 64, West Central Area 140, Mora 161, Lac Qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd 170, Nova Classical Academy 183, East Grand Forks 201, Staples-Motley 209, Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin 212, North Shore 215, Plainview-Elgin-Millville 217, St. James 225, Mankato-Loyala/Cleveland 237, Minnehaha Academy 268, Heritage Christian 280, Lake City 300, Redwood Valley 329.

Boys Individual Top 10 Results

1 Geno Uhrbom, G/NK, 15:38.0; 2 Cooper Lennox, Mora, 15:56.4; 3 Emmet Anderson, S-M, 16:07.5; 4 Brandon O’Hara, PER, 16:11.9; 5 Clayton Anderson, PER, 16:12.9; 6 Bailey Evenson, PER, 16:13.0; 7 Luke Olson, Ely, 16:13.9; 8 Jacob Bright, WCA, 16:15.3; 9 Henry Snider, MPA, 16:15.8; 10 Cole Nowacki, EGF, 16:17.1.

Girls Team Results

Perham 94, Howard Lake-Waverly 99, Winona Cotter 140, Luverne 147, Staples-Motley 176, Lake City 198, Mesabi East 219, Lac Qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd 221, West Central Area 229, Providence Academy 255,  Jordan 267, Belle Plaine 277, GSL 281, East Grand Forks 290, North Shore 291, The Blake School 310.

Girls Individual Top 10 Results

1 Grace Ping, Cotter, 17:19.4; 2 Lauren Ping, Cotter, 17:41.5; 3 Morgan Gehl, MCC/F, 17:53.9; 4 Ava Hill, ME, 18:24.4; 5 Morgan Arnold, 18:27.1; 6 Grace Dietz, C/M, 18:30.5; 7 Tenley Nelson, Luv, 18:34.9; 8 Natasha Sortland, Z-M/K-W, 18:46.0; 9 Katherine Geist, CRK, 18:58.4; 10 Maddie Kelly, PA, 19:08.7.

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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