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Perham boys win second straight with a statement

The Perham boys cross country team after the Class A Championship race, first row, from left: head coach Jeff Morris, Bailey Evenson, Jakob McCleary, Owen Werner, Tesfaye Young, assistant coach Penny Birkeland, assistant coach Kay Morris. Second row, from left: assistant coach Brent Hanson, Carson Hespe, Isaac Scheidecker, Clayton Anderson, Chase Belka and Brandon O'Hara. Jason Groth/FOCUS

The Perham boys cross country team held the No.1 ranking all season long and the Class A Championships on Nov. 3 was their crowning moment. The Yellowjackets shouldered the expectations like it was any race and had a mic drop moment as described by Perham head coach Jeff Morris when they ran away with their seventh overall title and second consecutive championship at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.

Clayton Anderson and Bailey Evenson.

The Yellowjackets finished with 64 points to capture the Class A Championship. West Central Area was second with 140 points, while Mora was third and Lac Qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd was fourth.

“It was just incredible. Clayton (Anderson) didn’t have a good race last year and for him as a senior and Isaac Scheidecker, another senior, to run as well as they did and have the underclassmen up their with them is pretty crazy,” Morris said. “That’s what we wanted the guys to do and we wanted to have that kind of race. That was awesome.”

Brandon O'Hara

Brandon O’Hara led the way for Perham. He ran up front for the Yellowjackets all season long and finished in fourth place at 16 minutes and 11.9 seconds.

“It was awesome. It went out a lot faster than I thought it would but adrenaline pushed me through the first part and kept it towards the end,” O’Hara said. “To see my two teammates coming behind me was even better. It’s just an awesome day.”

What O’Hara saw was a pair of his teammates right on his heels when he came running up the final hill. Clayton Anderson was fifth overall at 16:12.9, while Bailey Evenson was sixth at 16:13.0.

“We wanted to go out smart and really just run our hearts out for our teammates and leave it all out there on the course,” Anderson said. “We were looking forward to trying to make history today with the girls.”

Jakob McCleary

Anderson said the final stretch almost brought tears to his eyes when he looked over and saw his teammate, Evenson, right on his heels. At that moment, he said that they got this.

“We ran in with everything that we had left,” Anderson said. “I’m really surprised and really happy with what happened.”

Jakob McCleary earned Class A All-State honors when he finished in 16th place. He finished with a time of 16:32.2 and was one of four Perham runners in the top 20 overall.

Chase Belka posted one of his best races for the Yellowjackets when he came in 65th place at 17:06.8. Scheidecker followed in 90th place at 17:23.6 and Tesfaye Young rounded out the field at 17:32.2.

“I’m extremely happy with my teammates and all of the work that we put in with all the summer miles and everything leading up to this point,” Anderson said. “I’m super excited for what the team has in the future and what could do this year.”

The Yellowjackets graduate two members from this year’s team with Anderson and Scheidecker. They return a solid core for next year with three juniors returning, along with a ninth grader and an eighth grader.

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.

Perham Individual Results

4 Brandon O’Hara, 16:11.9; 5 Clayton Anderson, 16:12.9; 6 Bailey Evenson, 16:13.0; 16 Jakob McCleary, 16:32.2; 65 Chase Belka, 17:06.8; 90 Isaac Scheidecker, 17:23.6; 107 Tesfaye Young, 17:32.2.

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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