By Coach Jon Van Kempen -Northfield, MN
“The girls raced at 11 AM,” reported Coach Van Kempen. “They are a team with very little racing experience unlike our boys team, but also carry a swagger and competitiveness that have provided a lot of thrilling races during the season, never finishing a meet in worse than third place throughout the season. We were by far the youngest team in the state with three seventh graders, two eighth graders, a ninth grader and sophomore racing for us. Our eldest racer, junior Steph Toms has been out with an injury but was there to provide leadership and comfort to her teammates. It seemed like a surreal event for them, there is just a lot of commotion and distractions going on prior to the race. We were in a similar starting lane to the boys and emphasized the importance of getting to the corner in good position. They had good starts, seventh grader Lexi Bright was the first to get to the mile mark for us in just over six minutes. Sophomore Ella Van Kempen and eighth grader Brynn Fernholz, our two veterans on the team having qualified last year as individuals, were next, followed by ninth grader Teagan Nelson, all under six and a half minutes at the mile. Eighth grader Chloe LaRue was there in 6:40 and seventh graders Kennedy Porter and Kaitlin Hansonwere next, each around the seven minute mark. We employ the same strategy as the boys, get yourself through the first mile, and then race against the rest of the individuals for the last two miles. Down the homestretch, there were packs of girls running together and then individuals filling the gaps between the packs. It seemed like we were too often the girls filling in the gaps. Lexi crossed the line first in 92nd place and in 20:44. Ella, Brynn and Teagan were next in 106th, 118th and 139th and with times of 21:00 to 21:30. Chloe was our fifth finisher in 162nd, followed by Kennedy in 170th and Kaitlin in 176th. Ironically, the girls had set a goal early in the season of making it to state and beating one team. They had reached their goal, finishing in 15th place with 345 points, beating other state qualifier Proctor. We were the smallest school district in the state meet as far as enrollment figures, in most cases, we were competing against teams with three times our enrollment. It's been kind of a Cinderella season for the girls, being so young but never backing down to anyone. We couldn't have been prouder of the way they have held up and competed all season.”
Fairmont won the team competition with 84 points, followed by Perham with 86, Annandale with 127, Luverne with 148 and Pelican Rapids with 149.
Tierney Wolfgram of Math and Science Academy won the race with an incredible time of 18:23.6. Runner-up honors went to Marissa Whitehead of Martin County West/Martin Luther with a time of 19:08.6. Both are eighth graders. Perham senior Brynnan Covington was third with a time of 19:08.8.