Knights Race in State Cross Country Meet at St. Olaf
By John Van Kempen - Northfield, MN
The West Central Area Knight Cross Country Teams competed Saturday morning in Northfield at the Minnesota State Class A Cross Country Meet. The boys started it off competing at 10 AM followed by the girls.
“The boys had a quiet calmness about themselves going into the race, there was really very little that needed to be said to them,” said Head Coach John Van Kempen. “This is what they had set their sights on early in the season, all the work was done and it was time to race. This was their second state appearance and the seniors have a lot of race experience. We felt the lane assignment was good to get a good jump on the 175 competitors. All of the boys had run here last year except one. Each kid knew where they were supposed to come through in the first mile.”
Van Kempen continued, “When the gun sounded, we had a good jump, trying to set themselves up for the rest of the race by getting to the first corner in good position. Our lead runner, Ryley Nelson, set the tone and everyone followed. At the mile mark, Ryley was in first in five minutes followed closely by his teammates, everyone hitting their times. As the race progressed, Ryley hung with the lead group, battling back and forth. Our second runner, freshman Jacob Bright wasn't too far behind, nor was senior Ethan Olson. Senior Drake Swanson came through in five and half minutes, freshman Jack Van Kempen, eighth grader Kyle Schilland junior Chase Veldhouse had their eyes on Drake. Jack was tripped in the first mile, sommersaulted, but bounced up running with his back and jersey a little scuffed up. The rest of race we just tried to hang on, passing people in the second mile and holding on until the last 400 meters of the race when we try to get as many runners as possible. Ryley was in the mix of the top seven, passing one down the homestretch to end up in sixth place overall (16:03.5). The top seven were all within 8 seconds of each other. Jacob was next in 20th (16:37.0) and the first runner across the line who wasn't either a junior or senior. Of the top 23 finishers in the state, seventeen of them were seniors. Ethan Olson (16:59.0) was next and had a fantastic race to end his senior season, finishing under seventeen minutes and in 39th place. The rest of the crew followed with Drake in 134th (18:09.0), Jack in 137th (18:11.2), Kyle in 156th (18:31.5) and Chase in 168th (18:48.2). The team finished in fifth overall with 186 points losing to Windom (4th, 166), La Cresent (3rd, 123), Perham (2nd, 99) and Mora (1st, 93). We have had a tremendous few years with these guys and especially these seniors. Ryley, Ethan and Austin Clavinhave been with the program for six years, and Drake four years. They have been conference runner up to Perham (the most successful program in the state the last fifteen years) three times, and finished fourth in the state and now fifth. They have built the program with not only their running ability, but by how they carry themselves in other aspects of their life too.”
The individual champion for the boys was junior Declan Dahlberg of Mounds Park Academy (15:56.9). Matt Steigerfrom La Crescent was second (15:57.1) and Carl Kozlowski of Lake City was third (15:57.3).