Local cross country teams running strongThe Spartans hosted their first home meet of the season Thursday at Nemadji Golf Course. The SHS girls won the team title among the 13 varsity girls teams competing, while the Tiger girls finished fourth.
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
For the first time since 1979, John Woodbury is not the head coach of the Northwestern High School cross country team. Phil McGrath is the new head coach for Northwestern this year, and he has the perennial powerhouse on track for another strong season in 2012.
The Superior High School cross country team, meanwhile, continues on under the leadership of veteran coach Dan Conway.
The Spartans hosted their first home meet of the season Thursday at Nemadji Golf Course. The SHS girls won the team title among the 13 varsity girls teams competing, while the Tiger girls finished fourth.
In the boy race the Tigers finished 20 points behind Esko to take second place, and the Spartans finished one point behind Duluth East to take fourth.
Individually, Proctor’s Matt Welch took the boys title. He was the only runner to finish in less than 16 minutes and crossed the line almost 40 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher. Evan Walpole of Superior placed fourth and teammate Chris Carey was sixth. Ryan Lind finished fifth for the Tigers.
Northwestern’s Jordan Johnson was the top Wisconsin finisher for the girls. She finished in second place, 35 seconds behind winner Marisa Shady of Esko. Leah Holmes took fifth to lead the Spartan girls.
The Tigers have a new head coach the season, but little has change for the boys and girls cross country teams.
This year’s senior class has been successful in cross country since the runners were freshmen. Both the Tiger boys and girls teams advanced to state that year. Lind was a member of the boys team, and Johnson, Angela Snow and Tess Nelson all ran for the girls state team.
A member of the class of 2013 has represented the Tigers at the state cross country meet every year since.
McGrath said the reason the seniors have found success, year after year, is because they have talent and they work hard.
“The team understands that training on their own in the offseason is important,” McGrath said. “Like past years, many athletes have reached the 300-mile mark for the summer.”
The Tigers have high standards to meet this season. The boys are attempting to advance to the state meet as a team for the fourth consecutive season, and the girls are hoping to make a return trip after a near miss last year.
“The boys are hungry for another trip to state,” McGrath said. “With only one senior varsity runner graduating last year, the team is looking strong.”
For the Tiger boys, Lind returns as the top individual runner. He is joined by classmates Ty Rankin, Kyle Rautio, Nathan Markon and Matthew Thom. Juniors Mason Lombard and Josiah Vik also return along with sophomore David Rautio, and McGrath said many other young athletes are ready to fill in and help the team.
“They are one of the hardest working groups of men,” McGrath said. “During workouts, they typically go above and beyond my expectations. They work hard because they have goals and understand what it takes to reach those goals. Honestly, some of these guys need very little coaching — they know what needs to get done and they’re motivated to do it.”
The Northwestern girls have something to prove after they missed a trip to state last year by finishing third behind Rice Lake and Bloomer in the Division 2 Sectional at Bloomer. Johnson finished second overall in the meet to qualify for state individually.
She’ll be joined by longtime teammates Beth Gurske, Tess Nelson and Snow as the Tigers work to get back to state in 2012. All four have experience running in the state meet, and Nelson is a two-time Division 2 state champion in the 300 hurdles.
Also returning for the Tigers are sophomores Carmen Ormston and Kelly Erkkila.
“There is a very strong group of seniors who have all had the taste of state, and last year was a disappointment to them, but I think they’re refocused on their goals,” McGrath said. “We have a few freshmen added to the mix this year that will really add to the team.”
Among those freshmen are Emma Nelson, Tess’s sister, and Anna Kalin. Both did well at their first meet, the Ashland Invitational, and McGrath expects to see continued improvement throughout the season.
“I think as a whole, we can expect Northwestern cross country to have a big year,” McGrath said. “All the kids deserve recognition and will be enjoyable to watch throughout the season.”
The Northwestern Tigers host their annual home meet at 4 p.m. Sept. 18 at Norwood Golf Course in Lake Nebagamon.
Leading the Superior girls again this year is Leah Holmes, who hopes to advance to state as an individual for the fourth straight time this year. Dating back to 1979, Holmes is the only Spartan girl to advance to the Division 1 state meet more than once. The SHS girls have never qualified for the state meet as a team.
Sophomores Malley O’Brien and Rachel Dixon should provide a big boost for Superior this year after strong performances in their inaugural season. Returning senior Natalie Kintop and junior Kali Krivinchuck also give the Spartans depth, and a few freshmen this season are expected to contribute for the team.
The Spartan boys return their top two runners from 2011 with senior Evan Walpole and junior Chris Carey. Juniors Seth Felton and Carter Anderson also return along with sophomore Robert McClarey.
Freshman Kade Walpole is among the newcomers with fellow freshman Jake Kennedy.
In JV action, Superior’s boys were third and girls second. For NHS, the boys were second and girls fourth. Duluth East won both JV titles.
Superior High School
Thursday, Sept. 6
At Nemadji Golf Course
Boys Team Results
Esko, 70; Northwestern, 90; Duluth East, 102; Superior, 103; Cloquet, 144; Proctor, 173; Duluth Denfeld, 187; Ashland, 189; Hibbing, 200; Virginia, 218; Mesabi East, 288; Hurley, 311; Marshall, 372; Carlton, 374.
Girls Team Results
Superior, 66; Esko, 74; Duluth East, 79; Northwestern, 137; South Ridge, 156; Hurley, 168; Hibbing, 213; Cloquet, 232; Ashland, 246; Marshall, 255; Eveleth-Gilbert, 263; Virginia, 291; Carlton, 310.
Boys Varsity Top 6
1 Matt Welch, Proctor, 15:45.2; 2 Bryce Miller, Ashland, 16:24.3; 3 Matt Lepisto, Duluth Denfeld, 16:40.7; 4 Evan Walpole, SHS, 16:46.1; 5 Ryan Lind, Northwestern, 16:52.8; 6. Chris Carey, Superior, 16:54.1.
Evan Walpole, 16:46.1; Chris Carey, 16:54.1; Robert McClarey, 17:37.3; Carter Anderson, 18:45.8; Kade Walpole, 18:59.3; Seth Felton, 19:07.2; Jake Kennedy, 19:48.8.
Ryan Lind, 16:52.8; Mason Lombard, 17:24.9; Kyle Routio, 18:00.4; Ty Rankin, 18:03; Josiah Vik, 18:16.3; Travis Sznaider, 18:28.9; Nathan Markon, 19:16.9.
Girls Varsity Top 10
1 Marisa Shady, Esko, 15:19.2; 2 Jordan Johnson; Northwestern; 15:54.6; 3 Ann Kleinschmidt, Marshall, 15:56.2; 4 Gracelynn Otis, South Ridge, 15:58.9; 5 Megan West, Mesabi East, 16:10.5; 6 Leah Holmes, Superior, 16:12.8; 7 Emma Nelson, Northwestern, 16:15.8; 8 Malley O'Brien, Superior, 16:16.4; 9 Abby Holak, Duluth East, 16:24.3; 10 Natalie Kintop, Superior, 16:28.6.
Leah Holmes, 16:12.8; Malley O'Brien, 16:16.4; Natalie Kintop, 16:28.6; Rachel Dixon, 16:40.7; Kali Krivinchuk, 17:30.7; Isabella Evanvold, 18:05; Emilyn Walters, 18:55.7.
Jordan Johnson, 15:54.6; Emma Nelson, 16:15.8; Carmen Ormston, 18:12.5; Tess Nelson, 18:24; Anna Kalin, 18:25.9; Beth Gurske, 18:31.7; Angela Snow, 18:48.5.