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Despite the lasting winter weather, Cloquet senior Jace Anderson said if it’s not a blizzard during track and field practice, he and his teammates will go outside for their run.

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Anderson and the Lumberjacks have run to a quick start to begin their season, as both the Cloquet boys and girls swept the team titles at their opening indoor meet at the University of Wisconsin-Superior two weeks ago.

Anderson, a member of last year’s state-qualifying 3,200-meter relay team along with fellow returnees Dylan Marvel and Isaac Boedigheimer, helped win the event again at UWS in their first try this season in a display of the depth the Lumberjacks have in their 140-plus athletes.

“Both the boys and the girls teams are as solid as ever,” said Cloquet Coach Tim Prosen, now in his 10th season, of his biggest squad yet. “We’ve had some good teams in the past, but this year, we’re so balanced. There are not a lot of kids we bring to meets who are not going to be contenders. Any school in Minnesota would love to have that kind of depth.”

The Lumberjacks, now in their fourth week of practice, are likely contenders for Lake Superior Conference and even possible Section 7AA crowns with talent dispersed all over.

Along with Anderson, Marvel and Boedigheimer, Conner Denman and John Waltjer — all on Cloquet’s state-qualifying boys cross country team last fall — are distance dominators, while Isaac Gilchrist is a hard-to-beat hurdler, Evan Erickson an efficient thrower, and speedy Richmond Seju, who moved here from Liberia, a clear 100- and 200-meter dash favorite.

Favoring the girls is University of Minnesota Duluth-bound sprinter Maija Doran, deadly in the 100 and 200, while Kayla Baker and Kaitlyn Knutson can also fly. State cross country runner Anja Maijala is also a major factor in distance, as the Lumberjacks are loaded in field events, too.

“If we keep improving, I think we have a good shot at a lot of these meets,” said Anderson after practice Tuesday night.

“We have a lot of energy at track practice,” added senior sprinter Tara Longseth. “From freshmen to seniors, I think we’re going to come together. I think [winning at UWS] is just a preview of what the rest of the year will be like.”

Doran agreed about their team chemistry and is eager to get outside.

“I just wish this snow would melt,” she said, desperately.

For Anderson, an outdoor run comes naturally.

“If you can see, you’re going outside,” he said.

AREA PREVIEW:

Esko — Kailee Kiminski ran outside Tuesday for practice, as the junior eased back into track form for Esko after state basketball last weekend. The Esko girls, last year’s Class A state True Team champions, should again be solid, especially behind Kiminski, a state returner in the 800-meter run and the 1,600- and 3,200-meter relay squads, now in four state track trips.

“I’m just excited to run,” said Kiminski, not worrying too much about the weather with more snow in the forecast for Friday.

South Ridge — Snow hasn’t hindered the Panthers, already racing twice at UWS. South Ridge returns an entire state cross country girls team from last fall — including state miler from last spring, Gracelynn Otis — and boys’ triple and long jumping threats in both state returnee Bill Redding, as well as Colton Peterson.

Moose Lake-Willow River — A season-threatening stress fracture to her left shin has Nicole Tekippe, a State one- and two-miler from last spring, currently sidelined for the Rebels, but she remains confident in her return despite the depressing weather.

“I think we all want the snow to melt,” Tekippe said.

Cromwell-Wright — Coach Dave Foster agreed, though his Cardinals — centered by their four-girl, state-returning 3,200-meter relay team — are preparing for Friday’s upcoming snowstorm.

“I heard nine to 12 inches, just what we need.” Foster said.

“It’s April, the light is at the end of the tunnel,” Panthers Coach Jeremy Polson added. “I just hope a train isn’t coming.”

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