Esko races to success at stateIt’s impossible to call the 2009 cross-country season anything but an unqualified success for Esko runners.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
It’s impossible to call the 2009 cross-country season anything but an unqualified success for Esko runners.
Coach Jerry Zimny took both his boys’ and girls’ teams to St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., on Nov. 7 for the state meet, as Section 7A champions in both cases.
For the boys, the highlight of the meet was sophomore Jackson Lindquist earning All-State status with an eighth-place finish among team runners in the 5K race. Lindquist’s time was 17:05.7, which was 22nd overall when individual runners were factored in.
In the team standings, the Eskomos finished 12th. Senior Raleigh Goessling was 38th among team runners as the next Esko runner to cross the line, in 17:47.5. Other Esko team scorers were junior Adam Eskuri (62nd, 18:18.6), senior Phil Wirtz (73rd, 18:32.8) and freshman Joey Johnson (79th, 18:44.6). Senior Tim Garay and junior Mac Ryks ran with the varsity but did not contribute to the team score.
“The guys were ready to run and compete,” Zimny said. “You could see it in their faces. I’m very proud of all of them. At this level, there are no slow runners and there’s no hanging back. Even the last place finisher is a runner on one of the top two teams in his section.”
The Esko girls finished eighth in the team standings, one point behind Annandale and 13 points behind sixth-placed Fairmont. They also had an all-state performer, with freshman Marisa Shady finishing 15th among team runners and 23rd overall in 15:54.3. The top 25 overall finishers in the race earn All-State status.
Among team runners, fellow freshman Kallyn Knutson was 23rd (43rd overall) in 16:11.3. Other Esko team scorers were eighth-grader Erika Shady (34th in the team race in 16:33.5), sophomore Kate Shelerud (59th in 17:03.8) and senior Amanda Bergstedt (88th in 17:45.5). Junior Rachael Mills and freshman Molly Meysembourg also ran varsity but did not contribute to the team score.
Zimny had praise for Mills, who came through in the section meet to help get the girls to state. “Our third runner couldn’t finish the race, and Rachel was our sixth runner,” Zimny said. “It’s important to have six runners who can place and it showed our depth. Rachel got a lot better as the season progressed and worked extremely hard.”
In all, the season was a resounding success. The program graduates one senior on the girls team and four on the boys team. “I’m real pleased with how everything went and considering all the things we dealt with, including injuries and sickness, it could have been a lot worse,” Zimny said. “The kids just had a real good year and it was a total team effort.”
Zimny was happy to welcome Eskuri back in time for sections, after a hip injury forced him to miss most of the season.
“We thought the boys would fight for second in the section but getting Adam back helped,” Zimny said. “It was his first meet since the first meet of the year and it really helped us.”
More importantly, Eskuri was an academic All-State selection, an honor reserved for those in the top fifteen in their section with a grade-point average of 3.75 or better.
Looking ahead, Zimny and longtime assistant Tim Linquist are optimistic.
“We have spots available and young kids coming back,” he said. “Tim does as much of the coaching as I do and we’ve got a good system.”
Notes: Several other local runners took part in the state meet. Senior Sarah Chasson of Cromwell-Floodwood was 11th in the girls’ Class A race, earning All-State status with a time of 15:40.1. Sophomore Lindsey Dahl-Holm of Carlton was 61st in 16:30.7 Senior Jordan Smith of Cromwell-Floodwood was 59th in the boys’ individual race, finishing in 17:36.9.