Cloquet runners are ready, willing and ableAfter the first day of practice for the Cloquet cross country team, head coach Mike Bushey was ready to head home – but his squad had other thoughts: more running.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
CLOQUET – After the first day of practice for the Cloquet cross country team, head coach Mike Bushey was ready to head home – but his squad had other thoughts: more running.
Bushey stuck around Pine Valley for well over an hour with the team, running the course. According to Bushey, they did so not only to improve, but because it was fun for them.
“They’re motivated and want to continue to improve and get better,” said the 13-year coach. “They ran over the summer and held their own captains’ practices, too.”
That’s something Bushey has been happy to witness.
“Knowing that you have a group of motivated kids, it makes me excited to come to practice,” he said. “They’re super excited about running. It’s not work to them. It’s fun. And they can’t wait to do it.”
Bushey welcomed roughly 40 kids Monday morning, yet he expects more to come in the following weeks, sporting about 60 long-distance runners by season’s start.
Last year, both the boys and girls squads finished near the middle of the pack in the Lake Superior Conference and faired decently at the section meet.
Bushey explained the boys lost only one senior from a year ago, while the girls lost over a half dozen. Yet he noted that, even though both teams are young, they’re quite good.
“We got some really talented kids, young and some older kids, too,” said Bushey. “Running is one of those sports that you get out of it what you put into it. If you work hard, you can do well.”
Senior Jared Anderson leads the boys squad along with junior Joey Martin, while senior Halee Peterson anchors the girls bunch.
Peterson, who has been running on the varsity since seventh grade, has a shot at state this fall, according to her coach.
“I’m really excited for my senior year,” said Peterson. “I’ve been running since I was a little kid, like forever. We have a young team but it’s fun to get going. I really want to go to state!”
But to be successful in cross country, it starts with motivation.
“I’ve been coaching cross country since I was 19 years old, a bunch of years ago,” laughed Bushey. “And I told these kids today on our run, that I haven’t seen a group this motivated in six or seven years.
“They feel like they can actually race this year,” he added. “Most of them can drive now, too, and just get together and run.”
Cloquet opens competition at 10 a.m. next Thursday, Aug. 26, when they travel to Carlton for an exhibition meet at Chub Lake Park. They’ll travel to Superior for their
season-opener at 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9.