Cross country season kicks off with exhibition meetJerry Zimny is a pretty simple guy. He organizes a local cross country exhibition meet every year at Chub Lake Park where, basically, teams show up, race and almost always have fun. Call it award-winning simplicity.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
CARLTON – Jerry Zimny is a pretty simple guy. He organizes a local cross country exhibition meet every year at Chub Lake Park where,
basically, teams show up, race and almost always have fun.
Call it award-winning simplicity.
“Anyone who wants to come just shows up,” said Zimny about the season-opener for most schools. “We don’t send out any information or anything like that, they just come.”
Zimny, who has been coaching at the Esko helm for 20 years now, conducts the exhibition event the same as a regular season meet, so kids get accustomed to a competitive atmosphere.
“The whole idea of it is to help the kids [who are] new to cross country go through the motions of how a meet is run,” said Zimny. “They find out how things work and get a chance to see how they can compete.”
Chub Lake Park was set up with a flagged two-mile course for the over 200 competitors from half a dozen schools Friday.
“It’s a nice spot,” said Zimny. “It’s not
particularly an easy course; it’s got some hills in it. It’s so low key and everyone just shows up and helps out.”
One of those helpers is Cloquet coach Mike Bushey.
“I just set the course up, nothing too extravagant,” said Bushey, laughing. “It’s a nice way to get the kids in the mode of racing. Everyone gets to compete – and it was a perfect day for a race.”
Local schools participating included Cloquet, Esko, Carlton, Moose Lake-Willow River-Barnum, Cromwell-Wright, Hermantown and Proctor, who faced off in a quartet of races throughout the afternoon.
Cloquet’s Erik Swanson won the boys sophomore race in tie and senior Halee Peterson claimed fourth for the girls, while junior Cody Myllymaa also fared well.
Esko sophomore Marisa Shady took the top slot in the varsity race, followed closely by Kailee Kiminski, Erika Shady and Kallyn Knutson.
“It was really hot out,” said all-state runner Marisa Shady afterwards, “but considering this was my first race, I felt good and pretty strong.”
The foursome play two fall sports – three compete in soccer, while Knutson shines in
“We’re busy,” said fellow all-state runner Knutson. “We just have to be really mentally tough and we have a lot of support from each other.”
The Esko boys squad is young, yet returns a pair of top-notch runners in senior Adam Eskuri and junior Jackson Lindquist. Junior Kate Shelerud is also looking to come back for the Esko girls soon this week: she is recovering from an injury. Shelerud won the 800-meter state title in the spring and plays soccer as well.
Esko won both the girls and boys Section 7A titles a year ago and are favored again this fall, but their coach knows there’s still a long season ahead.
“It’s still early,” said Zimny. “We’re not getting too excited. We have to stay healthy, that’s the main thing. But there’s certainly a lot of potential and it’s going to be interesting at the end of the season. We’re looking forward to it.”
Both Esko and Cloquet open their seasons on Thursday, Sept. 2, on the road.