The Runner’s RundownCross Country running highlights from around the County
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
TOP-RANKED LINDQUIST AHEAD OF THE PACK
Jackson Lindquist has been one of the top boys cross country stars in the Northland for years. But there’s no magic behind his longtime success. He just likes to run.
“I have fun doing it,” said the 17-year-old Esko junior. “It keeps me in shape and I put a lot of time into it.”
That he does.
Lindquist said that he likes running in his Jay Cooke State Park neighborhood and logs roughly 40-50 miles per week to train. And his coach has noticed.
“It’s not a secret to get good at cross country – you have to run,” said Esko coach Jerry Zimny. “And he runs a lot. On the weekends, in the summer, during the offseason, Jackson really puts in the time and is willing to do it.”
Throw in his talent and he’s tough to beat.
Since making the Eskomos varsity team back in eighth grade, Lindquist has qualified for the state tournament every year, placing his best (21st) last year and earning his first-ever All-State honors.
“I’ve gotten better every year,” said Lindquist, who runs frequently with his family throughout the year and even on vacations. “But I know I can still get better.”
Lindquist also runs track in the spring and plays hoops in the wintertime. The three-sport phenom enjoys them all, but gets much pleasure from running.
“It’s tough sometimes, but even if it’s your small run for the day, you feel good about yourself after you run,” said Lindquist, who plans to pursue running at the collegiate level in the future.
Lindquist has already won his first two meets this year, dominating at Babbitt and most recently taking home the Nemadji title. He anchors an Eskomos team that lost a lot from last year, but has been impressive thus far.
At Nemadji last week, Lindquist recalled staying with the pack most of the way, and eventually pulling away near the end. His time of 17 minutes, 6.9 seconds was nearly four seconds better than anyone around.
“I felt good out there and kept good pace,” said Lindquist. “There were a lot of good runners there, but everyone eventually died. It was a fun and an awesome meet.”
Due to his dominance, Lindquist has earned the title of the Duluth News Tribune’s top-ranked runner. The proverbial target is on his back.
And when asked if he keeps up with the hype, he answered quickly.
“Yeah, I look at that stuff,” he said.
Yet, the youngster knows what his goal is: the state meet at St. Olaf College.
“It’s fun going down there,” said Lindquist, itching to improve his finish from last year. “I’ve made it every year I’ve been on the team. Hopefully I can keep it up.”
So does Zimny.
“He knows what he needs to do,” said Zimny. “It’ll be fun to watch.”
Esko will next hit the course Tuesday, Sept. 21, when they travel to Northwestern.
CROMWELL-WRIGHT-FLOODWOOD YOUNG, BUT IMPROVING
Pete Koenig’s Cromwell-Wright-Floodwood cross country team maybe be thin, young and filled with inexperience, but don’t let that fool you.
From top to bottom, they’re as gutsy as they come.
Though the Cardinals have just 11 runners on both the boys and girls teams combined, including just four upperclassmen, Koenig has been quite impressed this fall.
“We’re kind of like a family,” he said. “It’s tough being a smaller team, but every day someone steps up and takes us to the next level. And we’re improving.”
Having fewer than the required number to compete as a team, the Cards compete as individuals throughout the regular season and look forward to one meet every year: “The section meet,” said Koenig, in his 11th year coaching. “We develop as best we can, tune up, and throw everyone out there. It’s what we push for.”
So far this season, the Cards have traveled to Babbitt, Nemadji and Hermantown for meets. Top runners included freshman Nick Koenig, who placed 22nd at Babbitt, as well as Floodwood senior Jonathan Chambers for the boys, while senior Haley Shelton paces the girls. According to Koenig, their middle school-aged kids are running well, too.
“The kids are improving,” added Koenig, “and they’re working hard every day.”
The Cards will be back in action on Tuesday when they head up to Grand Rapids.
WRENSHALL NUMBERS ARE THIN, BUT GROWING
When Daimen Lafave held his first day of cross country practice, just a handful of kids showed up. Three, for the record.
But since, seven more have joined and a Wrenshall team has formed.
“We’re heading in the right direction,” said the first-year head coach, who previously coached track and field and thought cross country would be neat this fall.
“It’s a whole different ball of wax,” he laughed. “It’s different.”
With just three athletes on the team, the Wrens participated in the Chub Lake exhibition meet to open the year, and then traveled to Cook Country and Hermantown Tuesday. Thursday, they’ll head up to Eveleth-Gilbert with their new team for the first time.
“We’re not your typical cross country runners, a lot of them join to stay in shape for other sports,” said Lafave, “but these kids are really bonding as a team. They’re young, inexperienced runners, yet they’re supporting each other.”
The boys squad is guided by seventh-grader Masen Virginia, freshman Cody Anderson and sophomore Mitch Frank. There are only two girls on the team, featuring sisters Candice Wyman, a senior, and eighth-grader Savannah Wyman.
“They’re working hard,” added Lafave about the Wyman sisters, “but they’re all good runners. I’m really enjoying things.”