Proctor's Benish, Esko's Shady are runners of the yearThe 2011 high school cross country season was a revelation for Proctor senior Romeo Benish and a year of confirmation for Esko junior Marisa Shady.
The 2011 high school cross country season was a revelation for Proctor senior Romeo Benish and a year of confirmation for Esko junior Marisa Shady.
Benish tried the sport for the first time, after giving up soccer, and ran his way to the Minnesota Class A boys meet. He won three races, including the Section 7A title, and placed 10th in the state championships Nov. 5 at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.
After a surprising victory in the 2010 Minnesota Class A girls meet, Shady came back to cement her spot among the best runners in Esko history. She split time as a varsity soccer player and finished in the top three of each cross country race, including a second straight Section 7A win and third place in Class A.
Benish and Shady were chosen as 2011 News Tribune runners of the year.
Benish, a native of Guatemala who moved to Minnesota five years ago after being adopted, had made a name in track as the 2010 Section 7A champion at 1,600 meters and was a member of the Class A 3,200-meter relay team that placed second.
“Romeo learned how to race the 5,000-meter cross country distance. He came on during the month of October and just kept getting better and better. A lot of credit for his improvement goes to having Matt Welch to run with,” said Proctor coach Lowell Harnell.
Welch, a Proctor junior, was the defending Section 7A cross country champ. He was second this year and 14th in Class A, and finished second in the News Tribune rankings. Benish is undecided about school next fall but plans to run as a collegian.
Shady was strong from start to finish while juggling two sports. Among her victories was a course-record 14 minutes, 29 seconds for 4,000 meters in winning the Polar League title at the Pincushion course in Grand Marais.
“When Marisa came on so strong at the end of last year some people thought, ‘Is she for real?’ And this year she proved that she’s for real,” said Esko coach Jerry Zimny. “She started right where she left off and never felt any pressure to succeed. Her concentration all season was on the team’s success.”
Esko won a third straight Section 7A girls team title and finished third in Class A.
Superior junior Leah Holmes, 18th in the Wisconsin Division 1 meet, was the News Tribune girls runner-up.
Prep rankings: Cross country
1. Romeo Benish, 12, Proctor
2. Matt Welch, 11, Proctor
3. Bryce Miller, 11, Ashland
4. Josh Smith, 12, Ashland
5. Jackson Lindquist, 12, Esko
6. Drew Johnson, 12, Mesabi East
7. Ryan Davis, 12, Duluth East
8. Evan Walpole, 11, Superior
9. Matt Lepisto, 11, Duluth Denfeld
10. Colin Cottingham, 11, Grand Rapids
1. Marisa Shady, 11, Esko
2. Leah Holmes, 11, Superior
3. Erin Baker, 10, Grand Rapids
4. Natalie Stauber, 11, Hermantown
5. Jordan Johnson, 11, Northwestern
6. Kallyn Knuston, 11, Esko
7. Kailee Kiminski, 9, Esko
8. Jaylynn Lauer, 8, Grand Rapids
9. Gracelynn Otis, 8, South Ridge
10. Erika Shady, 10, Esko