The Runner’s RundownHigh school cross country running summaries
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Cloquet’s Halee Peterson pushes hard her senior year
If you’ve been to a Cloquet cross country meet, chances are you’ve seen Halee Peterson running. She’s been on the Lumberjacks’ varsity squad since seventh grade in 2005. And she’s loved every minute of it.
“Most kids think its torture,” laughed Peterson, now a senior. “But for me, it’s pretty easy. I really enjoy it.”
Peterson, 17, explained she runs quite frequently in the offseason, anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, and competes in half-dozen 5K races during the summer.
“Running is fun,” she said. “It keeps me in shape.”
It also keeps her atop the charts. Since her middle school days, Peterson has perennially been among the top runners around. She is currently ranked seventh in the latest Duluth News Tribune rankings.
“I don’t look at them,” said Peterson with a laugh, “but my mom does.”
Already this fall, Peterson has placed well for the ’Jacks in their two meets. At their season opener at Nemadji, Peterson placed 11th, while most recently she came in second at Eveleth-Gilbert last Thursday.
She’s even running with the boys at practice these days.
“It’s harder,” she said, “but it’s really helping me push myself. I think it helps me.”
Her coach has been nothing but impressed.
“Halee has put in some work and continues to improve and get better all of the time,” said Cloquet coach Mike Bushey. “She puts herself in position to be successful and her confidence is starting to build.”
In addition to her passion for running, Peterson is also a member of the National Honor Society, as well as a laundry list of other school programs, and even plays on a club soccer team in the spring. She might even pursue running in college.
That said, the younger runners mirror themselves after Peterson.
“She’s a leader and really just a nice kid,” continued Bushey. “The kids are really impressed with her and look up to her.”
Despite her success, Peterson has yet to advance to the state cross country meet, placing her highest at sections a year ago. With one shot left, she hopes that changes come late fall.
“I’m working harder than ever to make it,” Peterson said. “I don’t know how I match up with the Twin Cities runners but I would like to make it, that’d be so cool.”
“There are no givens, but right now she’s doing well and we’ll just have to see how she stacks up,” he said confidently. “The kids are sure excited for her.”
The ’Jacks will compete Saturday at the Milaca Mega Meet, and a week later, Saturday Oct. 2, they head to the annual Swain Invitational in Duluth.
AlBrook runners flying past competition, at all levels
Throughout the entire fall season, the AlBrook cross country team never gets to practice together fully. But don’t let that fool you, they’re a competitive bunch.
Drawing runners from AlBrook, Cotton, Cherry and Tower-Soudan, the widespread Falcons practice individually at their respective schools and meet each other at competitions via separate van routes. And so far, it’s worked pretty well.
“It’s kind of a fun team,” said seventh-year coach Jeremy Polson. “Our talent is spread around pretty good and we always have someone who’s going to shine.”
Already competing at Grand Marais, Nemadji, Eveleth-Gilbert and most recently at Grand Rapids Tuesday, the Falcons have had success. Polson explained the top boys’ runners include AlBrook senior Zach Bourgeault and junior Zach Richards, while AlBrook sophomore Emma Blom and seventh-grader Gracie Otis pace the girls.
Tuesday, Blom placed 12th, while at Eveleth-Gilbert, Bourgeault finished 11th.
Their junior high kids are just as tough, claiming the top spots in nearly every meet this fall. Yes, that even features their sixth-graders, too.
“It’s a pretty strong group that is very competitive at all grades and genders,” said Polson, who runs with his AlBrook students at practice. “We often walk home with awards. They all work hard and that makes things enjoyable.”
The Falcons will head to the always-popular Milaca Mega Meet Saturday.
Moose Lake-Willow River-Barnum works hard
Terry Ohman has coached Moose Lake-Willow-Barnum cross country for 16 years now and recently said this year’s team is one of the hardest working she’s ever had. Their early season achievements prove it.
Competing at Babbitt, Mora, North Branch and most recently at Grand Rapids, the Rebels have had their moments to cheer about.
Ohman recognized Kathryn Moonen as their top runner. The Moose Lake senior placed third at both Mora and North Branch, while she finished ninth among roughly 60 runners at Grand Rapids Tuesday.
“She ran a lot in the summer,” said Ohman. “And it’s really paying off for her.”
Moose Lake junior Katie Ring has also guided the Rebels individually, despite not having enough girls to field a full competitive team.
Meanwhile, the boys, who have enough kids to sport both a varsity and junior varsity squad, are guided by Moose Lake senior Cody Coughlin and junior Nathanial Koeck, as well as freshman standout Alex Began from Barnum.
With the early success, the Rebels look to send their first runner to state this fall under Ohman.
“Hopefully they’ll do a lot at sections,” said Ohman. “The kids are getting better every meet, improving their times, setting personal records and taking it seriously. That’s great to see.”
ML-WR-Barnum gets back in action Tuesday when they travel to Chisago Lakes.