The Runner’s RundownPrep running summaries
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Despite injury-plagued career, Koenig keeps up pace
Nick Koenig has just had bad luck.
The 14-year-old freshman from Cromwell has been running for the Cards for several years but was set back the last two years when the section meet rolled around due to illness. He was hoping this year would be different, but the Cardinals’ top runner is now sidelined with a right knee injury. He missed a number of events already, including the Swain Invitational two weeks ago, but he expects to be in running form in time for the section meet.
“It’s tough,” said Koenig, who’s been running varsity cross county for three years and started junior varsity in sixth grade. “It seems almost every year, something bad happens. It’s a little depressing, but I’m staying positive.”
Before sitting out this year, Koenig paced the Cardinals’ when the 5-foot-8, 121-pounder put up their best individual performance and placed ninth at Blueberry Hills at Deer River.
Koenig has running in his blood.
“He’s been running since he was big enough move those little legs of his,” laughed his father and cross country coach Pete Koenig, whose younger daughter is also part of the Cardinals’ squad. “It’s been a long time.”
Nick Koenig remembers starting competitive running as a second-grader and his first 5-kilometer race was when he was just 9 years old.
Koenig runs cross country in the fall and track and field in the spring and plays basketball in the winter. He said he works hard in the summer as well.
“I’ve put in 200 miles the past two summers,” said Nick. “It’s fun. Yes, it hurts, but it’s all worthwhile. You can always get better and improve your time.”
Koenig has raced in 5K events ever since he could remember. In recent years, he’s competed well in Grand Rapids, Moose Lake and at Carlton Daze. At Floodwood’s annual Catfish Days, he’s won his age division four years straight, while at the first-ever Kettle River race, he beat his dad to be crowned champion.
“He won’t race me anymore,” said a chuckling Nick.
Koenig’s father explained that his son jogs, stretches and ices his knee daily at practice in hopes of returning at full-strength.
Koenig was expected to compete Wednesday at the Polar League Conference Meet in Grand Marais when this edition of the Pine Journal went to press. He’ll also run at Proctor next week, as well as sections. He’s excited to get back on the trails.
“I’m pumped to get back out there,” Nick said.
Having placed in the 80s in the section race, the Koenigs are hoping Nick can advance to the state meet down the road.
“We’re still knocking at the door,” laughed Pete, while remaining confident and optimistic.
Moonen leads Rebels, enjoys stunning senior campaign
If you asked Kathryn Moonen when she was a child if she wanted to go for a run, she would’ve given you real quick answer.
“No way!” she laughed hysterically. “I’m not going running!”
Yet, something changed in the Sturgeon Lake native’s mind. As a freshman, her older sister asked her to join cross country instead of volleyball. Moonen tried it, liked it, and she was hooked.
“I just started liking it,” recalled Moonen, who now runs year-round to stay competitive in both cross country and track and field.
Now a 17-year-old senior at Moose Lake High School, Moonen’s fall season has been her best yet.
She has single-handedly paced the Moose Lake-Willow River-Barnum girls, finishing in third place individually three times already at Chisago Lakes, Mora and North Branch.
“This is the first time I’ve actually run decent,” said Moonen, explaining her previous 18-minute, 4-kilometer race average has been dropped to roughly 16 minutes this season. “I wanted to be the top runner this year, so I said, ‘Let’s go!’”
That dedication began this past summer.
Moonen said that after her junior season last fall, she really started to take her running seriously. She was in the weight room increasing her strength and on the treadmill throughout the winter. In the summer, she ran roughly 8-11 miles a day and when she didn’t run, she rollerbladed about 16 miles per day.
“I told myself that I was going to do this,” she said, “and I just did.”
ML-WR-Barnum coach Terry Ohman hasn’t sent a runner to state in her 15 years coaching the Rebels, but the way Moonen is posting times this season, that drought could be snapped in her 16th year at the helm.
We can only wait until later this month when the section meet takes place in Cloquet.
ML-WR-Barnum sports a boys team, but the girls don’t have enough to compete as a team. Moonen is the only senior of a young bunch for the Rebels.
“It’s hard,” said Moonen about the tiny squad, “but it’s great too. We all hang out and it’s kind of an oddball group. We have spaghetti dinners before meets and play spoons. It’s fun. We really have evolved as a team.”
Moonen competed Wednesday at the Polar League Conference Meet in Grand Marais when this edition of the Pine Journal went to press. She hopes after sections, state will be her next step.
“I’m training hard for it,” said an optimistic Moonen about making it state for the first time. “It would be awesome to see. It really would be.”