State-ranked Esko looks to defend Section 7A titlesBoth the Esko boys and girls cross country teams should be sure picks to win the section meet like last year. They’re both ranked in the state polls, both are Polar League champs and both have depth you can’t imagine. But Jerry Zimny speaks like a true coach.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Both the Esko boys and girls cross country teams should be sure picks to win the section meet like last year. They’re both ranked in the state polls, both are Polar League champs and both have depth you can’t imagine. But Jerry Zimny speaks like a true coach.
“There are no guarantees,” said the longtime Esko coach. “Certainly, it’s fun being in the hunt, but we know there’s competition out there.”
Perhaps the Eskomos’ biggest competitors at Thursday’s Section 7A Meet at the Cloquet Country Club will be Crosby-Ironton, a team Esko watched run at Proctor, but also a squad they’re unfamiliar with.
“They run well,” said Zimny of the Rangers after last week’s final tune-up race in Proctor. “Everyone always has some runners.”
But Esko has the secret ingredient for success – depth.
Guided by junior Jackson Lindquist on the boys side and sophomore Marisa Shady for the girls – both state-ranked individually – the Eskomos also have talent down their gaudy lines.
Seniors Adam Eskuri, Mac Ryks and sophomore Joey Johnson are a trio of role runners for the guys, while senior Rachel Mills, junior Kate Shelerud, sophomore Kallyn Knutson, freshman Erika Shady and eighth-grade sensation Kailee Kiminski can all place high – if not win – races for the ladies.
“They always come in thinking they have a shot,” Zimny said, “and that’s a credit to them. They’ve put in the time.”
Esko has rarely been tested this fall, and they’ll look to defend their boys and girls section crowns Thursday with the boys starting at noon and the girls following at 12:45 p.m.
They’ll again shoot to send a smorgasbord of athletes to state – like usual.
“They’re gearing up for it,” said Zimny about sections. “It’s what they look forward to all year. All of our weekly meets during the season get us ready for sections. And the main goal is to go down to state. They want to get there.”
But like their successors, the runners are remaining honest with themselves.
“We have to run our best, because you just never know,” said Marisa Shady, who – like Lindquist – has never missed qualifying for the state meet in her career. “I’ve been running with the boys lately and am looking for that section championship. I’m feeling strong and am excited.”
A number of local schools will participate in the Section 7A Meet Thursday at the CCC. Carlton junior Lindsey Dahl-Holm should be the most competitive in the girls division, along with Moose Lake-Willow River senior Kathryn Moonen. For the boys, Carlton senior Kodie Peterson and Cromwell-Wright-Floodwood freshman Nick Koenig could also pose threats. Expect an exciting event, regardless of the weather.