Shady, Eskomos defend section crownsThe fourth-ranked Eskomos went 1-2-3, and placed four runners in the top-eight en route to a mere 25 points on the cloudy, 39-degree day, tallying the lowest Section 7A team score in recent memory.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
CLOQUET – In less than a day’s time, Marisa Shady played in a state quarterfinal soccer game, defended her section cross country title and traveled about 275 miles on eight hours of sleep.
That’s an easy day for the 17-year-old.
“Actually that’s more sleep than I usually get,” chuckled Shady after defending her Section 7A girls cross country crown last Thursday at the Cloquet Country Club. “I slept in the car and we had a half-day of school yesterday so I took a nap.”
The Esko junior isn’t the only athlete living an on-the-go lifestyle, however. While Marisa played forward in last week’s state quarterfinal soccer game in St. Cloud, her younger sister, Erika, was playing defense. Fellow dual-sport teammate Kailee Kiminski was also along for the state trip that night, while Kallyn Knutson was playing an opening round section volleyball match in Esko against Hinckley-Finlayson that evening.
“There are times where you don’t want to go hard,” said Marisa Shady, last year’s Class A individual state champion, “but you just have to keep that mental focus, go hard and push through that wall.”
No wall was present on the course last week, as the fourth-ranked Eskomos went 1-2-3, and placed four runners in the top-eight en route to a mere 25 points on the cloudy, 39-degree day, tallying the lowest Section 7A team score in recent memory.
Marisa Shady’s 4,000-meter time of 14 minutes, 43.3 seconds wasn’t a personal best, but to put it in perspective, it was more than two seconds quicker than her title time last November. She even made longtime course bicyclist Charlie Farrow kick it into fifth-gear down the final fairway stretch.
“I was working on that,” said Shady about chasing Farrow. “I talked to him before and told him he’d have to go hard if he wanted to stay in front of me.”
Farrow isn’t the only one who has to shift into a higher gear around Shady.
“We all try keeping up with her at practice, but she’s always ahead of us,” said Kiminski, a freshman. “But then when we have meets, she’s gone.”
Although Shady is the centerpiece to an Esko team off to its best stretch of success in 30 years, both Kiminski and Knutson pushed each other and posted personal records last week too, racing side-by-side during most of Friday’s race before Kiminski clocked in at 15:10.8 in second place and Knutson at 15:16.7 in third. Erika Shady also placed eighth and Karli Kulas came in 11th to round out the scoring.
“We’ve got talent on this team and we have a lot of confidence,” said Kiminski, who despite twisting her ankle at soccer and during last week’s final stretch, still set a career-best time. “We all work and push each other at practice all the time.”
“We run about five miles every morning before school,” added Knutson, a junior, who also played in a section volleyball semifinal match Wednesday as this edition of the Pine Journal went to press. “We’re all in it for the team.”
Coach Jerry Zimny gives all the credit to his runners.
“There is very little in distance running that a coach does,” Zimny said. “It’s all up to the kids. How hard they go is all internal. That all comes from them.”
Now off to state again, the Eskomos are shooting for their ultimate goal.
“We would like to get a state [team] title this year,” said Kiminski, noting that the challenge would be difficult. “But I actually think it’s possible. Because when we put our mind to something, and we’re all confident, we can do pretty much anything, I believe. I’m really excited for state, our whole team is.”
The state meet is set for Saturday in Northfield, Minn., on the campus of St. Olaf College. Class AA will start with the girls race at 10 a.m. and the boys at 11 a.m., and Class A follows in the afternoon, with the girls race set for 1 p.m. and boys to follow at 2 p.m.
“They’ve done this long enough and have been successful long enough to know that just getting there isn’t a big deal, but their goal is to do something as a team,” Zimny said of his longtime Polar League and section champions. “All of the individual stuff is nice, but all it does is get their team to where they want to get.
“They want to do as well as they can do, and if somebody is better, then you say congratulations, but I have no doubt that they will run well.”
With Marisa Shady, that’s a safe bet – especially when her own championship isn’t the first thing on her mind. A team one would be even better.
“It’s not [about me], it’s all about the team,” Shady said about defending her title. “There are a lot of good runners and people have improved. I’m just going to go down there and run hard. There are no guarantees here.
“If I repeat, that would be so awesome,” said Shady, the only cross country champion in school history and well aware of the target on her back, “but if I don’t, it’s not going to be the end of the world.”