Shady, Eskomos take third in Class A Cross Country meetBattling a side ache and collapsing in exhaustion after her third-place run at state, Marisa Shady found the energy afterward to congratulate Blake’s Clare Flanagan with a hug. From one state champion to the next.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
NORTHFIELD, Minn. – Battling a side ache and collapsing in exhaustion after her third-place run at state, Marisa Shady found the energy afterward to congratulate Blake’s Clare Flanagan with a hug.
From one state champion to the next.
Even though the Esko junior didn’t regain her individual title, Shady was first in line to commend Flanagan for winning Saturday afternoon’s Class A girls cross country championship in Northfield, Minn.
“If there was one person I wanted to win, if not me, I wanted it to be her,” said Shady of her good friend Flanagan. “She is always at the finish line congratulating people, so I went over and gave her a great big hug.”
During their embrace, Shady said Flanagan was shocked.
“I told her I know exactly how you feel,” Shady said. “I told her to enjoy every second of her victory because she’s a great athlete and deserved to win.”
Flanagan, a sophomore at The Blake School in Minneapolis, ran the 4,000-meter course in 14 minutes, 21.7 seconds. On a sunny, almost-60-degree day, she pulled from the pack and kept her pace down the windy final stretch.
Cannon Falls’ Emi Trost followed Flanagan in second at 14:34.7, while Shady placed third at 14:45.5, ever present in Flanagan’s mind.
“She was definitely one of the people I was thinking about,” said the top-ranked Flanagan of Shady. “I knew she was the defending champ.”
Earlier in the season, Flanagan and Shady squared off at Duluth’s Swain Invitational where, again, Flanagan won and Shady placed third. Anticipating another battle Saturday, Flanagan kept her race plan simple.
“I was just thinking [to] stick with her at first and see what would happen,” said Flanagan. “[Afterward] she was so gracious and so kind, it really is a privilege to run with her.”
Far from disappointed after her run, Shady kept things in perspective.
“I’m happy with how I ran, I gave it everything I had today,” said Shady, who ran a near-identical time Saturday as last year’s run. “I wasn’t disappointed at all.”
The Esko girls team placed third with 132 points, behind champion St. Cloud Cathedral (94) and second-place Annandale (118). The finish was one of the highest in school history, behind only Esko’s runner-up finish in 1979 and state championship team in 1980.
“It’s a remarkable accomplishment for those girls,” said Esko Coach Jerry Zimny, whose team improved from fifth a year ago and got a trophy this fall. “They’ve been here enough where making it to state was just a step in the process. They came down with the idea of competing. They had a goal of getting a trophy.”
Zimny was an assistant coach for both the ’79 and ’80 squads, but said the three teams are tough to compare with the evolution of girls’ sports nowadays.
“You can’t really compare them,” he said. “Those girls were great runners, too. It’s just really fun to be a part of it all, because you just don’t get those groups very often. You can’t just take anyone out of the hallway and get those results.”
Esko junior Kallyn Knutson reached All-State status by placing 24th in 15:29.3 Saturday before recording 19 digs in Esko’s Section 7AA volleyball championship that night in Grand Rapids. Following Knutson was Kailee Kiminski (49th), Erika Shady (64th), Karli Kulas (85th), Molly Meysembourg (112th) and Kate Shelerud (150th).
“There are a lot of fast people down here,” said sophomore Erika Shady, Marisa’s younger sister. “But really, we just love being with our team.”
“Our team is like a family,” chimed in Kiminski, a freshman. “Coming down here was awesome. We’re not disappointed at all. We just ran and look where it got us. Now we just want to get better and better and
Returning their top-five scorers next fall and then some, that’s a good bet.
“Hey, we’ve still got another year,” said Marisa Shady. “Hopefully we can keep up the tradition.”
“They’re not down,” Zimny said. “They’ll enjoy this. But I’ll tell you what; it won’t be long and they’ll be hungry again. They’ll be thinking about more.”
That’s only fitting for a dynasty.