Younger ’Jacks run to Swain titlesSaturday morning, the Swain belonged to Cloquet eighth-graders Isaac Boedigheimer and Anja Maijala, as each won the 62nd Swain Invitational middle school races, carrying the Cloquet Middle School Lumberjacks to both boys and girls titles at Enger Park Golf Course in Duluth.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Saturday morning, the Swain belonged to Cloquet eighth-graders Isaac Boedigheimer and Anja Maijala, as each won the 62nd Swain Invitational middle school races, carrying the Cloquet Middle School Lumberjacks to both boys and girls titles at Enger Park Golf Course in Duluth.
Boedigheimer, a 5-foot-2, 102-pound speedster, didn’t need to run much last weekend, as he darted to an early lead and never looked back en route to winning the race of 185 runners in 10 minutes, 1.9 seconds.
“Coming down the final stretch it was quite the moment,” he said. “As the race went on, I didn’t see anyone around me. Honestly, I thought it was going to be more competitive, but it was just a breeze.”
Maybe that’s because of his passion for the sport. A member of last season’s junior varsity, the 14-year-old Boedigheimer is in his first full season on the varsity. Running with more experienced runners during practice and at occasional meets, the middle school superstar said running is atop his list.
“I love running, it’s my life,” he said. “I don’t know what I would do without it. We used to always play tag and the last one to touch the wall was it. I didn’t want to be it. And it’s just been growing ever since.”
Running has grown in Maijala’s family, too. The 13-year-old’s father, Arne, was a five-time state cross country star for the former Cloquet-Esko program. Nowadays, his daughter is looking to mirror his success.
“I think I inherited some of his speed,” Anja said. “He went to state in eighth grade and it’s my goal to do the same thing and be like he was.”
Although state is a few weeks away, Maijala looked in top form last weekend, taking the race advantage early. Maijala’s time of 11:28.6 topped a field of 109 racers, as she and Boedigheimer won by more than 30 seconds each.
“I took the lead on the hill and stayed ahead the whole way,” Maijala recalled. “I knew I could win it and wanted to start things off hard.”
Cloquet Coach Mike Bushey said both Maijala and Boedigheimer work hard, practicing with older runners and achieving success regularly. Bushey said Cloquet’s team titles were the first of any kind at Swain.
“For a year now, they have both wanted to win Swain,” Bushey said, noting he wanted his runners to face their peers. “They’re a pair of talented kids that aren’t afraid to work, but the best thing about them is they want our teams to be as successful. Both get as excited for their teammates as they do themselves.”
Longtime Esko Coach Jerry Zimny even sighted the pair of runners.
“We noticed that right away,” Zimny said of their middle school titles. “[Cloquet] has some good, young kids coming along. Maybe it’s going in cycles, but they were looking good this time of year.”
Zimny’s top state-ranked high school girls team won Class A at Swain, while his sixth state-rated boys high school team placed third. Senior Marisa Shady took second at 15:17.6, well-behind defending state and Swain champion, top-ranked Clare Flanagan of Blake.
“Even though I took second, I wasn’t disappointed at all,” Shady said. “Taking the team title was the icing on the cake. We were all really happy.”
Esko’s Kailee Kiminski finished 10th for the Class A girls, while Cloquet’s Dylan Marvel was sixth in Class AA boys. Proctor’s top-ranked Matt Welch remained unbeaten this season, winning the Class A boys title on a windy, cold, 40-degree day. Overall, 76 schools and 2,400 runners competed in 12 races in an event which originated in 1951 in memory of John Swain, a former Duluth Central teacher, coach and athletic director, who started cross country in Duluth in 1928.