Shady takes first again in 7A section, Esko girls dominateMarisa Shady again carried the Eskomos at last Thursday’s Section 7A cross country meet, where the 5-foot-6 superstar won her third straight individual title and led Esko to their fourth consecutive championship at the Cloquet Country Club, on a course that was soggy from an early morning rain that changed to wind and snow for the section meet.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
CLOQUET – To control her exercise-induced asthma, Marisa Shady always carries an inhaler in her right hand when she runs. Much like the Esko senior does each race with her cross country team.
Shady again carried the Eskomos at last Thursday’s Section 7A cross country meet, where the 5-foot-6 superstar won her third straight individual title and led Esko to their fourth consecutive championship at the Cloquet Country Club, on a course that was soggy from an early morning rain that changed to wind and snow for the section meet.
“Living in northern Minnesota, we know anything can happen,” Shady said of the weather, which hovered around freezing point all morning. “That day wasn’t so much about the times, but about who wanted to persevere and push through. I talked with my team before. And we knew we had to push.”
Shady pushed through the soaked course with a 4,000-meter time of 15 minutes, 30.2 seconds, followed closely by sophomore teammate Kailee Kiminski at 15:42.7. Kallyn Knutson, Erika Shady and Karli Kulas also placed in the top 20, easing No. 1-ranked Esko to the title with just 45 points. International Falls finished runner up at 103.
Esko advances to Saturday’s Class A state championships at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. For some senior racers, like Shady, it will be her sixth straight trip to State since starting her running career.
“For a lot of teams, getting to State is enough, but not with this bunch,” said longtime Esko Coach Jerry Zimny. “It’s a group that has been there for so long. Getting to State is a step toward their goal.”
“We want to win the state title, as a team,” Kiminski said, noting it would be special to capture the school’s second-ever state crown in Zimny’s final season coaching. “He’s an awesome coach; he keeps us confident. We have to run our best times, but I think we can do it. We’ve been down there. We know the course. We know what to do.”
Shady, the 2010 Class A individual state champion and sparkplug for the top-rated Eskomos, is keeping all of the hype in perspective.
“Rankings mean nothing; people run the races of their lives down there,” Shady said. “We’re not taking anything for granted. We’ve been going after this [championship] for the last few years, but we just have to go down there, do our thing and hopefully end with the state title.”
Zimny, who was a part of Esko’s 1979 runner-up and 1980 state championship teams, said he’ll be happy with the team regardless of finish.
“They always give whatever they have that day for every meet,” he said. “That’s all you can ask for as a coach. They’ve done that forever.”
Zimny’s boys also advanced to state, finishing second last week when edged by Proctor by two points in the Rails’ first section title since 1983. Proctor senior Matt Welch – unbeaten this year and top-ranked in Class A – cruised through the 5,000-meter race in 16:19.0 for the win.
Esko freshman Ben Mattinen placed fifth in 17:30.2 followed by teammates Joey Johnson, Ben Hanson and Matt Rengo.
Cromwell-Wright junior Nick Koenig finished two seconds ahead of Rengo en route to State, while Moose Lake-Willow River freshman Nicole Tekippe placed ninth overall in becoming a girls state qualifier.
South Ridge freshman Gracelynn Otis also took fifth running her way to her third state meet, while Cloquet junior Dylan Marvel placed 10th in Section 7AA at Princeton, Minn. for his first-ever state qualification.
“It’s my first state meet,” Marvel added. “I’m going in fresh!”
“I thought I ran the best I could,” said Otis, who has battled left hip, quadriceps and hamstring injuries all fall. “When I was younger, I always wanted to get to State. I’m going back and just going to run my race.”