County cross country teams start new seasonKailee Kiminski didn’t surprise anyone last Thursday when the junior speedster won the 3,500-meter girls exhibition to begin the season. Erika Shady, a senior, was also among the top finishers, as the pair now prepares to pace Esko following last year’s Class A state championship title.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Arriving at last week’s annual Chub Lake Invitational with teammate and close friend Erika Shady, Kailee Kiminski looked out the window and smiled. As the school bus arrived at the annual “scrimmage” for area cross country teams, the seasoned speedster saw former — now retired — Esko cross country coaches Jerry Zimny and Tim Lindquist waiting.
“They just breathe running — it’s in their nature,” said Kiminski. “Erika and I saw them as soon as we pulled up. I didn’t expect that at all. It caught me by surprise.”
Kiminski didn’t surprise anyone last Thursday when the junior speedster won the 3,500-meter girls exhibition to begin the season. Shady, a senior, was also among the top finishers, as the pair now prepares to pace Esko following last year’s Class A state championship title.
With both Zimny and Lindquist retired, and former individual state champion Marisa Shady, Kallyn Knutson and Molly Meysembourg all graduated, the Eskomos look to begin a new era with their champion mentality.
Jerimy Hallsten, 38, has taken over for Zimny, while well-known Esko runner Brent Smith serves as his assistant. As the two tinker with young athletic lineups, Hallsten said both Kiminski and Shady are the linchpins.
“Winning a state championship gives you leadership, but those two are just naturals,” said Hallsten, a 1993 Esko graduate who has run competitively for the last several years. “The younger kids really look up to them.”
Kiminski and Shady, who each play midfield on the girls soccer team as well, run the back roads of Esko each morning to balance their busy schedules. The pair of 17-year-olds combines for eight state meet appearances; Kiminski took 15th and Shady 84th last November.
The state meet could potentially be littered with county girls this year. Cloquet’s Anja Maijala, Moose Lake-Willow River-Barnum’s Nicole Tekippe and Carlton’s Erika Fox are all threats — and finished toward the top at Chub Lake — while South Ridge veteran Gracelynn Otis seeks a state repeat.
Kiminski is optimistic about the season.
“I’ve learned a lot from Marisa, Kallyn and all of those older girls,” said Kiminski, a fourth-season varsity runner, “but now Erika and I have to be the leaders.”
“It’s definitely different and sad not to have some of those same people, but we still have the same mindset,” added Erika Shady, Marisa’s younger sister and a varsity runner for six years. “Our goal is to get to State and do the best that we can, no matter whom we have and whom we have lost. We just have to finish what they started.”
Marvel makes the most of summer
Much like a friendly warm-up, organizer Mike Bushey doesn’t record results at the annual Chub Lake Invitational, but rather focuses on participation and getting all involved.
Including the ageless Jerry Zimny and Tim Lindquist.
Bushey explained Wednesday morning that the pair of retired Esko cross country coaches ran the well-constructed course around the ball fields, nearby lake and final finish line in tribute of a race they helped create.
“It was great to see them — this is their lifestyle and it’s hard to retire from something like that,” said Bushey, entering his 15th season coaching at Cloquet. “They’ve been part of running for a long time.”
The top time of the day belonged to Cloquet’s Dylan Marvel, as the senior blazed through the shorter-than-regulation 4,800-meter course in under 17 minutes.
That’s nothing new for Marvel, a fourth-year varsity runner who placed 37th at the Class AA state meet last year and hopes to return with his team this fall.
“We have high hopes,” said Marvel, who joins fellow senior Jace Anderson and freshman Isaac Boedigheimer as notable returnees. “We want to get our team to State.”
The 5-foot-7, 123-pound Marvel said Wednesday he has run nearly 300 miles this past summer in preparation for this fall season. He noted he recently completed the Ragnar Relay Series, a 203-mile relay from Winona, Minn., to Minneapolis. The 17-year-old said his leg was 25½ miles.
“Running is something I’m good at, enjoy and have a lot of fun doing,” Marvel said. “I’ve done a lot of it.”
“He’s always at the front, smiling and working hard,” said Bushey of Marvel. “And the kids like that of him.”
One of those younger runners, Boedigheimer, agreed.
“This is Dylan and Jace’s final year, so we’re trying to make it as fun and memorable as possible,” said Boedigheimer, who also ran the Ragnar along with several other Cloquet and Esko cross country runners, including Kiminski and Shady. “We have a lot of fast kids. Hopefully we can use it to our advantage.”
Esko’s Matt Rengo and Cromwell-Wright-Floodwood’s Nick Koenig, both seniors, are also county picks to return to State, among others.