Cloquet junior Aiden Ripp continued an amazing week of running last Thursday when he took top honors in the Lake Superior Conference cross-country meet at Far Par Golf Course in Duluth.
Ripp, who won the prestigious Swain Cross Country Invitational the week before, parlayed a wild sprint to the finish Thursday to beat Ashland twins Walker and Maury Miller.
His victory helped the Cloquet boys take the team points title, while the Cloquet girls did the same in their meet Thursday.
"Aiden ran a smart race by running his own race," coach Mike Bushey said. "He kept the Miller brothers within striking distance before making his move. Aiden had the benefit of learning from some older kids for a couple of years, and this year, he's able to use that to become a good and strategic racer."
Not only was Ripp impressive for the Lumberjacks, but Cloquet placed all five of its point scorers in the top nine. Blaine Bong and Jordan Allen placed fourth and fifth, respectively, followed by Blake Desmond in eighth place and Brady Hall, who finished ninth.
"Our boys team has continued to improve as the less-experienced athletes are learning to manage their efforts during a race," Bushey said. "As a result, our depth in the conference has been a key to their success."
Cloquet won the boys event with a low score of 27 points. Finishing second was Ashland with 84 points. Hermantown placed third; Superior was fourth; Proctor, fifth; and Duluth Marshall and Duluth Denfeld followed.
The Cloquet girls also showed a lot of depth with a third-place finish by Lauren Cawcutt to lead the team to its win. Cloquet scored a team-low 34 points. Proctor was second with 53 points; Ashland took third; Duluth Marshall was fourth; Superior took fifth; and Hermantown was sixth.
"Lauren has done a great job learning how to race without the benefit of following an older, more experienced athlete," Bushey said. "She's had some ups and downs, but she is determined to keep improving."
Following Cawcutt for Cloquet were Kelly Lorenz in fifth, Audrey Phillips in sixth and Presley Niemi in seventh. Franny Slater capped off the scoring with a 13th-place finish.
"We had four girls make First Team All Conference, but they certainly weren't in that situation during the first mile," Bushey said. "They ran a smart and patient race and didn't get caught up going too hard too early. Our veteran runners helped out our rookie kids and guided them through the race."
Both Cloquet teams hope to use the strong conference race as a warmup for the Section 7AA meet Oct. 26 at the Cloquet Country Club.
SECTIONS: IF YOU GO
Both the Section 7A and 7AA girls and boys cross country races will be held at the Cloquet Country Club Thursday, Oct. 26, and all Carlton County schools should be represented. The Section 7A girls race start at 11 a.m., with the Section 7A boys race at 11:45 a.m. The 7AA section girls race will start at 3 p.m. and the 7AA boys race is scheduled to begin at 3:45 p.m. Races are open to the public.