John's Journal
Today’s The Day: Cross-Country State Championships11/5/2016
NORTHFIELD -- The weather forecast is excellent for today’s MSHSL cross-country state championships at St. Olaf College. The annual event brings together the state’s finest distance runners as team and individual champions are crowned in Class 1A and 2A, girls and boys.

The temperature is expected to reach into the upper 60s under sunny skies. It sounds like we have a glorious day ahead.

All of today’s races will be 5,000 meters. Separate awards ceremonies will be held for each class. And if you’re on the bubble about attending in person, you should know that admission is free.

I’ll be posting immediate updates on Twitter (@MSHSLjohn if you care to follow along) after each of the four races, followed by stories about the races here on John’s Journal.

Here is today’s race schedule…

10 a.m./ Class 1A boys
11 a.m./ Class 1A girls
1 p.m./ Class 2A boys
2 p.m./ Class 2A girls

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 234
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 4,638
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Wild Finish In 1A Boys Cross-Country11/5/2016
NORTHFIELD -- In an all-out, guns blazing, there’s-no-tomorrow sprint to the finish line – with bodies tumbling to the ground afterwards – three of the state’s top male cross-country runners made it anybody’s race until the absolute very end Saturday at St. Olaf College.

Junior Declan Dahlberg of Mounds Park Academy stretched across the line in a time of 15 minutes, 56.9 seconds, followed by junior Matt Steiger of La Crescent in 15:57.1 and senior Carl Kozlowski of Lake City in 15.57.3.

That’s a mighty tiny difference – quicker than the blink of an eye – between the top three runners in one of the tightest finishes in state meet history.

Dahlberg, who finished 19th last year, came out on top after a pack of seven runners rolled into the final 200 meters. Dahlberg, Steiger (17th a year ago) and Kozlowski (third in 2015) broke free from that pack before reaching the final stretch.

Dahlberg was ranked No. 1 in the statewide coaches poll, but he didn’t lean on that Saturday.

“You can’t expect to go in and be No. 1 just because your name’s on top,” he said. “It’s good to see the work has paid off. The (ranking) doesn’t mean much. This means everything.”

In the team race, Mora won its third straight championship. The Mustangs had a team total of 93 points, followed by Perham at 99 and La Crescent at 12.

Mora’s Michael Schwinghamer finishes seventh, Alec Sanbeck was 12th and John Schwinghammer was 15th. Perham was led by Jacob Dickerson in 19th, Hunter Kjelshus in 21st and Clayton Anderson in 30th. For La Crescent, Steiger was followed by Zack Emery in fourth and Andrew Lechnir in 64th.
Eighth-Graders Finish 1-2 In 1A Girls Cross-Country11/5/2016
NORTHFIELD -- Youth was served Saturday at the Class 1A girls cross-country championship, with eighth-graders finishing first and second. Tierney Wolfgram of Math & Science Academy in Woodbury won the state title with a time of 18 minutes, 23.6 seconds and Martin County West’s Marissa Whitehead was second in 19:08.6.

Whitehead made a strong push in the final strides to finish ahead of Perham senior Brynnan Covington, who was third in 19:08.8.

A year ago, Winona Cotter seventh-grader Grace Ping was the 1A champ, but she and her family moved to Utah over the summer. Wolfgram (pictured) placed 10th in 2015, Whitehead was 20th and Covington was 13th.

“She’s like a big role model to me,” Wolfgram said of Ping. “She showed me that a seventh-grader could get (age-group) world records and run that fast.”

Wolfgram was ranked No. 1 among 1A girls during the season and was not challenged in most of her races. As things turned out, the state championship race was much the same.

“I knew from the first mile that I’d win,” she said.

She is the first state champion in any sport from Math & Science Academy, which was founded in 1999. Because of her No 1 ranking and pile of first-place awards throughout the season, lots of people had told her she would win Saturday’s race.

“It’s pretty nerve-wracking,” she said. “Coming into this race, I’ve never been more nervous. Because everyone I know was like, ‘Oh, you’re going to win.’ But what if I don’t?”

Fairmont captured the 1A team title with 84 points, followed by Perham at 86 and Annandale at 127. Fairmont’s top runners were Sarah Krumholz in 25th, Jenna Pavich in 27th and Iliana Ramon in 30th.

For Perham, Brynnan Covington was followed by Caitlin Covington in 24th and Hailey Wegscheid in 29th. Annandale’s top finishers were Emma Fashant in 28th, Jessica Scheer in 42nd and Emily Kasper in 53rd.

No Looking Back For 2A Boys State Champ11/5/2016
NORTHFIELD – As Patrick Roos sprinted toward the finish line Saturday in the final race of his MSHSL cross-country career, an excited fan of the Edina senior screamed from the gallery.

“Go Patrick! Come on Patrick! That’s my son!”

With his mother exhorting him on, Roos outkicked junior Khalid Hussein of Wayzata and senior Innocent Murwanashyaka of St. Paul Como Park to win the Class 2A boys cross-country state title.

Roos took nothing for granted, not knowing if the other runners were 30 yards back or right on his heels.

“On the stretch home I didn’t look back,” he said. “I just went straight for it. Honestly, I didn’t think I could win it until I crossed the finish line. I thought Khalid was right behind me, and he’s beaten me a couple times this year. So I just hauled as fast as I could, no looking back.”

Roos’s time was 15 minutes, 36.4 seconds, well ahead of Hussein’s 15:41.8. Murwanashyaka’s time was 15:47.8.

Roose finished fifth at state a year ago and was ranked fourth among boys 2A runners in the final coaches poll of this season. He consciously did not begin the race at a breakneck pace, choosing to stick with a plan he has grown accustomed to.

“The difference today was I was going to go at my own pace, a comfortable pace, and not go with the top guys,” he said. “I knew if I went with them I’d probably fall back a little bit. And I like going out slowly and then progressing. That’s just kind of how I race.

“But you always want to change it. You think, ‘If I catch up to them now or later…’ and your mind is all over the place when you’re racing. That’s why I try not to think about it.”

Wayzata was the team champion with 38 points, followed by Edina at 91 and Maple Grove at 128. Wayzata’s top finishers after Hussein were Liban Jama in 11th and Grant Price in 19th.

After Roos, Edina was led by Zachary Miller in 23rd and Max Manley in 38th.
It’s A Farmington Sweep In 2A Girls Cross-Country11/5/2016
NORTHFIELD -- Two young runners from Farmington High School have been making cross-country waves all season, usually finishing first and second each time they compete.

The duo continued that theme through Saturday’s 2A state championship race at St. Olaf College, with eighth-grader Anna Fenske winning the state title and sophomore teammate Lauren Peterson placing second. Third was Chanhassen senior Anastasia Korzenowski.

Fenske was ranked No. 1 in the final coaches poll of the season, with Peterson 11th and Korzenowski second. As they have done all season, the Farmington duo dominated from the get-go.

“At first I thought a lot of other girls were going to go out a little bit harder,” Fenske said. “So Lauren and I were just going to stay with those girls and work our way up. But that didn’t really happen and we just ran our own race.”

Fenske’s time was 17 minutes, 41.5 seconds on an afternoon with bright sunshine and temperatures touching 70 degrees. Peterson finished in 18:17.1 and Korzenowski’s time was 18:26.5.

“I just said in my head, ‘state title, state title, I want to win that state title,’ ” Fenske said. “And I’m super happy.”

Peterson said she and Anna worked hard together all season, providing motivation and inspiration to each other.

“It was just encouraging each other in practice.,” she said. “When one of us is getting tired or is falling off the pace, we have each other to kind of work together.”

Edina repeated as the team champion with a score of 45, followed by Willmar at 58 and Minnetonka at 105. Edina’s top runners were Amanda Mosborg in sixth, Emily Kompelien in ninth and Morgan Richter in 10th. Richter was last year’s Class 1A runner-up at Breck. Willmar’s top three were Jessa Hanson in seventh, Kayla Rudie in 12th and Sophie Schmidts in 14th. For Minnetonka, Sophie Whicher was fifth, Elizabeth Halbmaie 22nd and Kylie Melz 35th.