Saturday, November 04, 2017

A Double Double Highlighted the Team competition at the 2017 MSHSL Cross Country Championships

On a cool, overcast day on the  St. Olaf cross country course Wayzata swept the girl's and boy's Class AA titles and Perham also did the double in Class A .For Perham it was the reverse of last year's State Meet  team battles that  they lost in tight competition. This year they edged Winona Cotter by one point to take home the girl's trophy.  The win in the boy's race was by 30 points over runner-up St. James Area high school.

Wayzata was more dominant, beating Edina by 21 points in the girl's AA race.  In the boy's it was anoter dominant performance with Wayzata's  scoring 37 points to runner-up Stillwater Area's 72 and Edina's 107. Wayzata senior Khalid Hussein won the AA 5k title, pulling away from Acer Iverson of Roseville.

"I ran a 4:12 mile in track," said Hussein, which boosted his confidence in the back and forth battle with Iverson, who tried to break Hussein by charging up the hill on the "forest" segment of the course in the second half of the race.  Iverson, a junior from Roseville, said he thought he could hold onto the lead and the gap he opened with his surge, but Hussein was too strong and quick over the last half mile of the race.

In the girl's AA race, Washburn's Emily Covert used the same strategy as Iverson.  However, she was able to hold the gap she got on last year's champion Anna Fenske of Farmington. The battle between the two resulted in a new All Time record for the 5K of 17:30.1 for Covert.  That record almost fell as Tierney Wolfgram successfully utilized a different strategy to run away from the Ping sisters, Lauren, who was second and Grace, who finished third in the Class A race.

Instead of waiting to make a move in the latter half of the race, the tactics  the other champions utilized, Wolfgram ran even splits, she said, going out hard and holding that pace the last half of the race. She gave credit to the Pings, who she got to know when she was invited to participate in the Project Gold running camp two years ago in Utah, and again in last summer's Project Gold camp at St. Mary's in Winona.

Tierney Wolfgram
Photo by Gene Niemi

She and the Pings got to be good friends along with  the rest of the girls in the camp, she said.   "I'm not the most confident person," Wolfgram said of her pre-race nervousness, but she learned how to transform that anxiety into energy.  Energy enough to set a new Class A record for 5K and only 1.5 seconds away from duplicating Covert's All Time mark.

It was the fast times run by Grace Ping  that had attracted Wolfgram into the sport.  When she saw Grace Ping, then a 7th grader, out run and dominate the race to win the 2015 Griak high school Maroon race title, Wolfgram said that then :"I didn't think a 7th grader could run that fast" A 7th grader herself then, Wolfgram's attitude and expectations were transformed.  Training with and getting to know Grace and the other "campers" helped her to set her goals higher.

On Saturday Grace had a strip of green  kinesio tape on her right quads.  She didn't want to talk about the leg or the fact that she hadn't trained during the past week.  She said that she was OK, and was hoping to run in the NXN qualifying meet later this month,  Saturday's race was more for the team than herself, as  Cotter  had a shot at the team title, which they lost to Perham by a point.
Grace Ping. Photo by Gene Niemi

Lauren Ping
Photo by Gene Niemi

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