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Truedson qualifies for state cross country meet, breaks long drought for Jacks

Bemidji High School cross country runner Jenna Truedson gets a high-five from principal Brian Stefanich on Thursday afternoon as she walks the gauntlet of fellow students congratulating her for qualifying for Saturday's state meet at St. Olaf. Walking with Truedson is BHS cross country coach Ryan Aylesworth. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

It's been more than 10 years since Bemidji has had a representative in the girls state cross country meet but that streak will be broken Saturday when Jenna Truedson joins the Class AA field for the 2 p.m. race at St. Olaf.

The Lumberjacks eighth grader earned her spot by finishing fifth at last weekend's Section 8AA meet in Fergus Falls.

"I'm excited and a little nervous about going to state for the first time," Truedson said. "It would have been nice to have my sister (Kim Truedson) and Bailey Drewes race with me but that didn't happen. When the season started my goal was to get to state. And now I've done it."

Kim Truedson missed a state berth by four spots as she finished 14th at the section meet. Drewes ended in 19th place.

Jenna Truedson will be among the youngest at Saturday's competition but the eighth grader won't be intimidated by her competitors.

"My goals are to break 15 minutes, finish in the top 25 and make All-State," Truedson said. "I think they are realistic goals. I'm ready. We train a lot and I have good genetics."

Her brother Erik shared those genetics and in 2008 he earned All-State honors by finishing 21st at the state meet. Currently Erik is running for the University of Minnesota cross country team.

"I think Jenna has a shot at finishing in the top 25 and joining her brother as All-State runners," said her coach Ryan Aylesworth. "There is no pressure on her and she's going down there with the idea of running as well as she can and seeing where that takes her. And I think Jenna has the potential to do very well."

"My plan is to try and stay with the lead group," Truedson said. "When I race I try to run at the same pace throughout but each race is different so sometimes you have to change things. Saturday I hope to follow the lead pack but we'll see how things go."

No matter how Truedson fares Saturday the experience of competing at the state level will provide individual and team benefits in the future.

"We're going to bring some of the other team members so they can get a view as to what goes on at a state meet," Aylesworth said. "Jenna probably will be one of the youngest kids in the race and the experience she will bring back will be invaluable."

NOTE: Following last week's Section 8AA meet the boys coaches selected Aylesworth as Section 8AA Coach of the Year.

The Lumberjacks scored 76 points in the boys race and narrowly missed qualifying for the state meet. Moorhead won the section but Alexandria claimed the second state berth with 75 points.

"I was surprised by being named Coach of the Year but we've been making progress with the program," Aylesworth said. "There are many coaches who are much smarter and wiser than I am but this honor is pretty cool and I think it says that our program is going in the right direction. I think it says we are doing things the right way."

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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