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CROSS COUNTRY: Bemidji ready for section challenges

Bemidji will have the home course advantage today at Section 8-2A cross country girls and boys meets held at Greenwood Golf Course. Bemidji’s girls roster will include Emma Brokl (left) and Dani Gronhovd. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI – It has been 11 years since the Lumberjacks have hosted the section cross country meet, but today Bemidji will have the home course advantage when it welcomes its section peers to Greenwood Golf Course.

The boys meet begins at 3:30 p.m. while the girls will hit the course at 4:15 p.m.

“Hopefully there won’t be any rain or snow,” said Bemidji coach Ryan Aylesworth. “But if there is, everybody will have to deal with the same conditions.”

Unlike most sports where the journey to a section title includes quarterfinal and semifinal opportunities, cross country is a win-now-or-go-home activity.

“In cross country there is no halftime, no time outs, no preliminary games,” Aylesworth said. “The section meet happens right now and you better be ready.”

The coach believes that his athletes are ready. And he expects to see quality performances from his crew.

“It should be a great meet,” Aylesworth said. “There are many good teams in the boys and the girls fields and I’m excited to see what happens.

“We have put in our work all season and if we perform to our expectations good things should happen.”

Among those good things is a shot at placing in the top two in the boys team race and qualifying for the state meet.

“We’re in the hunt,” Aylesworth said, adding that Moorhead, Willmar, Monticello and Sartell are among the teams that could also battle for team honors.

“The top two teams and the top eight individuals not on those teams make it to state and we have a shot at being one of those top two teams,” the coach said.

The girls squad probably will need personal bests by each runner to crack the top two. Aylesworth believes that a position in the top five would be more realistic.

“Monticello is the defending state champion and is strong again,” he said. “And Willmar, Moorhead, Alexandria and Sartell all are very good as well.

“The girls field is very deep and it will be tough for us to crack state as a team. But a realistic goal is to qualify some individuals for state.”

Among those individuals is Jenna Truedson. The sophomore has been among the leaders in all of her races this fall and should challenge for a state berth today.

Joining Truedson in today’s field will be teammates Megan Serratore, Dani Gronhovd, Emma Brokl, Morgan Sagedahl, Atomic Thorson and Nicole Erdmann.

Amber Smith and Leanne Oakes will be the alternates.

Bemidji’s boys roster will include Sam Carlson, Elias Hendrickson, Kyle Sagedahl, Adam Lewis, Seth Neubeck, Billy Freyholtz and Caleb Appleton.

The alternates will be Cody Freyholtz and Noah Holter.

“We’re happy to be home for a change and we would love to have a large group of Bemidji fans leading us,” Aylesworth said. “We haven’t hosted this meet since 2001 and it would great to see some Lumberjacks fans spurring us on.”

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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