Bemidji's Truedson, Carlson set for state cross country meet
Sam Carlson and Jenna Truedson both accomplished their initial goals last week when they qualified for the state Class AA cross country meet.
On Saturday at St. Olaf the two Bemidji High School athletes will try to achieve their next objectives: finishing in the top 25 and earning All State honors.
Carlson, who placed fifth at the Section 8AA meet, will be making his first appearance at the state competition. The sophomore is excited to test himself against the best runners in the state and to see exactly where he stands.
"I'm shooting for the top 30 but my big goal is to get in the top 25," Carlson said. "I think to do that I'll have to run 16:15 and that would be a drop of six seconds from my personal best.
"But dropping six seconds is definitely possible," he said.
"If Sam runs his best race of the year he could finish in the top 25," said BHS coach Ryan Aylesworth. "This will be his first time at state and it is not easy for a first-timer to place in the top 50 much less the top 25. There will be 140 very good runners in the race but Sam always runs with confidence and he will again on Saturday."
Carlson plans on pacing himself so he can be at his best down the stretch.
"If you overdo it early you won't have anything left for the end," Carlson said. "I'll probably stay back early and make my move in the last third of the race."
Carlson is the first Lumberjack boys cross country runner to make state since Eric Truedson accomplished the feat in 2008. And Aylesworth isn't surprised that the sophomore snapped that streak.
"Sam worked hard in the offseason and continued that determined work this fall," Aylesworth said. "Making state is a nice reward."
Truedson qualified for the state cross country meet last fall and also competed at the state track and field meet during the spring. Those experiences should benefit her Saturday.
"Jenna has been here. She knows how the meet is run and how the course is laid out," Aylesworth said. "I think Jenna has a very realistic shot at making the top 10 and I think she has a good chance of finishing in the top five."
Last fall Truedson finished 17th and earned All State honors but she has her eyes on a higher finish Saturday.
"Placing in the top five is a big jump from last year but I think I can do it," the freshman said. "Last year I learned that you want to go out and stay with the lead group. You don't want to get stuck in a pack that is behind the leaders."
The lead group on Saturday is expected to include Maria Hauger of Shakopee who is the defending champion and who hasn't been beaten this year. Not far behind her will probably be Jamie Piepenburg of Alexandria who is second in the state individual rankings.
"It will be tough to beat those girls but there will be a second mix of girls and Jenna should be in that group," Aylelsworth said.
Truedson and the other Class AA girls will begin their race at 10 a.m. while the Class AA boys will start at 11 a.m.
At 1 p.m. the Class A girls will race and an hour later the Class AA boys will start.
The Class A field will feature two Bagley-Fosston runners. Marissa Carlson qualified for the girls race by finishing eighth in the Section 8A meet and Wesley Davies will represent the Flyers in the boys race.
Davies finished sixth in the Section 8A competition.