CROSS COUNTRY: Depth propels Jacks to more success on home course
BEMIDJI -- While a Lumberjack has often been first to cross the finish line this season, that’s not where the success ends for the Bemidji High School boys cross country team.
“(Our depth) is very important,” senior Ethan Maish said. “Later on, like in sections, we need everybody. Whether it’s No. 7 or No. 1, we need everybody to do well. … So it’s very important.”
BHS racked up six top-eight individual finishes at Thursday’s home meet at Greenwood Golf Course, again leaning on depth to secure its fourth first-place finish in as many meets.
“It’s just that culture of the boys wanting to be successful. And the other part of that is that they’re putting in the work to do that,” Bemidji head coach Ryan Aylesworth said. “We appreciate every one of the guys on the team, from the top varsity (runner) all the way down to the last JV. Everybody working hard and pushing helps all the way up.”
Nathan Alto had the top finish of the day with a first-place time of 16:38.3, and Nicholas Youso was third at 17:21.5. Those results surely aren’t anything new, but the depth helped finalize the victory.
Maish was fourth overall at 17:31.2, while Josef Lalli (6th, 17:50.7) and Carson Maish (7th, 18:00.7) rounded out a first-place score of 21. Visiting St. Cloud Apollo had 41 points for second, while Sauk Rapids-Rice was third with 78 points.
Brooks Matetich (8th, 18:07.1) and Bryce Kondos (11th, 18:18.5) rounded out a performance with all seven Lumberjacks finishing ahead of all but four total opponents.
“There are only three teams in the meets, which kind of helps our case a little bit,” Ethan Maish said. “But it’s nice having an undefeated season so far. Knock on wood. It’s super nice to see all that hard work pay off.”
Hoffman, girls claim 1st win
Aylesworth went up to the Bemidji girls cross country team and held up one finger. An elated “We won?!” rang out in response.
BHS topped the leaderboard for the first time this season, edging St. Cloud Apollo by one point. Mia Hoffman also notched a first, as she outmatched the field and won by a whopping 1:35.2 over second place.
“It was mostly the people cheering for me because I didn’t want to let anybody down,” Hoffman said of pushing herself. “I feel really happy because our team worked really hard.”
“She’s done a great job,” Aylesworth added. “It’s nice to see those time drops and to see her get that. You build on the confidence from previous races. It’s in the back of your mind when you go to your next meet. The more confidence you can build, the better you’re going to be heading into the postseason.”
Hoffman wasn’t the only Lumberjack to show out, though. Addison Maish was third at 22:04.1, Josey LaValley was fifth at 22:17.7, Tristan Wickum was eighth at 24:13.8 and Camille McDermott was 10th at 25:35.3.
“I’m so excited for the girls and so pumped for them,” Aylesworth said of the first-place finish. “They’ve been working hard. We have a few kids who have been battling some injuries and other things going on. To come here on the home course and get a win against some other schools in our (Central Lakes) Conference is a really nice feeling for them. I’m proud of their efforts and all the work they’re putting in.”
In perhaps a first, the meet also faced a bear delay of about 20 minutes. The sighting pushed back the meet until the bear cleared out of the area and the course was safe to run.
“It made for an interesting day,” Aylesworth laughed. “Probably one I will never forget.”
Bemidji will hope for a bear-less meet when it next takes part in a meet against St. Cloud Tech and Willmar at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29, in St. Cloud.