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TRACK AND FIELD: Run on the beach paves Isaak McDonald’s path to UMD

Those treks made an impression on McDonald, and now, he’s signed his National Letter of Intent to continue running – but this time, it’ll be on the track at Minnesota Duluth.

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Bemidji High School senior Isaak McDonald signs his National Letter of Intent to run track at Minnesota Duluth on Wednesday, March 9, 2022, at Bemidji High School.
Christian Babcock / Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI – When most people go for a run on the beach, they intend to find a calming way to get some exercise. But Bemidji High School senior Issak McDonald wasn’t there to relax.

“The last couple years, we went (to Duluth) for cross country camps,” McDonald said. “(We were) running across the beach by Lake Superior and kind of like the Canal Park area.”

Those treks made an impression on McDonald, and now, he’s signed his National Letter of Intent to continue running – but this time, it’ll be on the track at Minnesota Duluth.

“I mainly just like the Duluth area, and I think it'd be a cool place to live,” McDonald said. “And it's also a pretty good running program.”

When he commenced his college search, McDonald examined the choices of his older friends. UMD popped up on his radar, and he soon realized that attaining a place on the Bulldogs’ track team was a distinct possibility.

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“I started looking into Duluth, and I contacted the coach asking about what certain times I'd have to run in order to go there,” McDonald said. “And I was within that range, so I just decided that would probably be a good fit.”

McDonald will run mid-distance events at UMD. Through years of competition in both cross country and track, he’s found that this is the best match for his skill set.

“That's just kind of what I've been better at,” McDonald said. “My junior year is when I started running mid-distance, and I realized that's what I'm better at.”

With his decision out the way – and having found the events that suit him best – McDonald can now enjoy the rest of his high school career without stressing over his future.

“It's a relief,” McDonald said. “It's nice not having to worry about it as much.”

Christian Babcock is a sports reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer. He trekked to Bemidji from his hometown of Campbell, Calif., after graduating from the Cronkite School at Arizona State University in 2021. Follow him on Twitter at @CB_Journalist for updates on the Lumberjacks and Beavers or to suggest your favorite local restaurant.
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