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Prep cross country: Virginia's Stocke completes meteoric rise at Swain

Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com Runners leave the starting line of the Class A boys race during the Swain Invitational at Enger Golf Course on Saturday afternoon. 1 / 2
Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com Runner-up Cameron Stocke of Virginia approaches the finish line of the Class A boys race during the Swain Invitational at Enger Golf Course on Saturday afternoon. 2 / 2

Cameron Stocke was enjoying life the summer before his seventh-grade year and not taking anything too seriously.

The results showed as he was a good cross country but not a great one.

What a difference a year makes.

Now an eighth-grader, Stocke is an up-and-comer on the Northland cross-country scene as evidenced by his second-place finish in the Class A boys race at the 68th annual Swain Invitational on Saturday at Enger Park Golf Course.

Stocke covered the notoriously unforgiving 5-kilometer course in 16 minutes, 29.6 seconds, just two seconds behind Mora junior Cooper Lennox, who passed Stocke right after the second and final loop and beat him down the homestretch. Ely junior Luke Olson was third in 16:44.7.

“I’m not feeling the best actually,” Stocke said. “It’s just a very hard course. It’s easily the hardest course we do all year.”

Overcast with temperatures in the upper 40s, the weather was rather ideal for running, but the course was wet from recent rainfall. It was hard for spectators not to get their socks soaked as they scurried about trying to follow the runners.

Certain low spots at Enger resembled the moon’s surface, like pocket craters, but the course itself was decent. One low turn was pretty chewed up, but that was about it.

“Better than last year,” Stocke said.

Swain Invitational

At Enger Park Golf Course

Class AA

Boys

Teams

  1. Forest Lake, 49; 2. St. Michael-Albertville, 52; 3. Cloquet, 94; 4. Austin, 100; 5. Cambridge-Isanti, 215; 6. Park (Cottage Grove), 217; 7. Minneapolis Southwest, 245; 8. Grand Rapids, 248; 9. North Branch, 256; 10. Spring Lake Park, 298.
Individuals
  1. Carter Knaus, SMA, 16 minutes, 18.1 seconds; 2. Charles Babcock, FL, 16:22.0; 3. Max Charleson, FL, 16:41.8; 4. Jordan Allen, Cloquet, 16:42.9; 5. Meti Omod, Austin, 16:48.3; 6. Jonah Breuer, SMA, 16:51.1; 7. Jakob Baatrup-Sabo, Mpls. SW, 16:55.4; 8. Henry Hinchcliffe, Austin, 17:13.9; 9. Luke Peterson, SMA, 17:16.4; 10. Daniel Vanacker, FL, 17:18.8.
Girls

Teams

  1. St. Michael-Albertville, 18; 2. Forest Lake, 67; 3. Rocori, 102; 4. Visitation, 119; 5. Minneapolis Southwest, 178; 6. South St. Paul, 180; 7. Austin, 222; 8. St. Anthony Village, 263; 9. Spring Lake Park, 271; 10. Chisago Lakes, 274.
Individuals
  1. Ali Weimer, SMA, 18:35.5; 2. Katie Sigerud, SMA, 18:58.1; 3. Mia Salas, SMA, 19:12.8; 4. Jessica Immer, SMA, 19:14.0; 5. Jordan Parent, FL, 19:30.4; 6. Maddie Hannan, Mpls. SW, 19:31.0; 7. Margaret Dalseth, Visitation, 19:31.8; 8. Anna Belair, SMA, 19:36.8; 9. Ellie Hanowski, FL, 19:43.4; 10. Regan Duffy, FL, 19:44.4.
Class A

Boys

Teams

  1. Minnehaha Academy, 121; 2. Mora, 133; 3. East Grand Forks, 147; 4. North Shore, 166; 5. Plainview-Elgin-Millville, 173; 6. Lake City, 202; 7. Ely, 225; 8. Pine City, 252; 9. Wadena-Deer Creek, 321; 10. Cromwell/Floodwood, 354.
Individuals
  1. Cooper Lennox, Mora, 16:27.7; 2. Cameron Stocke, Virginia, 16:29.6; 3. Luke Olson, Ely, 16:44.7; 4. Tyson Mahar, EGF, 16:48.5; 5. Cole Nowacki, EGF, 16:55.3; 6. Max Gifford, MA, 7. Wyatt Rauvola, CF, 17:13.2; 8. Samson Hagen, PEM, 17:14.3; 9. Dalton Piotter, Mountain Lake, 17:14.4; 10. Isaac Swanson, NS, 17:16.9.
Girls

Teams

  1. Lake City, 163; 2. North Shore, 166; 3. Blake, 176; 4. East Grand Forks, 181; 5. Mora, 183; 6. Rockford, 213; 7. Minnehaha Academy, 226; 8. Moose Lake-Willow River/Barnum, 236; 9. Glencoe-Silver Lake, 263; 10. Virginia, 307.
Individuals
  1. Katherine Geist, Crookston, 19:09.5; 2. Ava Hill, Mesabi East, 19:39.8; 3. Jacey Majerus, LC, 20:00.2; 4. Natalie Fultz, EG, 20:03.7; 5. Grace Kassebaum, MA, 20:08.9; 6. Greta Hansen, Math and Science Academy, 20:17.5; 7. Annika Aho, United North Central, 20:22.3; 8. Molly Liston, Blake, 20:32.4; 9. Alaina Steele, Pine City, 20:35.5; 10. Emma Stattelman, Duluth Marshall, 20:39.8.

Stocke wasn’t even on the running radar last year, when he finished 42nd at the Swain in 19:17. Not this year.

Stocke grew more than four inches in the past year and stands just over 5-foot-8, and he increased his mileage from 5 to 10 miles per week to 20 to 30 this summer.

“Holy cow,” teammate Owen Engel said upon hearing of Stocke’s second-place finish. “His improvement is amazing.”

Stocke, who also plays basketball, missed the state cross country meet by two spots last year but looks like a safe bet to make it this year. He clocked a 4:38 in the 1,600 last spring — a time not far off what Class A’s top-ranked runner — Geno Uhrbom of Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin — did when he was that age. GNK skipped the Swain this year.

Stocke reeled in Lennox two weeks ago at the Milaca Mega Meet to finish third, just over 20 seconds off Uhrbom’s winning time. This time, Stocke led most of the race but couldn’t hold on. Still, he was optimistic, and who could blame him?

“I’d like to make it to state and hopefully crack 16 minutes,” Stocke said.

After trudging up Enger’s hills, the fun part is supposed to be going down them. Not necessarily.

“It’s almost dangerous,” Stocke said. “You don’t want to slip, because that wouldn’t end well.”

Best of the rest

St. Michael-Albertville dominated the Class AA girls race, with freshman Ali Weimer leading a sweep of the top four spots. The Knights, who also got an eighth-place finish from junior Anna Belair, finished with 18 points, just three off a perfect score. Duluth East senior Molly Weberg was the Northland’s top finisher in 20:38.0, good for 24th.

  • Mesabi East junior Ava Hill grimaced as she crossed the line second in the Class A girls race. Her 19:39.8 was 30 seconds behind Crookston junior Katherine Geist.

Like Stocke, Hill said she wasn’t feeling well and could be heard laboring as she crossed the line.

“It was just kind of an off-day,” said Hill, Minnesota’s two-time defending Class A 800-meter champion. “My breathing was a little rough. Sometimes you just have those days.”

And if you’re having a bad day, the Swain course amplifies it, with lots of ups and downs.

“But mostly ups,” Hill said.

North Shore freshman Autumn Smith was 13th to help her team finish second in Class A.

  • The Cloquet boys finished third in Class AA after getting a fourth from junior Jordan Allen, who finished a pedestrian 33rd at last year’s Swain. He said he adjusted his training.

“Last year, I didn’t trust it and I pushed too hard,” Allen said. “This year I followed up on my training more closely. I’m running the hard days hard, and the easy days easy.”

Allen’s Cloquet teammate, senior Aidan Ripp, finished 11th after becoming the first Northland boy to win the Class AA Swain race since 2004 a year ago.

Ripp, who sported his trademark saliva beard as he crossed the line, competed in Nordic combined in the Czech Republic in late August before transitioning to cross country. He has been slowed by injuries this fall, nursing a hip flexor in one leg and a IT band in the other.

“I’m struggling with the mental game of it, but it’s getting there,” Ripp said. “Today, I felt like I could race. I didn’t feel like I was racing fast, but I felt like I had my race face on.”

Win, lose or draw, though, the mud-splattered Ripp was going to enjoy his last Swain.

“Not a lot of people can say they won this race, but I can,” Ripp said. “I just appreciated that. I may not have had a great race today, but I could still have a great race later on. I’ve always loved this race. It’s definitely one of my favorite races. It’s just like home to me. It’s muddy, it’s everything that cross country is about, and that’s what I love about it.”