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Prep cross country: Cloquet's Ripp uses historic feet to perform historic feat at Swain

North Shore’s Jake Paron climbs a hill at Enger Park Golf Course during Saturday’s 67th annual Swain Invitational. Paron finished second in the Class A boys race. Cromwell-Floodwood’s Wyatt Rauvola (269) finished ninth. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)1 / 2
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When it was suggested to Aidan Ripp that his victory among Class AA boys at Saturday’s Swain Invitational was by a comfortable margin, the Cloquet junior appeared unimpressed.

If golf is a good walk spoiled, you get the sense Ripp considers racing to be a good run spoiled. He doesn’t pay much attention to clock or competition, nor does he look at results afterward.

“You do your race. I don’t do his race, I don’t do your race, I do my race,” Ripp said. “So it doesn’t matter who’s running next to me.”

Saturday at Enger Park Golf Course, nobody was. Ripp became the first Northlander to best the big-school boys field at the Swain since Hibbing’s Ryan Brownell in 2004, crossing the soupy finish line in 17 minutes, 43.5 seconds.

Ripp grimaced his way through the closing stretch of a notoriously tough course, his ponytail bobbing, mud splotches on both legs. He was about 12 seconds faster than the St. Michael-Albertville duo of Carter Knaus (17:55.2) and Jonah Breuer (17:55.9).

Under blue skies, which had been overcast all morning and into the afternoon before clearing, Ripp grinded through the first 2.5 kilometers, eventually settling into a determined groove once he “just went for it.”

Moments after winning, Ripp wrapped his mother, Carolyn, in a bear hug. This meet means a little something extra to Ripp.

“As a kid, this was the most prestigious race you could do,” he said.

Thus, winning is a pretty big deal — whether you look at results or not.

  • St. Michael-Albertville eighth-grader Ali Weimer (20:13.9) was the top girl in Class AA. Her teammates occupied three of the next seven spots as the Knights won the team crown, just as they did on the boys side. The top local was Grand Rapids’ Emma Stertz (10th, 20:51.3).

CLASS A

Paron, Hill runners-up

North Shore senior Jake Paron and Mesabi East sophomore Ava Hill took different paths to second-place Class A showings Saturday. While Paron has done the Swain seven times, this was Hill’s debut.

That’s because she’s a cross country newbie. Hill used to swim in the fall, but she wanted to get faster on the track, where she captured a state championship at 800 meters last spring.

And here she is hanging around the Swain leaderboard.

While Hill gamely went out fast, nobody was catching Tierney Wolfgram, a freshman at Math and Science Academy of Woodbury and the defending Class A state champ. How dominant was Wolfgram? Her time of 19:02.5 was 48 seconds better than the 19:50.4 turned in by Hill, who was exactly a minute faster than the third-place finisher.

Still, Hill couldn’t complain. She’s exceeding her distance-running expectations one meet at a time.

“I didn’t expect to be that great my first year, but I thought I would improve as the years went on,” she said.

So no more fall sport changes?

“I think I’m going to be doing cross country from now on,” Hill said.

Compared to Hill, Paron is the wily veteran. He’s intimately familiar with the hilly Enger Park layout, which, aside from a few “soft and squishy” spots, held up well Saturday despite the recent rain.

“This is definitely the hardest course we do,” Paron said after producing a 17:40.1.

Underscoring the conditions, Paron ran a 16:47.5 a year ago — and finished fifth. In 2015, his 16:45.8 only netted eighth place. Saturday, then, was a struggle. Paron led early, but only briefly as his “glutes” tightened.

Math and Science Academy’s Harris Anderson was victorious in 17:21.7.

While Paron didn’t take home an individual title, he did pace the Storm to the Class A boys team crown.

67TH ANNUAL SWAIN INVITATIONAL

At Enger Park Golf Course

Saturday’s 5K Results

Class AA

Boys

Teams

  1. St. Michael-Albertville, 38; 2. Robbinsdale Armstrong, 73; 3. Champlin Park, 115; 4. Cloquet, 125; 5. Bloomington Jefferson, 203; 6. Park of Cottage Grove, 238; 7. Tartan, 253; 8. Minneapolis Southwest, 277; 9. Rocori, 281; 10. Grand Rapids, 288.
Individuals
  1. Aidan Ripp, Cloquet, 17:43.5; 2. Carter Knaus, St. Michael-Albertville, 17:55.2; 3. Jonah Breuer, St. Michael-Albertville, 17:55.9; 4. Brent Heinen, Rocori, 17:57.8; 5. Ben Aoki-Sherwood, Robbinsdale Armstrong, 17:58.7; 6. Connor Janostin, Champlin Park, 18:04.5; 7. Michael Youngberg, St. Michael-Albertville, 18:08.0; 8. Sam Himes, Robbinsdale Armstrong, 18:11.6; 9. Colden Longley, Bloomington Jefferson, 18:12.0; 10. Nate Ossell, Tartan, 18:14.1
Girls

Teams

  1. St. Michael-Albertville, 33; 2. Forest Lake, 45; 3. Minneapolis Southwest, 135; 4. Bloomington Jefferson, 139; 5. South St. Paul, 149; 6. Visitation, 163; 7. Duluth East, 191; 8. Rocori, 196; 9. Rochester Mayo, 277; 10. Cloquet, 323.
Individuals
  1. Ali Weimer, St. Michael-Albertville, 20:13.9; 2. Annalise Davis, St. Michael-Albertville, 20:18.1; 3. Elena Hayday, Bloomington Jefferson, 20:33.3; 4. Amelea Hauer, Forest Lake, 20:38.5; 5. Regan Duffy, Forest Lake, 20:39.0; 6. Mia Salas, St. Michael-Albertville, 20:41.7; 7. Emilie Meyer, Totino-Grace, 20:43.2; 8. Katie Sigerud, St. Michael-Albertville, 20:44.4; 9. Caroline Schoessow, Forest Lake, 20:48.4; 10. Emma Stertz, Grand Rapids, 20:51.3.
Class A

Boys

Teams

  1. North Shore, 115; 2. Mora, 121; 3. Esko, 147; 4. Math and Science Academy of Woodbury, 201; 5. Ely, 232; 6. Glencoe-Silver Lake, 243; 7. International Falls, 250; 8. Mountain Lake, 257; 9. Moose Lake-Willow River/Barnum, 265; 10. Trinity School at River Ridge, 275.
Individuals
  1. Harris Anderson, Math and Science Academy, 17:21.7; 2. Jake Paron, North Shore, 17:40.1; 3. Cooper Lennox, Mora, 17:44.2; 4. Ethan Olson, Moose Lake-Willow River/Barnum, 17:47.1; 5. Luke Olson, Ely, 17:51.6; 6. Nathan Runck, Mountain Lake, 17:53.6; 7. Joshua Kemp, Esko, 17:55.4; 8. Jack Heun, Watertown-Mayer, 18:00.6; 9. Wyatt Rauvola, Cromwell/Floodwood, 18:04.2; 10. Noah Smith, North Shore, 18:07.3.
Girls

Teams

  1. Lake City, 113; 2. St. Paul Academy and Summit, 118; 3. Mora, 119; 4. United North Central, 172; 5. Glencoe-Silver Lake, 188; 6. Mesabi East, 190; 7. Ely, 224; 8. Math and Science Academy, 226; 9. Proctor, 260; 10. Milaca, 265.
Individuals

1. Tierney Wolfgram, Math and Science Academy, 19:02.5; 2. Ava Hill, Mesabi East, 19:50.4; 3. Flann Enneking-Norton, St. Paul Academy and Summit, 20:50.4; 4. Maddy Breton, St. Paul Academy and Summit, 21:13.4; 5. Bella Thomas, Mesabi East, 21:27.7; 6. Hannah Bettendorf, Proctor, 21:40.7; 7. Annika Aho, United North Central, 21:43.5; 8. Ashlee Siegle, Duluth Marshall, 21:46.0; 9. Natalie Fultz, Eveleth-Gilbert, 21:51.3; 10. Hansen Greta, Math and Science Academy, 21:57.4.

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