Peterson, Olson win Section 7A cross country titles

CLOQUET -- Ellyssa Peterson had a race last week she'd rather forget.Peterson, a Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin senior, finished second at the Iron Range Conference cross country meet at Hoyt Lakes, but her time of 20 minutes, 59 seconds, was abysmal...

Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin’s Ellyssa Peterson leads other runners early in the Section 7A girls cross country meet in Cloquet. Peterson won the event with a time of 19:34.4. (Steve Kuchera /

CLOQUET - Ellyssa Peterson had a race last week she’d rather forget.
Peterson, a Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin senior, finished second at the Iron Range Conference cross country meet at Hoyt Lakes, but her time of 20 minutes, 59 seconds, was abysmal by her standards.
“I had a bad race, but you just have to be mentally strong,” Peterson said. “You have to know how to put the bad races behind you. I said to myself, ‘You can’t let this get to you. You’re better than that.’ I got a lot of sleep and I visualized my next race.”
She then laughed and said, “I even meditated one night.”
Whatever she did, it worked.
Always a fast starter, Peterson was in control from start to finish to win her first Section 7A girls cross country title Thursday at Cloquet Country Club in 19:34.4, nearly 20 seconds ahead of runner-up Erika Fox of Carlton and more than 80 seconds better than her lackluster performance at the IRC meet.
Moose Lake-Willow River/Barnum junior Ethan Olson was equally impressive in winning the boys race, covering the
5 kilometers in a personal-record 16:18.4.
The top two teams and next eight individuals qualified for the state meet Nov. 5 at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. It will be Peterson’s fourth straight state appearance.
“This one means the most to me,” Peterson said. “This was my last one, so I had to make it count.”
Peterson has dealt with iron deficiency and takes supplements to counteract it. She is also known to hyperventilate when she gets excited or stressed.
Fox, Peterson’s longtime rival, never was able to mount a serious challenge but was steady and consistent as always. After finishing, it was as if Fox had barely broken a sweat. The senior stuck around a bit to cheer on her teammates and congratulate other runners, but then it was off to class at Lake Superior College as part of her Postsecondary Enrollment Options. The defending section champion finished an impressive fourth at the state meet last year.
Peterson would like to do the same. She is eyeing a top-five finish this year after taking 11th a year ago. After Thursday’s performance, who could doubt her?
“I was able to stay calm and control my breathing, and that makes all the difference for me,” Peterson said. “I’ve had a lot of up-and-down races this season, so it meant a lot to me to prove to myself that I could do this. The first mile was pretty easy for me, but then about mile two, that’s when it started to hurt. You just have to stay strong and power through.”
r The GNK boys team came by to pay homage to Peterson afterward, bowing down like they were kissing her feet, but they’re no slouches themselves. The Titans edged Ely to win the team title, taking five of the top 16 spots, led by eighth-grader Geno Uhrbom (second) and junior Noah Cuellar-Axley (fifth). The Proctor girls have dealt with injuries this fall but still had enough to top Ely in defending its team title, with junior Hannah Bettendorf leading the way with an eighth-place finish.
“It feels pretty good,” Uhrbom said. “We’re like one big family. We basically do everything together, team events, team dinners, team breakfast, a little bit of everything. We took second to Ely last year, so it was our turn.”
Olson blazes trail
The Cloquet Country Club course features a flat course with a short loop followed by two big loops.
Olson was making the turn onto the No. 3 fairway for the second time during the boys race when he glanced to his left to see where the rest of the pack was.
No need to get excited. This race was all his as he won by 33.8 seconds over Uhrbom.
“I was just making sure nobody was sneaking up,” Olson said. “I find it easier to push myself when I’m by myself, actually, and I run my best on flat courses.”
The Rebels junior certainly looked the part of an elite runner, with long legs and shaded glasses to overcome his nearsightedness.
Olson finished second at sections to North Shore’s Jake Paron last year. The oft-injured Paron finished third on Thursday, crossing the line, falling to the grass and groaning, “Oh, that hurts,” but he accomplished his No. 1 goal of qualifying for the state meet.
Olson finished 59th at state last year but will finish much higher if he runs anything close to what he did Thursday. He has lopped more than 30 seconds off his PR from last year. His goal this year is top 10.
“This race definitely gives me the confidence to get there,” he said.
Lumberjacks win 7AA title
Senior Isaac Boedigheimer finished fourth to lead Cloquet to the Section 7AA boys team title on Thursday in Princeton, Minn.
It was an impressive team performance, with the Lumberjacks taking five of the top 15 spots to easily hold off Forest Lake and Duluth East and capture their second section team title.
Running at the Princeton Golf Course, Boedigheimer covered the 5K in 16:52.5. Elk River senior Christian Leonard won in 16:26.6. Cloquet senior Conner Denman and sophomore teammate Aidan Ripp finished eighth and ninth, respectively.
Cloquet senior Anja Maijala was the Northland’s top 7AA girls individual, finishing fifth in 19:39.6, followed by Duluth East sophomore Molly Weberg, Grand Rapids junior Emma Stertz, Duluth East senior Lauren Dynek and Hermantown eighth-grader Laura Dahlin.
Forest Lake sophomore Regan Duffy won in 18:54.4 as the Rangers continued their dominance by defending their section team title.
Next week will be the fourth state appearance for Boedigheimer and Maijala.

Section 7A Meet
At Cloquet Country Club
Thursday’s Results
(Top 2 teams, next 8 individuals advance)
1. Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin, 50; 2. Ely, 57; 3. Moose Lake-Willow River/Barnum, 119; 4. Esko, 122; 5. North Shore, 151; 6. Eveleth-Gilbert, 179; 7. International Falls, 192; 8. Lakeview Christian Academy, 246; 9. Cromwell-Wright/Floodwood, 273; 10. Proctor, 275; 11. Duluth Marshall, 300; 12. Virginia, 306; 13. Mountain Iron-Buhl, 315; 14. Mesabi East, 318; 15. Deer River/Northland, 361; 16. Chisholm, 439; 17. South Ridge/North Woods/Northeast Range, 471.
1. Ethan Olson, MLWRB, 16:18.4; 2. Geno Uhrbom, GNK, 16:52.2; 3. Jake Paron, NS, 16:54.0; 4. Joshua Kemp, Esko, 16:55.0; 5. Noah Cuellar-Axley, GNK, 16:57.7; 6. Luke Olson, Ely, 17:02.1; 7. Joey Pierce, Ely, 17:11.4; 8. Noah Smith, NS, 17:11.8; 9. Sam Rengo, Esko, 17:14.0; 10. Jake Seitz, Virginia, 17:16.7; 11. James Schwinghamer, Ely, 17:17.3; 12. Dylan Carlson, GNK, 17:23.0; 13. Cameron Dickey, CWF, 17:23.4; 14. Teddy Pierce, Ely, 17:30.4; 15. Terrence Palkki, GNK, 17:35.8; 16. Cody Staydohar, GN, 17:36.3; 17. Wyatt Rauvola, CWF, 17:36.6; 19. Simon Stouffer, Ely, 17:54.5; 32. Ethan Hasz, Ely, 18:19.7; 33. Ben Gustafson, Ely, 18:20.8; 55. Greg Peterson, GNK, 18:58.5; 56. Dylan DeChampeau, GNK, 18:59.7.
1. Proctor, 91; 2. Ely, 103; 3. Esko, 128; 4. Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin, 130; 5. Carlton, 164; 6. North Shore, 174; 7. South Ridge/North Woods/Northeast Range, 197; 8. Duluth Marshall, 220; 9. Moose Lake-Willow River/Barnum, 222; 10. Eveleth-Gilbert, 229; 11. Mesabi East, 247; 12. International Falls, 265; 13. Virginia, 300; 14. Deer River/Northland, 325; 15. Mountain Iron-Buhl, 338.
1. Ellyssa Peterson, GNK, 19:34.4; 2. Erika Fox, Carlton, 19:52.9; 3. Erin Bianco, Ely, 20:03.9; 4. Ashlee Siegle, DM, 20:04.4; 5. Savannah Gamst, MLWRB, 20:10.3; 6. Natalie Fultz, EG, 20:15.0; 7. Ryne Prigge, Ely, 20:24.5; 8. Hannah Bettendorf, Proctor, 20:27.1; 9. Carlee Plackner, GNK, 20:40.0; 10. Brittny Hillstrom, Carlton, 20:42.1; 11. Taina Koivisto, SRNWNR, 20:45.6; 12. Morgan Binsfield, Proctor, 20:55.3; 15. Emma Terwillger, Ely, 21:02.3; 17. Courtney Werner, Proctor, 21:06.3; 20. Annika Voss, Proctor, 21:21.6; 25. Caroline Homer, Ely, 21:35.8; 34. Makayla McGregor, Proctor, 21:59.2; 37. Sydney Binsfield, Proctor, 22:04.6; 41. Paige Lusti, Proctor, 22:13.3; 55. Kaylyssa Eilrich, Ely, 22:55.7; 68. Evelyn Bercher, Ely, 23:25.0; 73. Taryn Osthoff, Ely, 24:06.3.

Section 7AA Meet
At Princeton, Minn.
Thursday’s Results
(Top 2 teams, next 8 individuals advance)
1. Cloquet, 48; 2. Forest Lake, 65; 3. Duluth East, 103; 4. Andover, 108; 5. Elk River, 125; 6. Grand Rapids, 160; 7. Big Lake, 178; 8. Cambridge-Isanti, 236; 9. St. Francis, 263; 10. North Branch, 269; 11. Hermantown, 346; 12. Hibbing, 349; 13. Chisago Lakes, 349; 14. Princeton, 359; 15. Zimmerman, 442; 16. Duluth Denfeld, 450.
1. Christian Leonard, ER, 16:26.6; 2. Charlie Babcock, FL, 16:38.2; 3. Tom Breuckman, Andover, 16:39.7; 4. Isaac Boedigheimer, Cloquet, 16:52.5; 5. Jacob Heyne, ER, 17:06.6; 6. Mathew Trutna, BL, 17:08.8; 7. Josiah Huffman, Andover, 17:12.1; 8. Conner Denman, Cloquet, 17:12.7; 9. Aidan Ripp, Cloquet, 17:13.4; 10. Andrew Arthur, DE, 17:18.2; 11. Isaiah Zak, FL, 17:19.1; 12. Parker Sinkkonen, Clouqet, 17:19.1; 13. Spencer Kotys, FL, 17:21.9; 14. Vasek Cervenka, GR, 17:24.5; 15. Blaine Bong, Cloquet, 17:27.1; 16. Eli Koski, DE, 17:29.7; 19. Will Valentin, FL, 17:35.6; 20. Ryan Mead, FL, 17:36.5; 26. Drew Sampson, FL, 17:50.7; 31. Blake Desmond, Cloquet, 18:02.5; 44. Andy Haines, FL, 18:16.9; 87. John Waltjer, Cloquet, 19:43.7.

1. Forest Lake, 40; 2. Andover, 87; 3. Duluth East, 99; 4. Elk River, 125; 5. Cloquet, 205; 6. North Branch, 205; 7. Cambridge-Isanti, 225; 8. Hibbing, 237; 9. Grand Rapids, 247; 10. Hermantown, 252; 11. Chisago Lakes, 290; 12. Princeton, 293; 13. Zimmerman, 317; 14. St. Francis, 331; 15. Big Lake, 389.
1. Regan Duffy, FL, 18:54.4; 2. Amelea Hauer, FL, 19:17.9; 3. Rhianna Rinke, NB, 19:20.0; 4. Caroline Schoessow, FL, 19:27.4; 5. Anja Maijala, Cloquet, 19:39.6; 6. Molly Weberg, DE, 19:44.9; 7. Emma Stertz, GR, 19:49.5; 8. Lauren Dynek, DE, 19:54.6; 9. Laura Dahlin, Herm., 20:02.6; 10. Ava Wilson, FL, 20:02.8; 11. Julia Nielsen, Andover, 20:04.4; 12. Lauren Cawcutt, Cloquet, 20:05.4; 13. Jillian Yerges, NB, 20:09.5; 14. Alexa Havon, Andover, 20:18.7; 15. Alyssa Gerth, Andover, 20:21.6; 21. Elizabeth Donner, Andover, 20:38.8; 23. Amanda Forliti, FL, 20:44.0; 24. Annabelle Stang, FL, 20:50.2; 26. Lauren Johnson, Andover, 20:58.2; 27. Makeline Greelis, Andover, 21:00.3; 32. Jesseca Overland, FL, 21:11.1; 56. Skylar Sandin, Andover, 22:20.3.


Moose Lake-Willow River’s Ethan Olson (left) and North Shore’s Jake Paron lead the field during the Section 7A boys cross country meet on Thursday in Cloquet. Olson won the event with a time of 16:18.4; Paron finished third with a time of 16:54.0. (Steve Kuchera /

Jon Nowacki joined the News Tribune in August 1998 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Stephen, Minnesota, in the northwest corner of the state, where he was actively involved in school and sports and was a proud member of the Tigers’ 1992 state championship nine-man football team.

After graduating in 1993, Nowacki majored in print journalism at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, serving as editor of the college paper, “The Aquin,” and graduating with honors in December 1997. He worked with the Associated Press during the “tobacco trial” of 1998, leading to the industry’s historic $206 billion settlement, before moving to Duluth.

Nowacki started as a prep reporter for the News Tribune before moving onto the college ranks, with an emphasis on Minnesota Duluth football, including coverage of the Bulldogs’ NCAA Division II championships in 2008 and 2010.

Nowacki continues to focus on college sports while filling in as a backup on preps, especially at tournament time. He covers the Duluth Huskies baseball team and auto racing in the summer. When time allows, he also writes an offbeat and lighthearted food column entitled “The Taco Stand,” a reference to the “Taco Jon” nickname given to him by his older brother when he was a teenager that stuck with him through college. He has a teenage daughter, Emma.

Nowacki can be reached at or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
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