Prep cross country: Uhrbom, Hill repeat as Section 7A champs

CLOQUET -- Geno Uhrbom went to Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin's tent on Thursday afternoon and ruffled through some bags, desperately trying to find his stocking cap.

Dave Harwig / For the News Tribune Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin's Geno Uhrbom leads Virginia's Cameron Stocke (right) and Ely's Luke Olson during Thursday's Section 7A cross-country meet at Cloquet Country Club.

CLOQUET - Geno Uhrbom went to Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin's tent on Thursday afternoon and ruffled through some bags, desperately trying to find his stocking cap.

Uhrbom finally gave up and settled for his sweatshirt's hood. That would have to do on this drizzling 43-degree day.

Uhrbom shook off the elements and the competition in defending his boys individual title at the Section 7A cross-country championships at Cloquet Country Club, finishing 5,000 meters in a season-best 15 minutes, 47.8 seconds, or 18 seconds ahead of Virginia eighth-grader Cameron Stocke.

Mesabi East junior Ava Hill defends her Section 7A girls cross-country title this afternoon at Cloquet Country Club. - Jon Nowacki (@TacoJon1) October 26, 2018


Mesabi East junior Ava Hill was also a repeat champion, winning the girls race in 18:54.5, 21 seconds ahead of Proctor senior Sydney Binsfield.

Mesabi East junior Ava Hill defends her Section 7A girls cross-country title this afternoon at Cloquet Country Club. - Jon Nowacki (@TacoJon1) October 26, 2018

Afterward, Uhrbom, wearing arm sleeves to help keep his circulation flowing, was asked how he was feeling.

"Exhausted," he said. "It was cold, but it was good for running. It wasn't so cold where you had to wear tights or anything."

Uhrbom's Titans knocked off defending champion North Shore to take the boys team title, while Hill helped the Giants hold off North Shore to take the girls team title, snapping Proctor's reign of three straight.

Before the starting gun, Uhrbom was the last to do his warm-up run, going about 100 yards out before coming back.

"It keeps me warm," Uhrbom said, "and it's nice to have that moment to be by myself before a race."


Uhrbom has had lot of moments running by himself this season. He hasn't lost to a Class A runner going into the state meet Nov. 3 at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.

Uhrbom, ranked No. 1 all season after finishing third in Class A last year, was asked if there was pressure on him, and he said flatly, "no."

"I've just gotten stronger," he said.

Stocke was about two seconds behind Uhrbom a mile into the race and about eight seconds back two miles in. Uhrbom clocked a 9:45 at that point, not far off his best track time for that distance, so they were moving.

"I went out a little too hard," Uhrbom said. "I keep running faster and faster because I don't want anybody to catch me."

There was no shame in Stocke's performance, either. The 13-year-old looks and acts the part, fresh-faced and shy with reporters. He lets others do the talking.

"Cam is special, and I'm so lucky to be a part of this," said his coach, Andy Del Greco. "He did great - very proud of him."

With cross country, a lot depends on conditions, but the personal-record 16:05.8 that Stocke clocked Thursday would have easily beaten Uhrbom's 16:28 in 2017. Stocke finished that race 19th in 17:56.6, showing just how far he's come in one year.


"Cam's the next one up," Uhrbom said.

Stocke hopes so. He was asked if he knew coming in that Uhrbom was the runner to beat in the section.

"In the state," Stocke said, correcting the statement.

So if you can stay with Uhrbom, you can stay with anybody.

"I'm hoping for a top-three at state," Stocke said.

If he runs like Thursday, he just might.

Weathering the weather

Relatively flat, Cloquet is known as a fast course, but the section meet is also known for its notoriously bad weather. So much so that meet official Brent Smith said last year's 40-degree temps were actually good.


"Last year we had six inches of snow the next day, so we missed it by a day," Smith explained.

Thursday was calm at least.

"I think this was better than last year," Uhrbom said. "There was no wind at least, and that's great when you're a runner."

Especially when you're in front.

Running down Hill

Hill, Minnesota's two-time defending Class A girls 800-meter champion, led Thursday from start to finish. She was asked how she keeps motivated when there's nobody to push her.

"You just pretend like somebody's right behind you at all times," she said.

Hill was laboring as she came across the line, huffing and puffing and groaning, but she downplayed it as the natural byproduct of running five kilometers as fast as possible.


"That's just hard work," she said. "The rain felt nice, actually."

Binsfield was all smiles Thursday, both during the race and afterwards. Binsfield always has had talent - she is leaning toward running at Michigan Tech - but she never made it to the state meet as an individual before.

That is, until this year.

"I was kind of tearing up at the finish line; I'm not going to lie," Binsfield said.

• GNK's Will Floersheim is the Section 7A boys coach of the year, while North Shore's Dan Hebl was named top assistant. Mesabi East's Steve Ekman and Kari Hunt were named Section 7A girls coach and assistant of the year, respectively.

Section 7A Championships

At Cloquet Country Club




1. Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin, 69; 2. North Shore, 86; 3. Ely, 143; 4. International Falls, 151; 5. Cromwell-Wright/Floodwood, 162; 6. Moose Lake-Willow River/Barnum, 174; 7. Mountain Iron-Buhl, 184; 8. Esko, 198; 9. Proctor, 213; 10. Lakeview Christian Academy, 219; 11. Virginia, 248; 12. Deer River, 294; 13. Wrenshall, 307; 14. Duluth Marshall, 379; 15. Mesabi East, 397; 16. East Central, 407; 17. South Ridge, 411; 18. Chisholm, 565; 19. McGregor, 566.


State Qualifiers

(Top two teams and next eight)

1. Geno Uhrbom, GNK, 15:47.8; 2. Cameron Stocke, V, 16:05.8; 3. Luke Olson, Ely, 16:32.0; 4. Isaac Swanson, NS, 16:54.9; 5. Brenden Seipke, NS, 16:55.0; 6. Andrew Larsen, EG, 16:55.1; 7. Aaron Nelson, MIB, 17:00.6; 8. Noah Smith, NS, 17:00.7; 9. Taran Howard, DR, 17:02.7; 10. Sam Rengo, Esko, 17:08.2; 11. Andrew Tyson, LCA, 17:13.1; 12. Greg Peterson, GNK, 17:16.2; 13. Spencer Engel, GNK, 17:17.3; 14. John Werner, P, 17:17.5; 16. Will Surbaugh, NS, 17:18.6; 17. Daniel Olson, GNK, 17:20.1; 30. Michael Butterfield, GNK, 17:58.1; 32. Weston Marx, GNK, 18:01.0; 49. Grant Hansen, GNK, 18:23.4; 57. J.C. Holman, NS, 18:43.4; 65. Kevin Viren, NS, 18:57.4; 78. Tate Crawford, NS, 19:14.7.



1. Mesabi East, 98; 2. North Shore, 111; 3. Moose Lake-Willow River/Barnum, 133; 4. Proctor, 135; 5. Duluth Marshall, 155; 6. Virginia, 174; 7. South Ridge, 193; 8. International Falls, 193; 9. Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin, 211; 10. Mountain Iron-Buhl, 213; 11. Eveleth-Gilbert, 285; 12. Ely, 287; 13. Wrenshall, 313; 14. Esko, 337; 15. East Central, 389; 16. Cromwell-Wright/Floodwood, 402; 17. Deer River, 484. 


State Qualifiers

(Top two teams and next eight)

1. Ava Hill, ME, 18:54.5; 2. Sydney Binsfield, P, 19:16.0; 3. Ashlee Siegle, DM, 19:37.9; 4. Natalie Fultz, EG, 19:42.0; 5. Lydia Skelton, ME, 19:47.0; 6. Bella Thomas, ME, 19:53.5; 7. Zoe Devine, Ely, 19:56.5; 8. Ryan Ford, IF, 20:06.6; 9. Emma Stattelman, DM, 20:16.7; 10. Cedar Gordon, NS, 20:20.4; 11. Alyssa Crettol, V, 20:22.1; 12. Kate Nelson, MIB, 20:22.9; 14. Lamar Gordon, NS, 20:26.0; 20. Autumn Smith, NS, 21:05.6; 29. Claire LaVigne, NS, 21:32.1; 38. Kate Walsberg, NS, 21:47.5; 41. Malin Anderson, NS, 21:54.2; 42. Hannah Hannuksela, ME, 21:56.4; 43. Louise Ramberg, NS, 22:00.1; 44. Riley Wallace, ME, 22:08.8; 59. Abigail Sickel, ME, 22:52.6; 60. Anna Greenlee, ME, 22:56.3.

Jon Nowacki is a former reporter for the Duluth News Tribune
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