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Cross country: Superior’s McMeekin, Cloquet’s Fischer defend Lake Superior Conference titles

McMeekin led from start to finish while Fischer waited for the first downhill to make his move.

Cloquet’s Miles Fischer (3075), Grand Rapids’ Adrian Hanson-Kaasa (3148) and Duluth Denfeld’s Charles Juntunen (3121) lead the pack around some greenery as they run up the hill on the first lap of the Lake Superior Conference meet
Cloquet’s Miles Fischer (3075), Grand Rapids’ Adrian Hanson-Kaasa (3148) and Duluth Denfeld’s Charles Juntunen (3121) lead the pack around some greenery as they run up the hill on the first lap of the Lake Superior Conference meet at Grand View Golf Links in Duluth on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022. Fischer won the race in 16:34.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
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DULUTH — Superior sophomore cross country runner Tayler McMeekin was trailing Northwestern’s Jenna Hursh with a lap to go at the John Woodbury Invitational Sept. 20 in Lake Nebagamon when she fell and didn’t finish the race.

“I don’t know what happened,” McMeekin said. “We’re thinking my knees buckled going down a hill.”

McMeekin and Co. believe it’s related to growth-plate issues that began last season, when she burst onto the cross-country scene as a freshman, finishing 19th at the Wisconsin big-school state meet.

“She needs to grow and close that plate,” said Tayler’s mother, Jaime McMeekin.

In the meantime, a little rest apparently does the trick.

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Tayler McMeekin cruised to victory at the Lake Superior Conference Cross Country Championships Tuesday, Oct. 11, covering the 5-kilometer course in 19 minutes, 39.3 seconds, with Proctor’s Lizzy Harnell a distant second in 20:03.8 and Hibbing’s Mileena Sullivan third in 20:19.2.

Superior’s Tayler McMeekin (5142) builds a healthy lead over second place on her way to a Lake Superior Conference crown
Superior’s Tayler McMeekin (5142) builds a healthy lead over second place on her way to a Lake Superior Conference crown during the LSC meet at Grand View Golf Links in Duluth on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Cloquet senior Miles Fischer broke from the early pack in the boys race and won going away in 16:34, with Superior’s Jacob Lind second in 17:29.7 and Duluth Denfeld’s Charles Juntunen third in 17:38.6.

McMeekin and Fischer were the defending champions.

Fischer wasn’t the early leader going up the hill on the first lap but he ran a smart race. As soon as they got to the top, he took control on the downhill and appeared to just keep getting faster.

“I planned on trying to save my energy going up that first hill, to conserve for the rest of the race,” Fischer said. “I just knew I could push on the downhills pretty quick, so I used those to my advantage. Those downhills are really fun. You go really fast. There’s not much to slow you down.”

Superior’s Jacob Lind (5138) sprints to the finish line for a second place finish during the Lake Superior Conference meet
Superior’s Jacob Lind (5138) sprints to the finish line for a second place finish during the Lake Superior Conference meet at Grand View Golf Links in Duluth on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Hibbing, which got a third-place finish from Mileena Sullivan, edged Proctor by a point to win the girls team title, 41 to 40, while Adrian Hanson-Kaasa’s fourth-place finish helped Grand Rapids hold off Hibbing for the boys team title.

The championships featured an unseasonably warm 80-degree day with a 16-mph wind from the south, and while it could snow any time in October in Minnesota, this was rather uncomfortable for fall running.

“It was super hot. The sun was beating down, especially over there,” McMeekin said, pointing to the stretch approaching the finish-line area. “Over there, it was especially brutal because you couldn’t even run, the wind was pushing you so hard, straight into it.”

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That’s not to say the start was a whole lot easier, either. After a small downhill, it was basically all uphill until you nearly reached the halfway point of the loop, and the runners had to do it three times, once for each lap.

Proctor’s Lizzy Harnell (5085) holds a lead over Hibbing’s Mileena Sullivan (5047) and Duluth Denfeld’s Grace McCormick (3125) during the Lake Superior Conference meet
Proctor’s Lizzy Harnell (5085) holds a lead over Hibbing’s Mileena Sullivan (5047) and Duluth Denfeld’s Grace McCormick (3125) during the Lake Superior Conference meet at Grand View Golf Links in Duluth on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022. Harnell finished second, Sullivan was third and McCormick finished fourth.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

“That hill took so long,” McMeekin said. “It was very hard to stay sane. My legs were burning, but then the downhill felt good.”

Fischer agreed.

“It was definitely tough having to start out on that uphill,” he said. “Then knowing you have to do that same thing three times, and even though you know it’s coming, it’s still hard every time.”

The LSC championships serve as a sectional tuneup for runners on both sides of the bridge.

Superior’s sectionals are Oct. 22 in West Salem, Wisconsin.

After dropping out of the John Woodbury Invite, McMeekin ran in Hibbing but had knee pain, so she skipped the Spartans’ meet on a hilly Hayward course.

“I feel like the break after the Woodbury meet helped,” she said. “I’m feeling pretty good now. I feel like I had more adrenaline this race because it mattered more.”

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When asked if Tuesday’s performance was a good sign, McMeekin cracked a grin brighter than the sunshine beaming down on her and said, “Yes, for sure.”

Lake Superior Conference

Cross Country Championships

At Grand View Golf Course

Tuesday’s Results

Boys

Teams

1. Grand Rapids, 45; 2. Hibbing, 54; 3. Cloquet, 75; 4. Superior, 77; 5. Hermantown, 125; 6. Proctor, 156; 7. Duluth Denfeld, 162.

Top 10 Individuals

1. Miles Fischer, Cloq., 16 minutes, 34 seconds; 2. Jacob Lind, Sup., 17:29.7; 3. Charles Juntunen, DD, 17:38.6; 4. Adrian Hanson-Kaasa, GR, 18:05.3; 5. Joey Gabardi, Hib., 18:08.2; 6. Lucas Arnhold, Hib., 18:13.2; 7. Nikolas Casper, GR, 18:15.9; 8. Zane Poenix, GR, 18:22.0; 9. Cooper Lucarelli, Herm., 18:24.4; 10. Silas Langner, Hib., 18:34.3.

Girls

Teams

1. Hibbing, 40; 2. Proctor, 41; 3. Superior, 104; 4. Cloquet, 107; 5. Duluth Denfeld, 139; 6. Hermantown, 141; 7. Duluth Marshall, 142; 8. Grand Rapids, 196.

Top 10 Individuals

1. Tayler McMeekin, Sup., 19:39.3; 2. Lizzy Harnell, Proc., 20:03.8; 3. Mileena Sullivan, Hib., 20:19.2; 4. Grace McCormick, DD, 20:30.0; 5. Stella Lozano, DM, 21:25.7; 6. Paige Evans, Proc., 21:29.2; 7. Hannah Farnsworth, Hib., 21:29.2; 8. Avery Kukowski, Hib., 21:29.4; 9. Della Bettendorf, Proc., 21:33.0; 10. Abigail Theien, Hib. 21:37.1.

Cloquet’s Bri LaCore (3085) finishes in 15th place for the Lumberjacks
Cloquet’s Bri LaCore (3085) finishes in 15th place for the Lumberjacks during the Lake Superior Conference meet at Grand View Golf Links in Duluth on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
Duluth Denfeld’s Charles Juntunen (3121) falls to the ground after crossing the finish line in third place
Duluth Denfeld’s Charles Juntunen (3121) falls to the ground after crossing the finish line in third place during the Lake Superior Conference meet at Grand View Golf Links in Duluth on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
Duluth Marshall’s Keanna Simula (5061) exhales as she crosses the finish line in fifth place
Duluth Marshall’s Keanna Simula (5061) exhales as she crosses the finish line in fifth place during the Lake Superior Conference meet at Grand View Golf Links in Duluth on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
Cloquet’s Keanna Simula (3103) reacts after crossing the finish line during the Lake Superior Conference meet
Cloquet’s Keanna Simula (3103) reacts after crossing the finish line during the Lake Superior Conference meet at Grand View Golf Links in Duluth on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
Superior’s Jaden Karren (5133) runs through leaves on his way to a 15th place finish
Superior’s Jaden Karren (5133) runs through leaves on his way to a 15th place finish during the Lake Superior Conference meet at Grand View Golf Links in Duluth on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
Cloquet’s Miles Fischer (3075) builds a commanding lead on the second lap on his way to a Lake Superior Conference crown
Cloquet’s Miles Fischer (3075) builds a commanding lead on the second lap on his way to a Lake Superior Conference crown during the LSC meet at Grand View Golf Links in Duluth on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
Superior’s Tayler McMeekin (5142) runs all alone on her second lap of her win at the Lake Superior Conference meet
Superior’s Tayler McMeekin (5142) runs all alone on her second lap of her win at the Lake Superior Conference meet at Grand View Golf Links in Duluth on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
Cloquet’s Calvin Snesrud (3104) takes eleventh place for the Lumberjacks
Cloquet’s Calvin Snesrud (3104) takes eleventh place for the Lumberjacks during the Lake Superior Conference meet at Grand View Golf Links in Duluth on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
Superior’s Savannah Leopold (5137) looks back at Hibbing’s Jocelyn Strukel (5046) during the Lake Superior Conference meet
Superior’s Savannah Leopold (5137) looks back at Hibbing’s Jocelyn Strukel (5046) during the Lake Superior Conference meet at Grand View Golf Links in Duluth on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

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 jnowacki@duluthnews.com or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
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