by Scott DCamp
Thief River Falls runners Jerzie Finstad and Jake Davis punched their tickets to the 2019 Class A State Cross Country Meet with qualifying finishes at the Section 8A Meet Friday, Oct. 25 at Twin Pines Country Club in Bagley.
The top two teams and the top eight individuals who aren’t part of those teams qualify for state.
Finstad finished 11th overall with a time of 20:43.3. She previously qualified for state in ninth and 10th grade, but failed to qualify during her junior year.
Most of the teams in Section 8A ran on the course earlier in the month during the Bagley/Fosston Invitational. At that time, the course was wet with snow. It was much firmer on Friday, but still challenging.
“It was a slow race for everybody, I wasn’t too upset with my time because everybody was about a minute slower than their seed time,” Finstad said. The state course in Northfield will be a little more challenging. “It has a few hills, but the atmosphere makes up for it,” she said, adding that her goal time for state is in the 19:30 to 19:40 range.”
Thief River Falls Head Coach Natasha Reierson is confident in her most experienced runner.
“Jerzie is a great runner, if she puts her mind to it, she’s going to do it,” said Reierson.
Davis entered what could have been the final race of his high school career with one goal in mind – run the best race of his career.
“I was just going to push the pace at the start and keep the pace the whole time,” Davis said. “The perfect race is getting off to a fast start and not playing catch-up for the first half mile like I usually do, keep the pace the entire time, and the last 1,000K just keep pushing. It’s shorter if you run faster.”
Davis did just that. After the opening straight away, he settled into 11th place and battled with eventual 10th place finisher Hayden Reitmeier of Fisher to stay in that 11th or 12th place spot.
During the turn before the final straight away, both Davis and Reitmeier found another gear and both passed multiple runners to finish ninth and 10th, respectively. Davis’ time was 17:28.0 and he was the highest individual finisher that wasn’t part of section champion Perham or section runner-up East Grand Forks.
“I’ve been telling everybody this week, we have worked so hard and we are where we are because of what we have done the past two and a half months,” Reierson said. “These kids are coachable and Jake is the most coachable kid I’ve ever coached in my life.”
The Prowlers were close to getting one more qualifier on the girls side, with Dru Harbott taking 16th place, one spot away from qualifying for state.
“We knew she was going to be close – anywhere from in to four or five spots out,” Reierson said. “She ended up being one spot out. She ran as well as she could today and she has done so well this year.”
Other finishers on the girls side were Lily MacLean and Kelsey Baltes, who finished 33rd and 72nd, respectively. Boys finishers included Daniel Quick in 38th place; Jonah Kalsnes, 41st; Isaac Mauch, 48th; Ethan Lunsetter, 71st; Will MacLean, 89th; and Paul Koppenhaver, 92nd. Perham won both team titles.
Hawley was second on the girls side and East Grand Forks was second on the boys side.
Thief River Falls finished seventh in the boys team race and the Thief River Falls girls team was incomplete, with only four runners competing.
• State Qualifiers – 1. Jade Rypkema, Nevis 18:54.9; 2. Kira Sweeney, Wadena-Deer Creek, 19:27.6; 3. Liz Birkeland, Perham, 19:48.1; 4. Lydia Floden, East Grand Forks 20:07.2; 5. Mya Morris, Perham, 20:18.1; 6. Quincy Anderson, Perham, 20:29.3; 7. Anjalie Aho, United North Central, 20:33.4; 8. Abby Syverson, Pelican Rapids, 20:34.9; 9. Lelia Johnson, Roseau, 20:35.6; 10. Kaia Starzl, Perham, 20:39.1; 11. Jerzie Finstad, Thief River Falls, 20:43.3; 12. Lily Olson, Hawley, 20:43.7; 13. Lily Peterson, Hawley, 20:45.3; 14. Eliana Bleess, Warroad, 20:54.5; 15. Ivy Tickel Hawley 21:05.8; 19. Lauryn Rustad, Perham, 21:27.1; 20. Abby Tweeton, Perham, 21:28.6; 31. Kira Thompson, Hawley, 22:28.7; 49. Piper Myran, Hawley, 23:17.3; 50. Mia Tickel, Hawley, 23:18.7; 65. Trista Baer, Hawley, 24:06.6. n TRF places – 11. Jerzie Finstad 20:43; 16. Dru Harbott 21:06; 33. Lily MacLean 22:31; 72. Kelsey Baltes 25:02.
• Team scores – 1. Perham 41; 2. Hawley 105; 3. United North Central 105; 4. Wadena-Deer Creek 114; 5. East Grand Forks 121; 6. Warroad 156; 7. Pelican Rapids 167; 8. Nevis 179; 9. Lake Park-Audubon 179; 10. Roseau 231; 11. Ada-Borup/Norman County 280; Incomplete – Fosston, Cass Lake-Bena, Crookston, Clearbrook-Gonvick, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, Frazee, New York Mills, Park Rapids Area, Red Lake County, Thief River Falls, West Marshall.
• State Qualifiers – 1. Brandon O’Hara, Perham, 16:13.5; 2. Jakob McCleary, Perham, 16:21.1; 3. Tyson Mahar, East Grand Forks, 16:34.0; 4. Bailey Evenson, Perham, 16:34.1; 5. Cole Nowacki, East Grand Forks, 16:51.4; 6. Jonathan Krueger, East Grand Forks, 17:07.3; 7. Carson Hespe, Perham, 17:14.4; 8. Chase Belka, Perham, 17:15.3, 9. Jacob Davis, Thief River Falls, 17:28.0; 10. Hayden Reitmeier, Fisher, 17:31.3; 11. Bereket Loer, Wadena Deer Creek, 17:34.4; 12. David Johnston, Pelican Rapids, 17:36.0; 13. Tesfaye Young, Perham, 17:39.2; 14. Jack McNamee, Nevis 17:39.4; 15. Evan Pohl, Nevis, 17:41.1; 16. Owen Werner, Perham, 17:41.9; 17. Lucas Hinojos, Wadena Deer Creek, 17:45.1; 18. Nathan Johannsen Frazee, 17:49.5; 29. Dawson McDonald, East Grand Forks, 18:23.0; 60. Adam Johnson, East Grand Forks, 19:28.4; 88. Ethan Arnston, East Grand Forks, 20:14.2; 112. Hunter Jordheim, East Grand Forks, 21:27.4.
• TRF places – 9. Jake Davis 17:28; 38. Daniel Quick 18:41; 41. Jonah Kalsnes 18:50; 48. Isaac Mauch 19:02; 71. Ethan Lunsetter 19:43; 89. Will MacLean 20:16; 92. Paul Koppenhaver 20:34. n Team scores – 1. Perham 22; 2. East Grand Forks 98; 3. Frazee 118; 4. Nevis 135; 5. Wadena-Deer Creek 139; 6. Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 171; 7. Thief River Falls 194; 8. Bagley/Fosston 222; 9. Roseau 229; 10. Park Rapids Area 242; 11. Hawley 270; 12. Pelican Rapids 332; 13. Ada-Borup/Norman County West 346; 14. Warroad 352; 15. Lake Park-Audubon 367; 16. United North Central 402; 17. New York Mills 565; 18. Cass Lake-Bena 568; Incomplete: Clearbrook-Gonvick, Fisher, Lake of the Woods/Rainy River, Red Lake County, West Marshall.