Swain Invitational

Pictured above, from left to right, are Brody Killoren, Joseph Jensen, Jordan Rihn and Skyler Miles pack running at the Swain Invitational in Duluth, Minn., last week. Killoren finished right behind his teammates in a personal-record time of 23:38.

The Chetek-Weyerhaeuser runnin’ ‘Dogs were on the celebrated Birkie Trail on Tuesday, Oct. 2, and that means we were at Hayward’s home meet. The race takes place annually at Hatchery Creek County Park, just north of Hayward. Their meet is what I would call a “gut run,” something you do to measure your grit level, as opposed to how fast you are. When the byline for this race is “If you’re not running hills, you’re not running,” you know there’s elevation involved—and a lot of it.

For the third time this season, our boys ran an understrength, incomplete team. You need five runners to score, and on Tuesday, we could only field four on account of illness and a disciplinary issue. But our four ‘Dogs comported themselves well. In our world, there are PRs and there are “Hayward PRs” (HPRs), and two of our boys ran close to their HPR pace, and one actually succeeded his. 

Joseph Jensen finished ninth overall in 19:39, just 11 seconds off his best mark at Hatchery Creek. Jordan Rihn, fit with new orthotics, was out on the course again, having missed Ladysmith due to foot issues. After being sidelined for the last week or so, he ran decent, finishing 22:45. Nolan Loiselle crushed his previous HPR by nearly a minute, entering the chute at 24:02. Last but not least, Brody Killoren came in just a bit off his HPR at 27:20. 

Perhaps for the first time in many a year, our girls are running strong as a unit. Sure, freshman Lana Blumer is setting the pace, but every one of our girls is working hard and the results are telling.

Once again and early on, Blumer secured the top spot and held onto it throughout, breaking the tape at 21:29. We had to wait nearly a minute before the No. 2 girl came down the long hill at the end. Natalie Poppe had yet another strong race, finishing second for our team in 23:38 and 12th overall. She runs with the same intensity as Blumer does and she has the opportunity to make the podium at the conference meet.

Our other girls ran as a pack and pushed each other to some HPRs of their own. Allison Edwards finished 27:29, followed by the Johnson sisters, Kalyn and Kendyl, and Hannah Poppe, finishing 27:48.1, 27:48.5 and 27:48.7, respectively. Pack running is fun to watch and the benefit to the runners is that they run as a phalanx, which naturally propels them to stay with each other. 

One of their team goals this year has been to best Bloomer at least once. All season long, they have been finishing behind them at the various invitationals we have met them at—Spooner, Bloomer, the C-W meet, Barron and Ladysmith. At each race, the point gap has narrowed, but at Hayward, they just showed they had more mettle and beat them handily. It could have been they had a different strategy that day or were missing a few of their Hawks, but all the same, our girls finished fifth to Bloomer’s ninth. The next day at practice, gold goal pins were handed all around for their collective efforts. 

 

boys’ scores

1. Northwestern.................59    

2. Bloomer...........................72    

3. Cameron.........................88

4. Hayward........................114    

5. Barron............................135    

6. Ashland.........................155    

7. Drummond...................177    

8. Washburn.....................183    

9. Bruce..............................195    

10. Shell Lake...................264

11. Cumberland...............304    

12. Spooner.......................306    

C-W.............incomplete team    

 

 

girls’ scores

1. Hayward..........................46    

2. Cameron.........................80     

3. Northwestern.................91     

4. Ashland.........................110    

5. C-W................................140

6. Barron...........................160    

7. Shell Lake......................161    

8. Cumberland................232    

9. Bloomer.........................233    

10. Spooner.......................242

11. Drummond................267    

 

On Saturday, Oct. 6, we competed in the 68th running of the classic Swain Invitational in Duluth, Minn. Held on the grounds of Enger Golf Course, it draws lots of Minnesota schools, and a few Wisconsin ones as well. Given that we’re so close to the conference meet, I instructed our crew to run the race as a workout. Both teams—guys and girls—ran as a pack in their respective races. 

In the girls’ race, even Blumer demonstrated race discipline and ran with teammate Natalie Poppe the entire way. Blumer finished 23:42 to Poppe’s 23:57. The rest of our girls paced each other, finishing in the following order: Kendyl Johnson (27:10), Edwards (27:18), Kalyn Johnson (27:18) and Poppe (27:18). For the Johnson sisters, those times represent personal course records for Swain. These girls also ran in stylish shades, earning them lots of props that day from spectators and coaches alike.

The boys employed the same strategy running as a phalanx the entire way. Once again, we ran an incomplete team on account of work and family commitments. Taking a page from their female teammates, they, too, wore the same shades in their race. They ran at such a pace that Brody Killoren PR’d that afternoon (just as he had PR’d last year at Swain), coming in right on the heels of Joseph Jensen (23:35), Skyler Miles (23:36) and Jordan Rihn (23:36) in a record time of 23:38. And he looked cool while doing it.

The Heart O’North Conference meet was held in Ladysmith on Tuesday, Oct. 9. Contrary to ball sports, it’s winner takes all in this race. It’s promising to be wet and fairly miserable. Here’s hoping that our ‘Dogs show the same grit they showed at Hayward and finish strong. C-W will then be idle until the sectional race in Boyceville on Saturday, Oct. 20.

 

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