ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Area Female Athlete: Pequot's Garai hungry to learn

Gina Garai Year: Junior School: Pequot Lakes Sport: Cross country Highlights: Won back-to-back races Gina Garai is a quick learner. The foreign exchange student from Hungary struggled to understand her coach and the concept of cross country running.

Gina Garai
Gina Garai

Gina Garai

Year: Junior

School: Pequot Lakes

Sport: Cross country

Highlights: Won back-to-back races

ADVERTISEMENT

Gina Garai is a quick learner.

The foreign exchange student from Hungary struggled to understand her coach and the concept of cross country running. Now she's one of the area's top runners.

Garai captured her first individual title at the Pillager Invite Sept. 18 at Madden's Pine Beach West Course. The junior recorded a 16:48.7 to help the Pequot Lakes girls team to first place.

"I didn't even meet her until after this summer and it didn't start out well," said Pequot head coach Jon Dale. "She was a good runner, but I don't think she understood what she was supposed to do like she does now. She's never ran cross country before. It was new to her. She didn't know how fast she could be. She's figuring it out now. She's training with Jackie (Brine-Doyle) and Caitie (Ryan). She's running with our top runners in practice and picking things up.

"She's very determined and she's a really good athlete. She's also a really smart kid. She's very unique."

Garai has picked up things in terms of competitive running. She paced the Deer River Invite Sept. 23 in Menahga with a time of 15:32. That helped Pequot to another first place.

"It was good," said Garai. "I was happy."

During Pequot's home event Sept. 4, the Hungarian placed second with a 17:06 to lead Pequot to first place. Crosby-Ironton's Margaret Stokman won that event in 16:38. On Thursday, the two faced off again with Stokman winning in 16:34 and Garai placing third in 16:46.

ADVERTISEMENT

"It was hard at first because whenever I talked to her she would always look toward Macy Dotty because that's who she is living with," said Dale. "She can speak the language, but she's not real fluent. She's getting better, but at first it was hard to speak to her. It wasn't like we just clicked.

"She understands everything I tell her now. She's a quick learner. She's taking all the tough classes in school so she had a lot to adapt to right away."
One of those things was learning how to race. Garai said there was no cross country in Hungary, but she did try a triathlon before. Dale said he had to figure out the best strategy for his varsity rookie. It appears the two have it figured out.

"Just in the last two or three weeks we've had her go out with the front pack," said Dale. "There are usually three packs in a race and it's hard for that middle pack to catch up to the front pack. They just run out of time usually. So we've talked and we've found that Gina does a lot better when she's running with the front pack."

Dale wasn't sure if Garai's time of 15:32 was a school record or not. He said it might be close, but the Deer River course is a flatter track. Still he's happy with her decrease in time.

"I got third (Thursday)," Garai said. "I ran as fast as I could It was hard because it was raining and wet. It was different."

Said Dale: "(Thursday) she was only 10 seconds off of first place. I think she was nervous about the conditions. It was muddy and the corners were slippery. She didn't have spikes. In fact, I don't know if she's ever run in spikes. That's another learning process for us. But she's been a pleasant surprise. I've had a lot of foreign exchange students over the years and it's about time I get a ringer."

Other notable performances:

Tennis: Lauren Bengtson, Pequot Lakes, captured her 100th career win with a No. 1 doubles victory against Wadena-Deer Creek.

ADVERTISEMENT

Claire Browning, Aitkin, finished 3-0 to win the Granite Ridge Conference singles title.

Marissa Kinzer-Lisa Anderson, Aitkin, finished 3-0 to win the Granite Ridge Conference doubles title.

Volleyball: Ellie Michaletz, Aitkin, finished with 19 kills and nine digs against Braham and 10 kills and five ace servers against Isle.

Grace Wikstrom, Lake Region, finished with 13 ace serves and 12 digs against Foreston and 33 digs and six kills against Rosemount.

Megan Felthous, Pine River-Backus, finished with 25 kills, 13 set assists and seven blocks against Park Rapids.

Lacy Hiltner, Pillager, finished with 19 digs, 14 kills and two ace serves against Menahga.

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or jeremy.millsop@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop .

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
What To Read Next
Former Brainerd Warrior Olivia King is enjoying her senior season as a member of the University of Minnesota Gopher women's hockey team.
The Central Lakes College Raiders traveled to Ely to face Vermilion.
The Central Lakes College Raiders landed six student-athletes on Elite Team
Quigley enjoyed a big week for CLC.