BAXTER — It doesn’t have the tradition of the Run for the Melon, but the Warrior dual Tuesday, Sept. 15, maybe more important.
In a rare second home event for the Brainerd Warriors, both the boys and girls teams collected victories over St. Cloud Tech and the boys did it in grand fashion with a 15-point sweep of the top five spots.
The victories come after facing some of Central Lakes Conference’s and possibly the state’s top competition in Moorhead, Bemidji and Alexandria.
“We’ve taken our lumps, but I think we’ve learned quite a bit,” Warriors head coach Dave Herath said. “You get to a meet sometimes and you look around and realize you’re the front runners. It will be interesting to see what we do next week at Rocori and if this will carry through. I think it will.
“This isn’t a team that lacks confidence, but after a couple of meets of going up against the top dogs you kind of wonder a little bit.”
Thomas Ruhl, who missed the Run for the Melon, was determined to put on a good show for the home crowd. He didn’t disappoint with a winning time of 18:01.
“I was happy I was able to run this because I’ve been dealing with some (health) problems,” Ruhl said. “Last week was my first meet and I did not pace myself at all. I went out sub 11 for my first 2 miles, which would have put me at 16:40 pace and I finished my last mile in eight minutes.
“This race, I wanted to put myself behind the leaders for the first mile. That’s what I did. I positioned myself behind the Tech guy and then about the 1 1/2 mile I got in front of him and coasted from there.”
Ruhl said the course layout was significantly different from the Run for the Melon layout, which has remained close to the same since the event found a home at Forestview Middle School after being held at the Northland Arboretum in Brainerd.
“Except for the lap around the soccer field it’s all in the trails,” Ruhl said. “That grass is a lot harder, which is a lot better energy return so you just kind of flow through the entire track. That was really nice.”
Ruhl’s teammates were not to be outdone as Ethan Klish finished second in 18:15 followed by Gus Duininck in third, Adam Cady in fourth, Ryan Cady in fifth for Brainerd’s perfect score of 15.
For good measure, Braden Capelle placed sixth for Brainerd in 18:28. After St. Cloud Tech’s top runner finished seventh, Brainerd then rattled off the next four sports with Baden Bastian placing eighth, Steve Selisker ninth, Jackson Dwyer 10th and Bennet Capelle 11th.
With Ruehl leading the pack, a different Warrior boy has led Brainerd in all three of their invites.
“Thomas put in a lot of miles this summer and was really looking good at the beginning of the season and then injuries were kind of hindering him a little bit,” Herath said. “To have him back and running full strength, you noticed it was Thomas and then the rest of our boys and they key off of each other and so if someone is willing to go out and be that front runner everyone falls along with them.”
Bridget Collins has led the Warrior girls in all three of their meets. Tuesday, she collected a second-place time of 22:12. Tech’s Stella Rusch won the invite in 21:19.
After Collins, Liliana Schaeffer finished fourth in 22:40. Emma Storbakken was fifth followed by Madelyn Miller in sixth, Brooke Wenz in seventh and Katelyn Kennedy in eighth.
“We saw this at Bemidji last week where the first girl comes in and then the rest come following boom, boom, boom,” Herath said. “That’s when you start having a nice team score so five girls within a minute is very nice. It was nice to see Bridget run without too much pain. She’s got some calf stuff going on.
“I really liked that Lily and Emma, kind of our two team leaders, really stepped it up and had some really good races.”
Schaeffer, who returned to cross-country after a two-year absence, said she enjoyed the new course layout.
“We were very prepared for this course,” Schaeffer said. “He told us all the different stuff that was going to be the same and slightly different. They marked it really. Casey Miller put up giant mile markers and caution tape everywhere.
“Our coaches had us run it twice to get our lines down and figure out what routes we were going to take so we could cut off some distance. It was really good.”
Schaeffer finished ninth at Bemidji and was 13th at the Run for the Melon.
She said she’s regaining her confidence with each event.
“Going into this year, I knew I knew I was going to be slower from two years ago,” she said. “I’m more muscular and have more of a skier's build and skiers are normally slower runners. My expectations weren’t very high. I’m back to it. It’s still pretty new and it’s just kind of getting back into the groove of things and seeing where I go.”
Herath said he wasn’t worried about the times because of the new course, but liked how his athletes attacked it.
“It’s a tough course because you don’t have the fans because you’re gone and then it’s all hills in the trails,” Herath said. “The times don’t reflect super fast times, but the girls were tight together in there and for a meet like this, that’s great.”
Team scores: 1-Brainerd 15, St. Cloud Tech 49
Individual winner: Thomas Ruhl (Brainerd) 18:01
Brainerd results: 2-Ethan Klisch 18:15, 3-Gus Duininck 18:17, 4-Adam Cady 18;21, 5-Ryan Cady 18;24, 6-Braden Capelle 18;28, 8-Baden Bastian 18:53, 9-Steve Selisker 19:21, 10-Jackson Dwyer 19:26, 11-Bennet Capelle 19:37, 14-Joe Figliuzzi 19:47, 15-Atticus Osborne 19:48, 18-Gabe Mauerer 20:12, 20-Zach Schaeffer 20:41, 21-Gabe Qualley 20:49, 23-Ben Stadum 21:12, 24-Aden Extrand 21:20, 26-Ben Boberg 21:48, 27-Mason Kuepers 21:50, 28-Noah Schaeffer 22:00, 31-Leif Hoffman 22:22, 33-Eli Knapp 22:56, 34-Garrett Kranz 23:01, 35-Ben Karlgaard 23:09, 36-James Rubasco 23:17, 38-Nate Chaussee 23:34, 39-Sam McCully 23:40, 41-Kyler Carlson 24:37, 45-Gabe Halgren 26:00, 47-Reed Boeckermann 26:24, 48-Ben Beasley 26:49, 52-Ben Guida 28:48
Team scores: 1-Brainerd 24, 2-St. Cloud Tech 36
Individual winner: Stella Rusch (SCT) 21:19.00
Brainerd results: 2-Bridget Collins 22:12, 4-Liliana Schaeffer 22:40, 5-Emma Storbakken 23:03, 6-Madelyn Miller 23:06, 7-Brooke Wenz 23:10, 8-Katelyn Kennedy 23:44, 10-Peyton Lillo 23:53, 12-Avery Duerr 24:51, 14-Sara Schiller 25:15, 16-Annie Geary 25:50, 17-Julia Rademacher 26:16, 18-Erin Hoelzel 26:46, 21-Abby Dahl 27:41, 23-Hannah Phillips 28:54, 24-Abby Johnson 29:08, 26-Anja Storbakken 29:51, 27-Abby Cherne 31:03, 28-Emily Bastian 31:04
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.
Warriors win 2
Boys’ highlight: Brainerd collected the top six spots
Girls’ highlight: Brainerd girls landed seven in the top 10
Next: Brainerd in Rocori Invite at River Oaks Golf Course, Cold Spring 4 p.m. Thursday, Set. 24.