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Girls Cross Country: First-year Warrior runner cruises to victory

Run For Your Melon Highlight: Brainerd's Emily Rugloski competed in and won her first cross country meet and helped the Warriors to the team title Brainerd cross country coach Dave Herath needs to thank Warrior girls track and field head coach Ho...

Brainerd’s Emily Rugloski (right), who placed first for cross country girls, runs with teammates Ali Crochet (center) and Molly Selisker Friday during the Run For Your Melon race at Forestview Middle School in Baxter. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch - gallery)
Brainerd’s Emily Rugloski (right), who placed first for cross country girls, runs with teammates Ali Crochet (center) and Molly Selisker Friday during the Run For Your Melon race at Forestview Middle School in Baxter. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch - gallery)

Run For Your Melon

Highlight: Brainerd's Emily Rugloski competed in and won her first cross country meet and helped the Warriors to the team title

Brainerd cross country coach Dave Herath needs to thank Warrior girls track and field head coach Howie Jacobs.

Jacobs' neighbor in Baxter is junior Emily Rugloski, whom he's seen running around his neighborhood for years. He always thought Rugloski looked like an athlete who could be a decent cross country runner. But Rugloski played soccer last year.

"I do miss soccer," she said Friday after winning Brainerd's Run For Your Melon invite at Forestview Middle School, her first career cross country meet. "But my neighbor is Howie Jacobs and he kind of encouraged me to join. He's seen me running in the summer sometimes just for recreation."

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Rugloski's winning time of 20:15.63 was about eight seconds faster than runner-up Ellyssa Peterson of Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin, who finished at 20:27.86. Peterson led for much of the race before Rugloski surged in front.

"I saw her in the distance," Rugloski said. "That gave me more motivation to go and pass her. I guess I started passing her in the longest stretch home. She really started strong."

Herath thought Rugloski had a great first race.

"She's a kid who loves to run," he said. "We're happy she found us, and that we found her. Before the race as a group we talked about nobody but your grandmother cares who wins the first mile. She took that to heart and went out maybe a little too conservatively. We had no idea how fast she could go. She kept cruising, closing the gap. I'm sure she was over 20 seconds behind the leader at the mile mark.

"She had a nice last 800 or so. That tells me there's probably more in the tank, which is a good thing. ... She did just fantastic."

Rugloski's victory pushed the Warriors to the team title with 34 points, 20 fewer than runner-up Alexandria. Brainerd's Liliana Schaeffer was sixth, Molly Selisker seventh, Grace Erholtz eighth and Ali Crochet 12th.

"The girls did a great job," Herath said. "They've looked so good in practice. I expect them to do well, but I don't know if I expected them to do quite that well. We held Meritt Miller out. She's been nursing ... sore legs. For the girls to step up without her, they just did great.

"The first meet is so weird because all the coaches are busy doing other things. (Runners) are kind of on their own to figure things out. We've got smart girls.

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"I can't credit Ali Crochet enough. (Thursday) we were setting the course up. Ali took those girls so they knew the course, they knew what to do. She was giving the new girls a lot of pointers. I'm sure our other leaders were as well, but Ali really stepped up into that role and had a nice race today."

Top area finishers included Crosby-Ironton's Arianna Lemieur in 15th place, Pequot Lakes' Sunshine Langworthy 20th, Little Falls' Abby Borash 36th and Pillager's Vanessa Peterson 47th.

Following her first victory, Rugloski was eagerly anticipating the opportunity to consume some melon from the Herath family garden.

"I'm really excited. I'm pumped up still," she said. "I'm kind of tired. I'm kind of craving watermelon. It was really fun, more than I imagined."

Team scores (5,000 meters): 1-Brainerd 34, 2-Alexandria 54, 3-Albany 77, 4-Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin 83, 5-Pine City 100, 6-Little Falls 180

Individual winner: Emily Rugloski (Brd) 20:15.63

Brainerd results: 6-Lily Schaeffer 21:14.18, 7-Molly Selisker 21:24.63, 8-Grace Erholtz 21:28.43, 12-Ali Crochet 22:16.68, 26-Carson Biegen 23:18.79, 27-Ellie Selisker 23:48.72

Crosby-Ironton results: 15-Arianna Lemieur 22:33.13, 32-Ella Dwyer 24:07.88, 46-Miranda Berg 26:37.16, 48-Anna Bostrom 28:43.63

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Little Falls results: 36-Abby Borash 24:33.61, 37-Megan Borash 24:43.97, 38-Madison Marquette 25:09.29, 41-Kali Schirmers 25:45.81, 43-Molly Lange 26:02.19, 44-Ellie Anez 26:34.94, 45-Nica Gammon-Deering 26:36.93

Pequot Lakes results: 20-Sunshine Langworthy 22:48.66,

Pillager results: 47-Vanessa Peterson 28:43.04, 49-Emily Kautz 32:01.81, 50-Emily Peters 33:04.60, 51-Lacie Hines 34:00.81

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