Male Area Athlete of Week: Brunsberg gets unexpected win at Bertha
Bjorn Brunsberg did not expect to be winning cross-country meets this season.
However, the Wadena-Deer Creek sophomore surprised himself last week by winning at the Bertha-Hewitt meet with a time of 18:06.
“I wasn’t really thinking of winning,” Bjorn Brunsberg said. “For me, my preparation wasn’t anything special. I just did the ordinary warmups. It was just a normal meet.”
The head cross-country coach at Wadena-Deer Creek is his dad Mike Brunsberg, which Bjorn Brunsberg says has given him insights on how to improve as a runner.
“I get to know a lot of things right off the bat when I get home,” Bjorn Brunsberg said. “It’s good on a personal level, because I can communicate with him well.”
Mike Brunsberg said he has a healthy relationship with his son.
“Family time is important to me,” Mike Brunsberg said. “We don’t mind spending the time together. My daughter is also on the team, but you kind of get caught up in the big picture.”
Mike Brunsberg said when Bjorn Brunsberg finished the first loop of the Bertha-Hewitt course he was in third place.
“He was behind some people who were expected to beat him,” Mike Brunsberg said. “I could see a kind of look on his face when he passed by that he was determined not to sit in third. He seemed to have a mindset that he was going for more and he certainly did.”
By the second loop, Bjorn Brunsberg was in second place and was making a run for first.
“It became a possibility at that point,” Mike Brunsberg said. “But you never know who has what in the tank at that point. So it was kind of exciting to see him pass into first and then on the last turn put on the throttle. He set his career PR (personal record) by about 40 seconds.”
Bjorn Brunsberg remembers as an eighth-grader standing at the starting line at Milaca in the largest cross-country meet in the state thinking to himself “this is why I run cross-country.”
“Being on the starting line and seeing thousands of other runners and I just took it all in,” Bjorn Brunsberg said. “It was a great experience.”
Mike Brunsberg really likes to see Bjorn embrace the stage like he did in his win last week.
“For him to embrace it and be inspired that’s what’s most pleasing to me,” Mike Brunsberg said. “It’s become his love of running that has become internalized and he is not just going through the motions.”
Having a limited number of teams at cross-country meets this season due to COVID-19 restrictions aided Bjorn Brunsberg getting his first win. Nevertheless, it showed him how much he has improved this year.
“I’ve never won a varsity meet before,” Bjorn Brunsberg said. “I didn’t have that as a goal for me this year. I didn’t even think it would be possible. So I felt pretty good at the race.”
Running in the spring and summer prepared Bjorn Brunsberg for his winning moment.
“You are not going to get very far if you don’t put in the work,” Bjorn Brunsberg said. “I guess doing the extra running does a lot for you and having a good mentality.”
Mike Brunsberg says Bjorn has grown up in an experienced Wadena-Deer Creek program and learned from runners like Bereket Loer and Lucas Hinojos last year.
“Last year, he was our No. 7 or No. 8 runner, but just being around quality practices and athletes who know how to do it that kind of rubs off,” Mike Brunsberg said. “This year he was kind of thrust into a position to be that guy, and I think he has seen it from his teammates of the past.”
Mike Brunsberg hopes Bjorn can continue to improve as they approach sections.
“They get to do crispier, quicker and less intense workouts,” Mike Brunsberg said. “The end is in sight and you have that common goal and you put it on the line. A lot of the achievements are felt in those personal bests.”
The relationships Bjorn Brunsberg has built is what he likes most about cross-country.
“Just being able to be with your friends and do things well with your friends,” Bjorn Brunsberg said. “And i really enjoy the running part of it. Bereket (Loer) and Lucas (Hinojos) were good role models for me to look up to last year because they were fast. I would look up to them and think maybe I could be one of them and run as fast as them one day.”
Other notable performances:
Cross-Country: Emmet Anderson, Staples-Motley, won at The Vintage at Staples in 17:19.86.
Soccer: Riley Perry, Little Falls, scored three goals in a 7-0 win over St. John’s Prep.
Haakon Bjorge, Little Falls, scored two goals in a 7-0 win over St. John’s Prep.
School: Wadena-Deer Creek
Highlights: Won at Bertha in 18:06