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Warriors Athlete of Week: Warriors’ Wenz tops off successful year at state

Brainerd's Brooke Wenz helped the Warriors to eighth place in the Class 3A State Meet.

Cross-country runner races to the finish line.
Brainerd's Brooke Wenz races to the finish line Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, during the Class 3A State Meet at St. Olaf College in Northfield.
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BRAINERD -- On a good day, Brooke Wenz says she stands 5-foot-3.

Her coach doesn’t believe it, but what he does believe is that the Brainerd Warrior sophomore has a knack for being in the right place at the right time when it comes to cross-country running.

Wenz was Brainerd’s No. 3 scorer Saturday, Nov. 5, during the Class 3A State Meet at St. Olaf College in Northfield. In her first-ever state appearance, she ran a 19:5.1 to place 55th and help the Warriors to eighth place as a team, which was one spot better than the team was ranked.

“I definitely wanted to break 19 minutes, but that didn’t happen,” Wenz said. “I know I did the best I could in those circumstances. The first mile felt really good. I went out kind of slow or slower than I have been most of the season, but it felt really good. I just wasn’t as fast as I’m used to.”

Wenz ran a 6:10.3 first mile which is where Warrior head coach Dave Herath hoped she would be.

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I know I can do it. I just, ugh. I think it’s my brain that’s preventing me.
Brooke Wenz

“We were thinking anywhere between 6:05 to 6:15 so she was right in the middle of that,” Herath said. “They all had a little different strategy, but that was right in her wheelhouse on where she should be.”

After two miles, Wenz was sitting at 12:34.2.

“As a team, especially in the second mile, we were planning to move up because there is a loop at the course where no spectators are allowed. It’s just runners back there. We were really hoping to pick up some places and pass a lot of people in that loop and just maintain our pace.

“I think the final mile was probably my best mile. I knew I was almost done and I just wanted to get through it. Pass as many girls as I could.”

Wenz watched fellow teammate Madi Miller run in last year’s state meet. She walked the course with Miller so she had an idea of what to expect this year. It was a bittersweet experience because Wenz missed going to state with her teammate by just two seconds. She used it as motivation to make sure she advanced this year.

“That really motivated me this summer to run,” Wenz said. “I didn’t really train in past years over the summer. This summer I ran 30 to 35 miles a week and I plan on doing that again this summer to try and make it to state again next year.”

Wenz helped Brainerd advance to the state meet thanks to her fifth-place time of 19:22.9 at the Section 8-3A meet which the Warriors won.

She earned All-Central Lakes Conference honors and helped Brainerd win the conference title with her seventh-place 19:15.1. That time is the fourth fastest time for a 5K in program history.

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“She’s kind of the steady eddy of the team,” Herath said. “Even back to eighth grade, the bigger the meet the more she showed up. That was the case even this year at sections and at state being our third runner.”

She helped Brainerd win the St. Cloud Tech Invite with her 10th-place time of 20:21.69.

During Brainerd’s first-place finish at the Roy Griak Invitational Sept. 23, Wenz ran a 16th-place 20:23.9.

Wenz scored a sixth-place time of 20:16.7 at the Rey Zimney Pierz Stampede and opened the season with a 16th-place time of 21:48.1 in Brainerd’s Run for the Melon.

“Brooke is a really intelligent young lady,” Herath said. “We give the kids a lot of information about who they’re running against and the courses they’re running on and just strategy. Brooke takes all of that information in, internalizes it and then goes out and executes the plan very successfully.

“You know Brooke is about 5-foot-1 and I wouldn’t say she’s got a killer kick or anything. She just never gives up. She is continually putting herself in the right place at the right time. It’s not that she ends her race slowly, but as fast as she is, she doesn’t have the world’s greatest kick, but by that second mile she’s always in that right spot to close well. It’s a knack that she has.”

She called the state experience fun, but even more special because Brainerd advanced as a team. She said each win during the season gave the group more confidence for the next event.

About the only thing that didn’t go Wenz’s way was her time goal. She really wanted to break 19 minutes.

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“I think I can definitely do it,” Wenz said. “This coming weekend we’re going to the Nike (Heartland Regional in Sioux Falls, S.D.). We got accepted into the championship race and I’m hoping one more shot. I know I can do it. I just, ugh. I think it’s my brain that’s preventing me.”

If she doesn’t do it Sunday in South Dakota, the odds will be in her favor to do it next year. Herath is already excited to see what she does.

“They have the ability and they work hard it’s just in the offseason, how much work are you willing to put in,” Herath said. “She’s not a one-dimensional kid. She’s a very good student and is in a lot of different things, but I think she’s very committed to her running and the girls that are returning are going to be very dangerous next year and Brooke will be one of those leaders.”

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

Brooke Wenz

Brooke Wenz
Brooke Wenz

Sport: Cross-country

Year: Sophomore

Age: 15

Height: 5-foot-3

Career highlight: Helping the Warriors win the Roy Griak Maroon Division this year.

Other sports: Nordic skiing and track and field

Grade-point average: 4.1

Favorite class: Spanish

Favorite food: Mashed potatoes

Favorite movie: “Moana”

Favorite musician: Taylor Swift

Favorite restaurant: El Tequila Mexican Restaurant

Future plans: Attend a four-year college and hopefully run

Parents: Matt and Trista Wenz

Other notable performances

Hannah Drietz, girls’ cross-country, finished 17th in the Class 3A State meet in 18:34.5.

Katelyn Kennedy, girls’ cross-country, finished 45th in the Class 3A State meet in 19:25.6.

Madi Miller, girls’ cross-country, finished 73rd in the Class 3A State meet in 19:51.1.

Julia Rademacher, girls’ cross-country, finished 108th in the Class 3A State meet 20:25.7.

Annelise Baird, girls’ cross-country, finished 125th in the Class 3A State meet in 20:41.3.

Bridget Collins, girls’ cross-country, finished 133rd in the Class 3A State meet in 20:49.0.

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