Minnetonka Boys Cross Country: Young Athletes Rising to the Occasion

Photos Courtesy of Minnetonka Boys Cross Country

Photos Courtesy of Minnetonka Boys Cross Country

Scott Sorenson, Staff Writer

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Cross country running can be a brutal sport. When asked what it was like, one runner replied, “I’m too busy panting to think about it.” Demanding workouts, rampant injuries, and chaotic races make it a very challenging sport. Despite all of this, Minnetonka excels at it.

The Varsity team started out the season with a win at the Nike Heartland Preview race in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where they emerged on top against teams from all around the midwest. The Junior Varsity team came in second at that same meet.

In most races, competitors ran five kilometers. On average, Varsity runners ran a five minute and twenty-six second mile. In other races, MHS placed second at Lakeville Applejack in September. In the Hoka Time Trials, they placed fifth nationally out of 144 teams.

The older athletes repeat the chant, “Shock the Section” at races. Minnetonka is in one of the most competitive sections in all of Minnesota, and the team believes that they have a shot at the state title.

Coach “Renny” Renlund calls the team his “army of fifty.”  He says that they “are willing to do it, and [they] just get stronger in this sport.” Coach Renlund always compares running to board games, telling them to play chess and not checkers. Renlund tells them again and again that running is 90 percent mental and only ten percent physical. He says, “It’s not that the pain goes away, just that you find better ways to deal with it.”

Behind all of this stands a very young team. The Varsity team has been tearing up at meets around the state, and only two of them are seniors. There are several sophomores on Varsity too, such as Fausto Chongmemije and Nate Kusar, who are key runners on the team. The top runner is Max Lauremen, a junior.

Even the freshman team is placing seventh in Minnesota and 67th in the country. These successes make the team excited not just for this year, but for years to come.

“The strongest two groups are the ninth graders and the eleventh graders,” Coach Renlund commented, “That’s [the] biggest group and they’re all gonna be back next year.”

 

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