The Brandon-Evansville cross country program was in its first year of existence, so the Section 6, Class A meet in Long Prairie on Thursday was a chance for runners to get their feet wet in a highly competitive atmosphere.
"Though it was cold, windy, and not ideal for running, we had a good last night of cross country," head coach Robert Bosma said. "I told my athletes that running in this weather is much more mental than physical and as soon as they warmed up and were ready to run, they would be able to do well. Since we are still learning how to compete and be a team, it was interesting to see how they responded to the weather."
The Chargers didn't field enough runners to compete as a team in the girls race with just four runners going, but sophomore Caitlyn Deschene led them individually in 113th place. She finished in 25:10.6. Freshman Kaylee Bitzan was 135th (28:11.3) and juniors Christina Kuismi (138th, 28:18.8) and Kerryn Lund (139th, 30:07.8) rounded out the B-E lineup.
The Brandon-Evansville boys did field a whole team as they came in 21st.
Eighth grader Wesley Siira paced the group in 98th place (20:07.8). Senior Alek Pikkaraine was 131st in 22:17.1, freshman Nolan Bitzan was 143rd (23:36.4), seventh grader Logan Froemming was 148th (24:08.7), Blake Merritt, a sophomore, was 152nd (26:38.2), junior Eli Anderson was 153rd (27:08.3) and freshman Anakin Bosek rounded out the lineup in 154th place with a time of 27:22.6.
"They packed up and ran with each other, or runners from other teams," Bosma said of his athletes. "It was great to see them breaking the wind for each other and then rotate who would do it for a while. Eli, Anakin and Blake ran together most of the race and they took turns being the guy in front. I was proud of how they ran."
With it being the Chargers' inaugural season, Bosma didn't set expectations of having runners go to the state meet. Instead, he wanted them to learn how to race competitively. Brandon-Evansville ran at Long Prairie earlier in the year and most of the runners dropped time on the course at the section meet.
"I have been impressed many times over by the attitude, hard work and dedication by my team," Bosma said. "They embraced the responsibility of what it means to be the first ones in this sport for our school. They were a wonderful team and many of them are already talking about next year when I hope we can start to get more competitive and start to bring home some more medals and ribbons at some meets."