Cross country: Silverstreaks host first meet since return of the program
Five years ago, the Osakis cross country program came back after an absence of over two decades. Last Thursday afternoon at Lake Brophy Country Park in Alexandria, the Silverstreaks finally called themselves the host team.
“I think it’s extra special for these kids this year because we are thankful to have a season,” head coach Justin Dahlheimer said. “Having to be creative allowed us to think about this course. It’s a place that we train a lot, and we consider it our home territory. This course captures the character of our team.”
Mason Grove is a freshman on the boys squad but has been running since seventh grade. Despite it being a tough course, getting a chance to compete in a home meet was something he was looking forward to.
“It was fun,” Grove said. “We already knew the course, so that was really nice. I like the layout here with all of the hills. I feel like the hills keep us more together because we are constantly cheering each other on when there are hard spots. This is probably going to be the worst we will run all season because the hills are so hard.”
Four teams competed on Thursday in an untraditional format. With the COVID-19 regulations limiting the number of concurrent runners, only two teams ran at one time. Osakis raced with Eden Valley-Watkins-Kimball before Holdingford and St. John’s Prep ran separately. It wasn’t how they pictured their first home meet, but the senior Silverstreaks were excited nonetheless.
“When we said we were going to Brophy for a home meet, there were some twinkles in some eyes,” Dahlheimer said. “They did know it was going to be a challenge, but I could sense the excitement to show off a place where we spent a lot of time. I’m happy, and I hope that this meet is the legacy this group leaves because we’d like to be back here in the future.”
Grove finished in first place for the boys with a time of 21:11.4. He edged out EV-W-K’s Broden Thielen by 22 seconds in his first meet of the season.
“It was a surprise to see him out in front,” Dahlheimer said. “To run the type of race he did isn’t shocking because we know he can perform well, but we were surprised to see him that aggressive in his first meet on a really challenging course.”
While in the middle of the race, he started to let his lead slip to Thielen. That’s when coach Chris Grove gave him a boost.
“My dad told me he was about 20 yards behind me when I was at the top of the hill,” Mason Grove said. “That let me know what I had to do to beat him. All of the coaches are so personal with us. It’s not even my dad all the time. All of them are honest with us, and they’re not afraid to give us criticism.”
After Thielen crossed the finish line, six Silverstreaks followed. Brennen Gustafson (22:05.6) and Zach Fiskness (22:05.2) finished neck-and-neck in third and fourth place. Logan Grove (22:35.8) took fifth while Marcus Wolf (22:46.1), Brently Boogaard (23:52.0) and Kale Drevlow (24:11.0) trailed right behind.
“That group is mostly ninth-graders,” Dahlheimer said. “There's a sophomore and a senior toward the end there, but it’s a young group. That’s the way they train together. They’re used to running together. ”
The Osakis girls don’t have the numbers to compete as a full team, but that didn’t stop them from putting up encouraging times. Destiny Dorman ran the seventh fastest race with a time of 28:19.9.
“She’s been in the program since she was an eighth-grader,” Dahlheimer said. “She’s very aggressive and isn’t afraid to face the pain of pushing through a really tough course. We had a great team we were competing against today, so it was great to see her come out hard and carry that momentum. She’s our leader out there.”
Madison Nystrom took 12th (31:04.6) with Anna Wolf not too far behind in 13th (31:11.04). Julianna Collins came in 15th with a time of 33:18.8 as the final Osakis runner.
“We’ve got four senior girls, and that’s why it feels so tight-knit,” Dahlheimer said. “They’re very close, and they’ve been running together on this team for many years. I think their mindset is where they want to take advantage of their senior season and make it an experience that they’ll remember.”