Carter Grove has picked up right where he left off a year ago.
The Osakis senior became the first-ever boys runner for the Silverstreaks to make a cross country state meet as a junior after Lauren Savageau made it for the girls in 2014 and 2015. Now this fall, Grove has ran near the front of almost every meet that features teams made up of his own class level.
On Saturday, he got a chance to see how he stacks up against an even deeper field of competition at the Lions Meet of Champions in Alexandria.
“I feel it went pretty well. It was a lot of fun,” Grove said. “It wasn’t really nice (conditions) for the people to watch, but it felt great to run in. I just kind of like it when it’s cold.”
Grove got his wish with that weather on Saturday as runners embraced the cool temperatures and rain through much of the event. The varsity boys had to run through a lot of mud on the trails by the time they wrapped up the seventh race of the day.
Osakis as a team finished 20th, and Grove easily finished in the top third of all runners that featured 139 athletes. He was 30th with a time of 17:08.5.
The boys race featured four teams ranked in the top 10 of Class AA in second-ranked Mounds View, third-ranked White Bear Lake, fifth-ranked St. Paul Highland Park and eighth-ranked Stillwater. The winning time was 15:56.5, run by Oliver Paleen of St. Paul Highland Park.
“It really helps push you more because there’s more guys going fast,” Grove said of running against that kind of field. “You can just get pulled along.”
First-year Osakis head coach Alison Triebenbach has seen Grove grow into the role of fitting in with the top runners at each meet.
“Just like what happens with most of the guys, Carter has grown a lot in the last year physically,” Triebenbach said. “He’s gotten much stronger, and he’s also gotten a lot more confident. He’s just mentally prepared for everything he needs to do, and he’s helping his teammates, which I think is important. When you start helping your teammates, you help yourself and everyone goes up.”
Grove’s current personal-record time is around 16:57, and he wants to keep lowering that and make it to another state meet if he can.
“I also want to keep setting an example for all the underclassmen and just be a role model for them,” he said.
The Silverstreaks’ second fastest time on Saturday came from junior Logan Grove. He came across in 19:56.1, while junior Brently Boogaard (20:14.4), freshman Marcus Wolf (20:28.1), sophomore Thomas Van Acker (21:07.9), senior Joey Van Acker (21:23.6) and freshman Issac Loverink (21:35.3) rounded out the varsity lineup.
For all the guys, it was a chance to see a good field as Osakis continues to grow its program.
“We started doing that last year because we really wanted our team to see what’s out there and be able to stick with them,” Triebenbach said. “What it does is now they’ll look at it and be like, ‘Well, we stuck with these guys who were a lot faster than we’re supposed to be.’ Now when we go to meets without that caliber of competition, they’ll just be that much further ahead.”
The Osakis girls did not run a team on varsity with the Silverstreaks continuing to battle injury and illness with an already small roster of just six girls on varsity.
“The ones that are healthy are progressing greatly,” Triebenbach said of her girls. “Having a guys team that’s also doing well helps them too. We practice together, so they get that energy off each other. The others that are healthy are doing really well. They’re improving. It’s just a matter of getting the rest of them healthy for conference and sections.”
Osakis has one more invite at Royalton on Oct. 8 before the Central Minnesota Conference meet on Oct. 15. The Silverstreaks then run at the Section 6A meet on Oct. 24.
LIONS MEET OF CHAMPIONS
BOYS VARSITY TEAM SCORES - Mounds View - 79; White Bear Lake - 93; Stillwater - 95; St. Paul Highland Park - 107; Willmar - 148; Chanhassen - 178; Buffalo - 184; St. Cloud Apollo - 218; Sioux Falls Washington - 220; Alexandria - 258; Roseville - 330; Chaska - 355; Marshall - 357; Red Wing - 380; St. Thomas Academy - 389; Becker - 458; Brookings - 487; Benilde-St. Margaret - 495; Windom - 496; Osakis - 540
TOP-FIVE INDIVIDUALS - Oliver Paleen, St. Paul Highland Park - 15:56.5; Nicholas Scheller, Chanhassen - 16:00.7; Nick Oak, Buffalo - 16:09.5; Calvin Boone, St. Paul Highland Park - 16:12.7; Maxwell Nelson, White Bear Lake - 16:15.2