DULUTH — The Hibbing High School boys cross country team placed 18th out of 22 teams at the Swain Invitational Cross Country Meet held Saturday at Enger Park Golf Course.
Cloquet won the meet with 57 points, followed by Bloomington Jefferson with 67. Forest Lake had 129, Rochester Mayo 151, Princeton 173, Cambridge-Isanti 185, Duluth East 243, Spring Lake Park 259, Champlin Park 277, Austin 283, Duluth Denfeld 304, Superior 349, Totino-Grace 351, Tartan 369, Park 428, South St. Paul 433, Chisago Lakes 435, then the Bluejackets at 471.
Rounding out the field were Simley at 486, Minneapolis Roosevelt 545, Hermantown 574 and North Branch 585.
“We had highs and lows,” Hibbing coach James Plese said. “The boys, we have some work to do, things we need to figure out. Homecoming week affected the boys more. It threw off our focus. The girls set the tone, but we didn’t answer that.
“We need to, top to bottom, refocus for the next 2 ½ weeks. We have a fast course coming up in International Falls, where we might be able to hit some season goals, then we the conference meet, then sections. It’s time to refocus. It’s time to get down to business.”
Zach Rusich led Hibbing across the finish line with a 52nd place finish in 20:23. He was followed in by Jeremiah Wentland in 100th (21:69) Noah Anderson 107th (21:44), John Larrabee 109th (21:49), Ethan Roy 123rd (22:34), Ashton Balaski 124th (22:52) and Jacob Jensrud 133rd (23:19).
On the girls side, the Bluejackets placed fifth with 161 points.
Forest Lake was first with 33, followed by Bloomington Jefferson with 110, Visitation 133, Cloquet 149, then Hibbing.
Rounding out the field were Spring Lake Park 220, Cambridge-Isanti 233, Duluth East 240, Princeton 250, Chisago Lakes 272, Austin 297, Rochester Mayo 319, Hermantown 327, Park 361, St. Peter 383, Totino-Grace 409, Simley 441, Tartan 449, Grand Rapids 458, Superior 475 and North Branch 532.
“It was a good day for them, better than expected,” Plese said. “We were impressed by the way they came out. They were hesitant at the starting line because it wasn’t a nice day — low 40s, wet, rainy and a lot of water.
“The running joke was that it was reminiscent of Hibbing two years ago.
Plese and assistant coach Serena Sullivan had to do some quick thinking at the starting line to get the girls going.
“Coach Serena and I chatted to the girls and told them this is the way it’s going to be for everybody,” Plese said. “We also told them their team was getting a lot of compliments, that this girls’ group is turning some heads
“Maybe that was it. They went out there and ran well. From top to bottom, I hope it was a fun experience for them.”
The Bluejackets did get a look at Forest Lake and Cambridge-Isanti, to big Section 7AA schools. Plese knew his team couldn’t run with the Rangers, but they did beat the southern Bluejackets.
“Both of them are slotted ahead of us, but to beat Cambridge team that’s looking tough, we can go out there and mix it up with them,” Plese said.
Aune Boben led the Bluejackets’ charge with a 15th-place finish in 22:18. She was followed in by Lily Hess in 27th (23:09), Reese Aune 30th (23:14), Jorie Anderson 44th (23:42), Jocelyn Strukel 45th (23:49), Mattison Johnson 55th (24:10) and Miriam Milani 116th (28:06).
“It was nice to have Lily and Mattison back today,” Plese said. “They performed admirably. Aune ran the strongest race of her season, and her career. The elements didn’t seem to faze here. She ran close to her standard time.
“She finished in the top 15 and medaled. It helped to have her in the mix. Lily, Reese and Jorie ran well, too. I’m proud of the way the girls raced today.”
In the girls junior high race, Hibbing placed fourth with 87 points. Plainview-Elgin Millville won with 42, followed by Proctor at 78, then Champlin Park 84. Cloquet had 89, Pillager 136, North Shore 167, Mountain Lake Area-Comfrey 194 and North Branch 267.
Alizah Langner led the way for the Bluejackets, placing sixth in 12:42 over the 3,000-meter course. Addison Hess was 11th (13:25), Charleigh Hartl 16th (13:46), Gianna Figueroa 24th (14:00), Grace Bigelow 45th (14:53), Libby Elias 53rd (15:18) and Emma Reini 115th (17:44).
In the boys junior high race, the Bluejackets placed third with 107 points. Mountain Lake Area-Comfrey won it with 75, followed by Proctor at 76.
Champlin Park had 129, East Grand Forks 137, Cloquet 169, Duluth Denfeld 211, Hermantown 229, McGregor 233, Virginia 319, North Shore 323, Mesabi East 335, Rockford 351, Hinckley-Finlayson 365, MS-Stella Maris (St. John’s)_ 365, Duluth Marshall 388, Eveleth-Gilbert 405, Esko 429, Simley 455 and Grand Rapids 478.
Taite Murden led Hibbing, placing 15th in 12:02 over the 3,000-meter course. Justin Walker was 17th (12:09), Jack Gabardi 20th (12:17), Oliver Stevens 38th (12:52), Christian Massich 40th (12:58), Jeremiah Schwartz 78th (14:01), Preston Sladek 85th (14:07), Sam Gabardi 101st (14:34).
In Class A, the Chisholm High School boys placed 32nd with 957 points.
Sean Connor led the Bluestreaks with a 200th-place finish, followed by July Abernathy 202nd, Charlie Thompson 203rd, Jess Covell 215th, Kilen Klimek 218th, Jonah Giermann 220th, Dennis Kirkpatrick 228th, Luca Soderberg 230th and Bay Yukich 231st.
For the Chisholm girls, Layla Rajkovich placed 106th, and Autum Rajkovich was 148th.
In the junior high race, Isaac Fleming placed 81st, Warren Novak 88th, Hayden Roche 115th and Ben Thompson 118th.