The good news for the Osceola Chieftains and the other area cross country teams is that they are out on a course and racing against other teams. The bad news is that due to safety precautions during the pandemic, schools are not traveling as far and not seeing as big of a variety of competition. Gone for this season are the meets at Eau Claire North and Eau Claire Memorial. The Roy Griak extravaganza in Minneapolis has been scratched from the schedule. There was no season opening meet in Rosemount, Minnesota. The Chieftains will not be at the huge Rice Lake invitational. Instead OHS will get a steady diet of area teams, mostly from their own Middle Border conference.

Instead of complaining about things that they cannot control Osceola is focused on the schedule in front of them. For the second straight week the Chieftains competed against the other seven MBC teams, this time the meet was in Somerset. Once again the OHS girls held off a potent St. Croix Central Panther squad to earn the top spot among eight schools. The boys once again could not run down a powerful New Richmond team and had to settle for the runner-up spot.

“We had the perfect conditions for a fast race,” Osceola coach Rachael Robinson said. “Every single athlete ran a faster time than last week and a few of our veteran athletes broke some monumental barriers. Quinn McDonald broke 17 minutes and Rachel Ulrich broke 19 minutes, leading their teams to a second and first place finish.”

The Osceola girls made every point count as they slipped by SCC by four points. New Richmond was third, just 14 points from the top spot. Panther senior Mya Kizer won the race with a slim four second margin over Osceola sophomore Rachel Ulrich.

“SCC is providing us with some great competition,” Ulrich said. “It is exciting to have so much talent in our conference. Rising to the challenge and having the opportunity to run against other strong athletes will ultimately make our team even stronger.”

 Chieftain senior Lauren Ellefson placed fourth overall and classmate Alli Fogelberg was the third OHS runner with an 11th place finish. Chloe Backlund was one spot behind Fogelberg. Freshmen Merri Johnson (19th overall) and Adelyn Ellefson (20th) were the next two Chieftains to finish. Arieana Hayton completed the Osceola varsity effort finishing 38th in the 72 runner field.

“The girls’ team has also been graced with new faces to the varsity squad,” Robinson mentioned. “SCC ran a very tactical race gaining valuable points with their top three runners but Chloe Backlund, Merri Johnson and Adelyn Ellefson kept them from taking over the lead. They are the best fourth, fifth, and sixth runners in the field right now, and we plan to keep it that way.”

The Osceola boys once again earned the number two team spot behind a powerful New Richmond Tiger squad. The first time these teams met this season it was the Tigers winning by 29 points. This time they stretched their advantage to 35 points. New Richmond’s Max Blader won the 5,000 meter race in an impressive time of 15:57.97. Quinn McDonald led Osceola’s effort, finishing third among 68 runners. Chieftain Kolten Heimbach also earned a top-10 spot finishing ninth overall. Freshman Ethan Hall continues to impress with an 11th place finish. Dylan Salewski (16th) and Mason Hancock (18th) completed the OHS scoring. Carver Lundholm (22nd) and Michael O’Connor (32nd) ran in Osceola’s sixth and sevenths spots respectively.

“Mason Hancock, Ethan Hall, Dylan Salewski, Carver Lundholm and Michael O’Connor are all new to varsity running but they demonstrated that they are ready for the challenge,” Robinson said. “Each one of them ran a career personal best.”

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