The Osceola Chieftain cross country team does not shy away from competition. Coach Rachael Robinson historically will get her team to compete among the top schools in the area in preparation for the most important meets at the end of the season. Last week the Chieftains went to the University of Minnesota campus to compete in the prestigious Roy Griak Invitational. The Osceola girls placed sixth as a team and the boys seventh among the 50 schools entered.
“What a great showing for the Osceola Chiefs,” Robinson said. “Two top ten places at the Roy Griak Invitational is a big accomplishment. It’s a huge motivator as we transition into the last weeks of the season.”
Freshman Rachel Ulrich led the Osceola girls to their lofty finish by placing sixth overall out of the 509 runners that were entered in the race. Ulrich had a time of 19:45.7 on the tough, hilly 5,000 meter course. Juniors Lauren Ellefson and Alli Fogelberg finished within two seconds of each other in earning the 72nd and 76th spots respectively. Senior Caroline Gearin (90th) and sophomore Chloe Backlund (93rd) completed the Chieftain scoring.
“Our team has been training incredibly hard this season,” Backlund said in explaining the team’s success. “We have accomplished much but we will need to run competitively to reach our goals in our conference and Sectional meets.”
The Osceola boys displayed great balance in claiming the seventh spot as a team. The Chieftains’ top seven runners were separated by just 57 seconds with Quinn McDonald (42nd overall) the top Osceola runner finishing in 17:44.8. McDonald was followed by Kolten Heimbach (52nd), Zach Solsrud (70th), Sean Rogers (84th) and David Olson (90th).
“It’s pretty intimidating,” Heimbach said about the race that started with 561 runners. “Just getting out fast and seeing all your competitors is kind of cool to me. I like running in big meets like this throughout the season. It brings out your true talent and it gives you more perspectives about running.”
Osceola began their competitive week with a meet at Unity. The Chieftains used runners who did not compete at the Griak in order to give them more racing experience. The Osceola girls placed third out of six varsity teams entered and the boys placed fourth.
The Osceola girls team consisted of Evelyn Lutz, Michaela Schultz, Cecelia Gustafson, Margaret Nalen, Mari Valbuena and Isabelle Measner while Dylan Salewski, Mason Campbell, Dillion Peterson, Riley Koosman, Travis Jennings, Mason Hancock, Jacob Jensen, Ethan Landgreen, Kaden Pingel, Jack Morrison, Elvis Cormican and Garrett Sellers toed the starting line for the boys. Lutz was the top finisher for the girl, finishing in eighth place overall and Salewski led the boys, also finishing eighth.
“Our JV squad also had an awesome showing at Unity,” Robinson said. “The group came home with 12 personal records and two individual medals. Evelyn Lutz and Dylan Salewski each placed in the top 10 among other varsity teams. They raced with confidence and determination.”