On Thursday, October 26th the North Shore Storm Cross Country team traveled to Coleraine, MN to compete in the Section 7A Section Cross Country meet. In 2021 the MSHSL changed the cross country format from two classes to three, which moved the Storm from A to AA. Silver Bay’s own Nate Bilben was the first Storm runner to qualify for State as an AA runner, along with the girl’s team, which included then 7th grader Sierra Geatz. For two seasons the Storm performed well at the AA level but were very excited when they learned they were moving back down to A this season. Well, last Thursday the team learned that for the 2023 season, Section 7A is much more competitive than 7AA.
The Storm went into the Section meet with hopes of advancing at least two individual runners, Senior Olya Wright from Cook County and 10th grader Nick Swartz from Silver Bay. The weather was cold, but dry. Eagles Ridge Golf Course made for a competitive course, but the Storm could not advance any runners to the State meet. This was the first time since the 2011 season that the Storm did not advance a runner or team to State. Olya missed advancing by one place while Nick missed out by two places. Nick did run a spectacular PR time of 17:40 on the 5k course, putting him at #13 on the Storm’s All-Time fastest runners. He was the Storm’s MVP for this season as he was consistently the team’s top runner.
Silver Bay also had three other runners competing for the Storm at Sections: 9th grader Sierra Geatz, 8th grader Grace Swartz, and 7th grader Sophia Schut. Sierra, who was a member of the 2021 State team, has battled injuries all season, but fought back to run her fastest 5k time of this season at Sections: 22:13. This earned her the team’s Tough as Steel award. Sierra’s fastest 5k came last season at Proctor when she ran a 21:00. At the moment she is #6 on the Storm’s All-Time list, but with three more seasons left you know she will continue to move up that list. Grace, who split her season between Junior High races and three Varsity races, ran her fastest 5k at Sections: 23:30. Her performances earned her the 5th runner award from the team. 7th grader Sophia Schut, who has either won the majority of her Junior High races or been the 2nd fastest varsity runner for the Storm, finished her 1st Sections race at 21:31, putting her #12 on the Storm’s All-Time fastest list. Sophia earned the Rookie of the Year award from the Storm.
Other notable performances from Silver Bay runners this season include 8th grader Liz Swartz who, despite a lower leg injury, improved her time from 13:14 to 12:06. Danielle Sohr was able to go from 12:46 to 10:20 in just four races. She was consistently the Storm’s 2nd Junior High runner behind Sophia Schut. The Junior High team runs between 2.5k and 3k for their races.
On the boys’ side, 11th grader Odin Hansen dropped over 6 minutes, going from 28:31 to 22:20 for the 5k. Newcomer Jack Virginia improved by two minutes from the beginning of the season to the last race, 28:34 down to 26:32.
The Storm has a great group of Junior High boys, including a few from Silver Bay, who will definitely be running at State in no time. Sam Swartz started his season at 10:17 and ended at 9:11. He and teammate Leif Lindstrom from Cook County were always the top runners for the Junior High boys. Atley Beckstrand didn’t start racing for the Storm until mid-season, but dropped four and half minutes in just four races: 14:01 to 9:31. He ended up as the Junior High boys 4th fastest runner. Wade Melander improved by almost three minutes as he began at 13:23 and ended at 10:32. Arlen Ernest remained pretty consistent in his three races running around 10:40. Lain Dehnhoff did well going from 15:35 to 12:57. KJ Johnson stayed consistent around 13:50 in his three races.
The Storm may not be competing at the MSHSL State Class A Cross Country meet this year, but the future looks bright for the team. Arms go, legs go.