Boys’ Cross Country wins State competition

courtesy of Willem Gokemeijer

Cecilia Orth, visual editor

Edina and Wayzata Boys’ Cross Country have fought for the State Title for the past seven years. Until now, Edina repeatedly placed second and third. For the first time in the program’s history, Edina Boys’ Cross Country won State on Nov. 3.

At the beginning of the season, the team’s initial goal was to win State – and after the Griak, a big middle of the season race, their goal was cemented. “When we won that race, I think we were like, okay, we have a chance here. So from that midpoint of the season we were like, alright, [winning State] is definitely the goal,” senior captain Willem Gokemeijer said.

Even with two of the top seven athletes injured and out for the season, the team did not let the challenges deter them and worked to improve and fill the openings. “I would say the team as a whole stepped up when someone went down…everyone came together,” senior captain Luke Jessen said.

Other than the team, the captains credit a great part of their success to the head coach of 20 years, Jamie Kirkpatrick. This year, he trained the varsity team hard with eight practices per week. “He’s a fantastic coach so it’s really nice that he can have that honor under his name,” Jessen said.

The team’s mindset ultimately contributed to their success at State. “As a group, we really had a team mindset. It was competitive with one another but as a team, we worked really well together and trained really hard together…there’s a lot of team chemistry,” said Jessen.

In addition, the team bonded to close the gaps between the various grade levels. “In years past, the grades have been a little more separate. I feel like this year, we were just really close to the entire varsity group and so there’s just a lot more bonding,” Gokemeijer said.

Many of the varsity members are graduating and next year’s team will have to step up. “They’re gonna have to move up as a pack. But yeah, they have a chance,” Gokemeijer said.

Jessen advises his teammates to keep up the hard work at practice in order to win State again. “Practicing is kind of brutal, workouts are very difficult. But I would say it’s very worth it. In the end, you’re not going to look back and be like, I wish I ran easier,” Jessen said.