The EVWK girls cross country team, and their coaches Holly
Hansen and Terry Nelson, pulled off two of the biggest upsets in the history of
the program this season. The girls won
their first conference title since 2008, and then followed that with a
runner-up finish at the section meet to qualify for state.
Based on research done by MileSplit MN, Eden Valley
Watkins has had cross country since 1991, with the addition of the girls
program from Kimball in 1997. This was
their first trip to the state meet!
According to John Donnay, father of Anna Donnay, the
communities of Eden Valley, Watkins, and Kimball responded very well to the
girls qualifying for the state meet. The
Eden Valley Voice ran a six page article, the school van made laps around the
towns, the elementary schools extended high fives, and a pep fest was given at
both high schools!
On Saturday November 7, 2015, seven EVWK girls successfully
ran the tough 5000 meter cross country run over the hills and rough terrain at
St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN.
Junior Anna Donnay finished in seventh place out of 175 runners on what
was a very warm November day. She gained
All-State honors in cross country for the second time. In addition, Anna has made All-State in
track & field by finishing fourth last year in the 3200 meter run.
The girls can be proud to have been state level runners
because Cross Country and Track & Field have fewer state participants
percentage wise, than any other activity sponsored by the Minnesota State High
School League. The other girls on EVWK's
great team at the state meet were: freshman Amaya Lyrek, Freshman Libby Yozamp,
8th grader Olivia Kuechle, freshman Rachel Utecht, 7th
grader Zya Lueders, and 8th grader Cailyn Kuechle. These six were only about one minute apart
and some have changed positions throughout the season. Junior Courtney Geislinger and freshman Krista
Loch were listed as alternates on the team roster.
Among the 64 boys and girls teams at the state meet, EVWK
was the second youngest team only to the Luverne girls team led by junior Madi
This gives coaches Hansen and Nelson something to work with,
plus an emerging young boys team led by sophomore Matthew Notch, junior Zach
Swenson, freshman Greg Gathje, and junior Joey Kuechle.
Head Coach Holly Hansen's summary of the season: "It was really fun to see the talent
come together, of the nine that comprised my varsity state team, 4-first
season, 4 second season, and 1 third season.
That kind of speaks volumes to the kinds of kids that are finding their
way to Cross Country. I am impressed
that they worked hard and came together as a team. The leadership of the athletes that competed
and equally from the rest of the team, especially the eight female seniors was
wonderful. It allowed them to balance
their passion, hard work and fun levels into a successful team. I was hoping that all would get their personal
bests at the state race to end on a even more of a high, but that came to only
a few. Regardless, it was the first team
at state in the program's history and they have so much to be proud of."
The state cross country meet is a lot of fun to attend because everyone can find old friends, and meet new ones, and talk about one of the greatest sports ever invented. Each race tends to have a total of almost a thousand people, if you include the runners, spectators, and officials. The race itself tends to be the main focus. This makes for an emotional and loud event. Unlike going to a game, play, or other performance, there is not as much waiting in line and it's not as expensive!
There are certainly some in attendance that know very little about distance running and are following a grandchild. However the opposite is usually the norm. "Cross Country is great kids," and you get to see a lot of "old" people, running around trying to chase the runners on the course. It's easy to imagine that many of the parents, although slow, were once runners themselves.