Eden Valley Watkins Kimball Girls Complete Record Setting Season!

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 Schandelmeier.

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.