Pequot Lakes Patriots boys and girls cross country runners have worked hard this summer with the goal of improving on their postseason performances, which included the girls finishing third and the boys fifth in the Section 8A meet.

“It has been a great summer with many of our athletes running and putting in high mileage,” said Patriots coach Jeff Brever, who added that the Patriots will be switching to Section 7A this fall.

“On the boys side, Section 7A has depth with state-ranked teams of Greenway and Cook County,” said Brever, who is starting his fifth year as Pequot Lakes cross country coach. “Ely also returns a core group of runners to challenge the top teams. As for the girls, Mesabi East girls will be the returning section favorite after placing seventh at state last year.”

Returning letterwinners for the girls are sophomores Elisa Flaws, Carly Chaney and Ella Peterson; and eighth graders Calia Chaney, Rian Zutter, Lilix Gustafson and Emma Flaws. Others who could contribute include: senior Cassidy Chaney, junior Sheena James, and freshman Angelina Doughty.

“The girls return almost everyone, along with two state participants Calia Chaney and Rian Zutter,” Brever said. “The team placed third at sections and was six points away from going to state last year. The addition of senior Cassidy Chaney will prove to be an intrical part to the team and challenging for the top spot in the section.”

Last year, as a seventh grader, Calia Chaney finished 32nd at the Class A state cross country meet at St. Olaf College in Northfield. Chaney, who covered the course in 19 minutes, 46.2 seconds, was in 13th place after the first mile. Zutter finished 90th at state in 20:34.3.

Chaney advanced to state after finishing fourth at sections. Zutter finished 15th at sections while Carly Chaney was 22nd and Flaws 23rd. Flaws, Carly and Calia Chaney were All-Mid-State Conference performers last fall.

Returning letterwinners for the boys are seniors Brooks Anderson and Russell Pierzinski; Juniors Ethan Johnson and Collin Yahn; sophomore Jesse Clausen; and freshman Eli Laposky and Charlie Schiessl. Others who could contribute are junior Logan Haberman, sophomore Dawsin Ackerman, and eighth graders Eli Hall and Shane Crowley.

Johnson was 19th and Clausen 24th at last year’s section meet. Zutter and Johnson were also all-conference performers.

“The boys are returning many runners from last years varsity team,” Brever said. “Ethan Johnson and Jesse Clausen will likely be the front runners. The addition of track runner Dawsin Ackerman, and the mixture of our seniors and young runners, will provide great competition within the team. Overall, that will make us faster and stronger for the section meet.”

Assistant coaches are Melissa Chaney and Autumn Thull.