Pacelli trio ready for state cross country meet
Published 8:40 pm Monday, October 31, 2016
When Pacelli sophomore Kayla Christopherson went down with a foot injury early on this season, it appeared the Shamrocks would struggle to send a runner to the Minnesota Class A state meet this season.
Christopherson, a two-time all-state runner, had run in the last three state meets, but no other Pacelli runner had competed at the state level.
However things took a turn in Pacelli’s favor as Christopherson was able to bounce back and run in two meets before the Section 1A meet, freshman Rory Bickler thrived in Christopherson’s absence and senior Nathan Drees ran one of his best races of his long running career. Christopherson, Bickler and Drees will now be running in the Class A state meet in St. Olaf College in Northfield Saturday.
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Drees, who has run with the Shamrocks since he was a seventh grader, is ecstatic to be finishing his cross country career competing at the highest level.
“It means a lot that I made it,” Drees said. “It’s still kind of sinking in and you don’t believe it’s happening, but it is. It’s going to be an experience that I don’t think I’ll ever forget.”
Bickler finished in the top-10 in most meets this season and she was able to use that confidence to earn her first trip to state. She was motivated to keep Pacelli competitive when Christopherson was out of the lineup and now Bickler’s thrilled to run with Christopherson as teammates at state.
“It was hard not having a teammate, but I just had to go out and run for Kayla,” Bickler said. “I’ve only been running for three years and it didn’t ever seem like I had a chance at state [until this year].”
Christopherson said running at state will be tough after missing so much time this year, but she’s still hoping for a top-five finish after taking eighth at the state meet last year. Christopherson is glad to be running in state after having to stay very patient in recovering from her foot injury throughout the season.
“I learned my first meet to make sure to bring a stop watch, a clip board and a pen,” Christopherson said. “I had to be all spirited, but it was a real big set back for me. I think the reason I made it to state this year was because of my injury. I knew I would have to work that much harder to catch back up to the lead girls.”
Pacelli head coach Jim Parlin said that getting three runners to state meet is a big time accomplishment for the team. He was pleased with the patience shown by Christopherson and the determination shown by Bickler and Drees.
“Kayla was a real trooper through the whole thing. She prepared in a way that we needed her to do and Rory has grown a lot,” Parlin said. “Rory was doing well and she was doing it on her own without Kayla pushing her. [Drees going to state] was a real hope that I had for him going into this year. All through the year he was progressing and performing. I knew it was a possibility, but it was going to take a big effort on his part.”
Christopherson, Bickler and Drees all made sure to thank their families, coaches and God.
The Class A boys will run at 10 a.m. and the Class A girls will run at 11 a.m.