Pacelli seventh grader is ready for state cross country meet

Pacelli seventh grader Kayla Christopherson will run in the Class 'A' state cross country meet this Saturday at St. Olaf College in Northfield. -- Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com

Pacelli seventh grader Kayla Christopherson will run in the Class ‘A’ state cross country meet this Saturday at St. Olaf College in Northfield. — Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com

Before this season began, Pacelli seventh grader Kayla Christopherson was still learning about the sport of the cross country and when it started she was running with the JV squad.

Just a couple of months later, Christopherson is preparing to run in the Class ‘A’ state girls cross country meet in St. Olaf College in Northfield Saturday at 1 p.m.

Christopherson, who was brought up to Pacelli’s varsity team in the third meet of the year, qualified for state by taking 10th at the Section 1A meet with a time of 16:23 last week.

“I was really surprised and I was so proud of myself,” Christopherson said. “I feel like I’ve gotten better, especially with hills. I feel I’ve improved a lot this season.”

Christopherson is the second Pacelli girl to qualify for state in cross country in school history. Pacelli junior Sarah Kahle was the school’s first qualifier when she finished 88th in state in 2011.

Pacelli head coach Jim Parlin said he put Christopherson and Myra Kraemer, another seventh grader who took 13th at the Section 1A meet, on the JV team early on so they could get experience and success before going up to the varsity team.

Parlin never imagined either of the two middle schoolers going to state when they started running on varsity, but they both made big strides as the season went along.

“I could not have predicted (Christopherson going to state) at the beginning of the season,” Parlin said. “With every race she made improvement and she continued to discover herself. She’s a very competitive person and she continued to get better.”

Parlin said he knew Christopherson had a chance to get to state by the time the Section 1A meet came, but he wasn’t sure how she’d handle the pressure of such a big meet.

Christopherson started running cross country as a sixth grader and she said she was a little shocked when she started running with the high school kids for the first time.

“It was a little bit scary at first, but I gained confidence as I went on,” she said.

Christopherson is nervous about running at state, but she’s thankful for all of those who helped her get there.

“My teammates have helped me especially,” Christopherson said. “I’d also like to thank my coaches, my teammates, my school, my parents and I’d like to thank God, who has given me the gifts to do well and finish hard.”

Grand Meadow-LeRoy-Ostrander-Southland junior McKenzie Kirtz will also be running in the Class ‘A’ girls state meet. Kirtz, who is in her second year of running cross country, missed her chance to get to state in her sophomore season with an injury.

Hayfield’s Gabe Tempel will be running in the Class ‘A’ boys race at state at 1:30 p.m. Tempel, a junior, took 121st place at state last season.

 

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