Cross-Country: Lake City hopes to rebuild old dynasty
For a time, Lake City was a hotbed for high school cross-country. But in recent years, the Tigers have fallen on tough times. A school accustomed to trips to the state meet, Lake City had a brief run in the mid-2000s, culminating with a state appearance in 2007.
But since then, the Tigers have not had much success.
That has changed.
The Lake City girls team placed second in the Section 1A meet, clinching a spot in the state meet. Freshman Carl Kozlowski placed sixth in the boys’ Section 1A race, good enough to claim one of seven at-large spots available outside of the two teams that qualify. The rest of the Lake City boys fell just eight points shy of a team appearance.
At the beginning of the season, Lake City head coach Howard Cook tasked his teams with placing in the top two at the section meet.
“To be quite honest, the goal was to make it (to state),” Cook said. “We went 12 or 14 years in a row, missed a couple years, and went several times after that. And then we kind of hit a dry spot with leadership and stuff. This is a group that I’ve been watching, my juniors, since about eighth grade. And we added some kids to it. Our goal was to get to state.”
And now that the Tigers have reservations for Saturday’s race at St. Olaf College in Northfield, what is the new goal?
“My comment to them last week was the fact that we made it, you’ve got two choices: You can be satisfied to be there, or you can do well up there,” Cook said.
“It’s a process of getting the experience for them. Many of them have been there in track and field. We’ve been there the last three years in true team. A couple of them ran on our (1,600-meter relay) team at state. But this is really a new experience for them,” he said.
But besides the chance to run in such an important race, Cook said he isn’t going to put anything on the Tigers’ shoulders. That, he said, will be left up to the individuals.
“I don’t know if they know what they want to do. But they won’t just go up there and not run aggressively,” Cook said. “I think it will be interesting as the week goes on what they tell me they want to do. I’m not setting the goals for them.”
Cook did, however, set a bit of a goal for Kozlowski, who broke the freshman record that was set in 1986. “And there were several kids that ended up all-state later on that never got that,” Cook said.
Cook added that he’d like to see Kozlowski place in the top 50, which, as a freshman, “would be a very good showing,” Cook said.
Cook hasn’t mentioned much of anything in the way of team goals. Instead, the coach has kept quiet, allowing Kozlowski and the girls team of Sidney Renelt, Morgan Dammann, Lydia Taylor, Hannah Alitz, Samantha Keller, Liv Kozlowski and Rebecca Goertzen to take the week of preparation in stride.
“I don’t need them all amped up where they’re thinking about racing for a week,” Cook said. “I try to keep things low key.”
If things go right, the only thing the Tigers will be doing in the future is rising up.
“I think this is, with the kids we have right now, is the beginning of returning back to the level we once operated at,” Cook said. “We’ve got eight or nine other girls that won’t be running that are running very well. We walked away with our JV conference championship, too. We’re trying to start that tradition we once had.”
The Lake City girls will be on the course at 1 p.m. Saturday, followed by the Class A boys at 2 p.m.