Blake Bears Cross Country

Bears finish their 2015|16 season strong

Steven Nye, Staff Writer

The Blake Bears’ Cross Country team had a great year with the Girls winning the Section 4A meet and running in the State Meet, and the Boys placing fourth in the Section meet, with Michael Mitchell ‘17 placing 4th at State. Jason Shantz, the new head coach, stated, “In reflecting back on the season, I think both the boys and girls teams made great strides on improving from the previous year.”

Olivia Ohrt ‘18, a dedicated team member, shares, “this year we were good because we had a lot of young Middle Schoolers.” When asked how it felt to win both Conference and Sections, she said, “We had never won anything before, and it was a shock.”

This year, the girls’ team was aided by a very strong group of middle schoolers. Their dedication and continued effort helped guide the team to the State Meet. Next year, the girls’ team aims to win State.

For the past two years, the Cross Country team has been a part of Section 6AA, known as “the section of death,” given how strong it is with the likes of Wayzata, Edina, Minnetonka, Hopkins, and many other large public schools.

Coach Shantz shares, “One big difference that helped the mindset of the runners was being placed back in Class A by the State High School League [MSHSL].”

This move proved to increase motivation among all the athletes because they were more successful. “Overall, I think both teams had their moments of success,” stated Shantz.

Taking on the role as new head coach comes with many challenges and barriers. Coach Shantz explains that one of the biggest challenges when taking on this role is “establishing trust with your team and implementing your own philosophy.”

Both the boys’ and the girls’ teams did better than expected this year, and Shantz says they “are still working towards developing their peak potential.” With that said, “it’s exciting given our boys placed consistently in the top three and the girls team placed first or second in our meets.”

When asked how it felt leading the girls’ team as well as a boy to the state meet, Shantz said, “[it was] pure elation! We knew Michael Mitchell would qualify for the State Meet… Our top three girls runners, C.C. Lucas [‘17], Ohrt, and Alexandra Koullick [‘20] we knew had a shot at qualifying as individuals.  Qualifying the girls team was not on the radar at the start of the season.”

Bears’ Cross Country is already planning for next year. As Coach Shantz said, “The over arching goal is to improve! Improve on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis.” As the team matures, they continue to grow stronger and become more united.

Bailey Abraham '21 runs for the Bears.
Steven Nye
Bailey Abraham ’21 runs for the Bears.

As stated by Shantz himself, “If you execute the process along the way, the outcome will naturally present itself.”