There are times that McKenzie Holt will run parts of her workouts with the boys … for the competition.
“On weekends, I’ll run with some of the guys on our team,” Holt said. “They really push me, especially when we’re running 400s.”
Holt was pushed mostly by her personal goals for the race on Thursday. Holt, a junior for St. Cloud Christian School, led the entire 4,000-meter race of the Sauk Rapids Invitational and won with 14 minutes, 52 seconds.
That was 28 seconds faster than St. Cloud Cathedral sophomore Rachel Eickhoff, who took second. Eickhoff is no slouch. She won the Apollo Early Bird Invitational last week and took 16th in the Class A state meet last fall.
“Sitting at my desk at school today, I was nervous, thinking about running against her,” Holt said. “She pushed me. I thought she was right behind me the whole race. I’m really excited with how I ran.”
She credits her offseason training regimen for helping her to the win Thursday.
“I did a lot of training with a six-minute mile pace,” she said. “Each summer, I do a lot of high mileage. I was over 500 miles this summer.
“But I didn’t just want to do the miles. I wanted to make them quality miles and I got a lot of speed work in.”
Holt said her goal is to get back in the top five in the state meet. She said the competition in Section 5A will also help her prepare for state. Not only is Cathedral in the section, but so is Annandale, which took second at last year’s state meet.
“I tried to go out fast and I wanted to see if I could keep going,” Holt said. “When you get to sections and state, you don’t want to get caught in the pack. So I wanted to go out really hard.”
Eickhoff said that she did not try to keep up with Holt’s strong start.
“She always starts really fast and that’s what gets her her awesome edge,” Eickhoff said. “We all were mentally prepared for that.
“The way our team looked at it is that we can run as a team and push each other. Then if (Holt) gets close to one of us, we can go after her. But she’s always been such a strong runner and she runs her race.”
The Crusaders, the defending state champions, won the team title in the five-team meet with 23 points. Sophomore Paige Danielson took fourth (15:47) and junior Morgan Durbin was fifth (16:42) for Cathedral.
St. Cloud Tech junior Wade Krueger cruised to the win in the boys’ 5,000-meter race with a time of 17:10. He finished 1:14 ahead of teammate Max Webb, who took second.
Not bad for his first time on the course.
“I felt good with my pace to start, but the end of the race was a little slower,” Krueger said. “That may be because I didn’t really have someone pushing me.”
Krueger took 55th in last year’s Class AA state cross country meet and is hoping for a better finish this year.
Girls team scores: 1. Cathedral 23; 2. St. Cloud Tech 56; 3. Sauk Rapids 70; 4. St. Cloud Apollo 93; 5. Eden Valley-Watkins/Kimball 128.
Girls top 10 (4,000 meters): 1. McKenzie Holt (St. Cloud Christian) 14:52; 2. Rachel Eickhoff (Cathedral) 15:20; 3. Samantha Sunstrom (SR) 15:31; 4. Paige Danielson (C) 15:47; 5. Morgan Durbin (C) 16:42; 6. Kristen Heinen (SCC) 16:53; 7. Lauren Steinke (T) 17:00; 8. Hallee Curtis (C) 17:12; 9. Maria Null (T) 17:24; 10. Makayla Kelley-Bros (A) 17:26.
Boys team scores: 1. St. Cloud Tech 20; 2. St. Cloud Apollo 51; 3. Sauk Rapids 60.
Boys top 10 (5,000 meters): 1. Wade Krueger (T) 17:10; 2. Max Webb (T) 18:24; 3. Isaac Nelson (A) 18:41; 4. Grant Myres (T) 18:57; 5. Cory Rouw (T) 18:57; 6. Jordan LeMieur (SR) 19:14; 7. Matt Lerch (A) 19:21; 8. Zackary Leslie (T) 19:57; 9. Logan Thorson (T) 20:31; 10. Mickey Amo (SR) 20:40.