2014 Spring Preview: Bonneson running final races for Park boys track team
As an eighth-grader, Evan Bonneson gave Park head track coach Mike Moran a phone call and told him he wanted to run for the varsity team that spring.
Moran didn’t let him.
“I hope he regrets it,” joked Bonneson, who is now a senior. “I wanted to run varsity track as an eighth grader, because I knew I could. I felt like there would be better people to chase in high school and I wanted that opportunity.”
Bonneson had to wait, but joined the varsity cross country and track teams at Park as a freshman. Since then he’s been the Wolfpack’s top distance runner.
“We had never heard of him,” Moran said about Bonneson as an eighth-grader. “He came out the next fall in cross country and he was my No. 2 right away and I think he finished as my No. 1 most of the time as a freshman. Starting his sophomore year he never lost to anybody at Park. He got better and better every year.”
This spring, Bonneson is giving it one last lap.
“It hasn’t quite hit me yet, but I’m sure it will at sections,” Bonneson said about his final season at Park. “Right now, I’m just having fun.”
Earlier this year Bonneson qualified for the cross country state meet in the fall and the Nordic skiing state meet in the winter, where he earned an all-state honor. This spring, it’s his goal to go three-for-three.
“I just really want to go to state in track,” Bonneson said. “I have cross country and Nordic, but I want that third state patch. That’s the one thing I really want now.”
Bonneson, who runs the 1-mile and the 2-mile for Park, said last spring’s track season was tough. He said he focused so much on Nordic skiing in the winter it hurt his running ability after the snow melted.
“Last year I felt like I robbed myself of a track season for a good Nordic season. I burnt myself out a little bit,” Bonneson said. “It paid off, but it kind of ruined my track season. This year I’m ready and I don’t have anything holding me back. It’s going to be a good time.”
At last year’s Section 3AA championship meet at the University of St. Thomas, Bonneson finished 15th in the 1-mile in a time of 4 minutes, 47.59 seconds, which was last place in the top heat and slower than his personal best of 4:29. He then placed 13th in the 2-mile with a time of 10:18.40.
“That was the first time I’ve ever gotten last place in a race,” Bonneson said. “That hurt me. It hurt even more to see a kid who had my PR go to state. That was rough, but I’m ready to redeem myself.”
Bonneson has some tough competition in Section 3AA, led by Richfield’s Obsa Ali and Hastings’ Zach Benning, who are both seniors and two of the top distance runners in the state.
But Moran said he believes Bonneson can beat his personal best times this year.
“I think he’s going to drop down way below 10 minutes (in the 2-mile),” Moran said. “If he gets the right race and he runs it well he’s going to be well below 10 minutes. It’s going to be cool.”
Moran said he thinks Bonneson is a better runner the longer the race is.
“He’s not a foot-speed sprinter guy, but he’s reasonably fast and he’s willing to do the work,” Moran said. “That’s going to suit him well in the middle and longer distances in college. I think he’s going to do pretty well.”
Bonneson signed to run cross country and track at Southwest Minnesota State University next year.
“We want kids to like it well enough to go to college and have room to improve when they are in college,” Moran said. “His mileage is going to go up in college. I think he’s going to be pretty good, especially in the longer distances. That’ll help him a lot.”
Moran said Bonneson is a “great kid” who is a leader on and off the track.
“He works hard, he concentrates and he’s a leader with the younger guys,” Moran said. “We probably had the best summer of captain’s running practice we’ve ever had, because he was organizing it. He’s very persuasive and very sure of himself.
“He’s always willing to talk to people and encourage people. Some guys are quieter, but he’s more outspoken about supporting people. He’s not shy at all.”
Bonneson said he’s had the role of a leader prior to this season and he’s tried to set a good example for the younger athletes on the team.
“We didn’t really have that many senior guys last year, so for the distance runners I kind of had to put on my big boy pants,” Bonneson said. “I think the younger guys have always kind of looked up to me, if not because I’m a good role model, because I’m fast. I like them and they like me. It’s a good relationship.”
Moran said the Park boys track team is “quite young and rebuilding” this season. The team does return some top athletes like Brandyn Tulloch, Ethan Berube and Michael Griffin in addition to Bonneson, but needs to replace 2013 graduates Dylan Smallidge and Irving Gutierrez.
The top track teams in the Suburban East Conference this season are expected to be Stillwater, White Bear Lake and Mounds View, with Eastview, Apple Valley, Prior Lake and Burnsville the teams to beat in the section.
“We’re a little more scarce this year, but we have some kids I’m excited about,” Bonneson said. “We have a couple kids that are state-bound for sure.”