Park boys cross country: Bonneson reaches finish line at state meet
For the past four years, Evan Bonneson has been the frontrunner for the Park boys cross country team. On Saturday the senior finished his career at the state meet at St. Olaf College in Northfield for the first time.
“He finally ran his last race where he wanted to,” said Mike Moran, who has been the coach of Park for 22 seasons. “He was close last year, but didn’t have his best race at sections and he’s been thinking about this the whole time.”
Bonneson, who was Park’s first representative at the state meet in five years, finished in 91st place overall with a time of 16 minutes, 55.8 seconds in the 5-kilometer race. Bonneson has been on the Park varsity team since ninth grade and has been the top finisher for the Wolfpack in every race dating back to his freshman year.
“This is something I’ve been after forever,” Bonneson said. “Half my team came out to see me. That means a lot to me. I don’t think I’ve ever had support like this before. It’s been awesome.”
Bonneson said the state meet course was crowded, but the weather was nearly ideal.
“I think I could’ve gone faster if I wouldn’t have been jockeying for space the whole time,” he said. “If it wasn’t so crowded I think I could’ve PR’d today.”
Bonneson’s time at state was the third-best of his career. His personal record is 16:16, which he ran at the Suburban East Conference championship race at Les Bolstad Golf Course. He followed it up with a time of 16:52 at the Section 3AA cross-country meet at Valleywood Golf Course to qualify for the state meet.
“His last three races are his best three times ever,” Moran said. “There’s not much else you can ask for.”
The Wayzata boys team won the state title – as did the Wayzata girls – with 53 place points, edging second-place Edina (66 points) and third-place Stillwater (99 points). Richfield senior Obsa Ali won the individual state title with a time of 15:15.2.
“I knew there would be a front pack of elite, Division 1 runners,” Bonneson said. “My goal was to stay with the group of middle-elites and then try to pick people off. I felt like I accomplished that goal.”
One thing Bonneson said he had in mind was to try and finish ahead of his longtime rival runners from Woodbury – Nick Wareham and Taylor Voit. Bonneson was able to do so. Voit, a senior, was 93rd and Wareham, a junior, took 151st.
“I don’t really know them, but I know I’ve been looking at their rear end the past three years,” Bonneson said. “It feels good for them to look at mine for once.”
Bonneson has verbally committed to run cross country and track at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall next year. He’s also looking for second straight trip to the Nordic skiing state meet for Park this winter.
“I’m hoping I can continue to improve throughout college,” Bonneson said. “Coach Nate Wolf is doing a lot of really good things down there.”
Moran, who was also a Park graduate, said he hopes Bonneson’s success story will inspire younger runners.
“Hopefully this helps getting more kids out and motivates some other kids to want to get here too,” he said.