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Park senior Evan Bonneson runs in the Section 3AA meet at Valleywood Golf Course in Apple Valley. Bonneson finished 13th overall to qualify for the state meet. He's the first Park runner in five years to reach state. (Bulletin photo by Nick Gerhardt)

Park cross country: Bonneson bucks trend, reaches state meet

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Park’s Evan Bonneson did it.

Bonneson, a senior, accomplished a longtime personal goal and fulfilled a team goal Thursday at the Section 3AA cross-country meet at Valleywood Golf Course in Apple Valley by qualifying for the state meet.

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Bonneson is the first Wolfpack runner – boy or girl – to reach the state meet in five years and his teammates shared the goal of having him reach the state meet this season.

“It’s opportunity we don’t get every year and for me it’s a good way to end my senior year,” Bonneson said.

Bonneson ran his first sub-17 minute race the previous week at the Suburban East Conference meet with a time of 16 minutes, 16 seconds on the 5-kilometer course on a relatively flat Falcon Ridge Golf Course in Stacy, Minn. He followed that up with his second sub-17 minute race Wednesday on a more challenging course. Bonneson had a time of 16:52 and claimed the last remaining state qualifying spot with a 13th-place finish.

Park’s longtime coach Mike Moran, who is the Wolfpack’s co-head coach this season along with Brad Narveson, said the coaches tried to take a different approach with Bonneson’s strategy this season after a near miss for a state spot at last season’s section meet.

“He sometimes picks the wrong guy and this year we tried this year to make sure he ran with the right guys,” Moran said.

The top two teams automatically qualify all their runners for the state meet and then the next top eight individual runners qualify for the state meet, which will be held Saturday, Nov. 2, at St. Olaf College in Northfield.

Bonneson hasn’t been to state meet even as a spectator before, but has some familiarity with the course at St. Olaf after running in the first meet of the year there this season.

“It is on a course I’ve been to and I don’t like it, but I’ll like a little more this time I think,” Bonneson said.

Bonneson’s trip to state means teammates on both the boys and girls teams will have an opportunity to live the state meet experience as the team will head to Northfield to cheer on Bonneson.

Overall, the Park boys finished 12th as a team with 303 points. Rosemount won the meet with 55 points and Burnsville took second with 81.

Park got improved performances from seniors Kyle Mohr and Connor Gabbert. Mohr finished 69th and served as the team’s second runner for the first time this season with a time of 18:17.2. Gabbert shaved around 30 seconds off his personal best time to finish 71st in 18:21.4. Junior Ryan Tolkinen took 73rd overall in 18:25.5 and freshman Scott Burazin finished 77th in 18:36.4.

Schulte leads Park girls with 22nd place finish

Park junior Rebekah Schulte turned in a strong performance Wednesday at the Section 3AA meet at Valleywood Golf Course in Apple Valley with a 22nd-place finish.

Schulte finished the 4-kilometer course in 15:53.9 and finished eight runners away from qualifying for the state meet.

Eagan won the meet with 94 points and Burnsville took second with 105 to claim the team spots for the state meet. The Wolfpack finished 12th with 258 points.

Sophomore Maddy Jeske placed 42nd overall in 16:34.6 while sophomore Cameron Anderson took 44th in 16:35.1, sophomore Taylor Rumpca finished 71st overall in 17:49.7 and junior Bailey Aasen took 79th overall in 18:08.

-Nick Gerhardt

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