Cross country: Elk 8th-grader Trapp earns state trip; Elk boys 5th in section

The Elks broke away from the starting line in Cloquet, with eventual state qualifier Lucas Trapp in the middle. (Photo by Deanna Rotz)

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

Eighth-grader Lucas Trapp became the youngest Elk River boy to qualify for the state cross country meet Thursday, placing 10th in Section 7AA at Cloquet.

And a squad with just two seniors in the top seven continued to show promise for future seasons, placing fifth among 16 schools.

Cole Konczal placed 15th at sectionals in his final race for the Elks. (Photo by Deanna Rotz)

Trapp covered 5,000 meters in 16:48 at Cloquet Golf Club, placing 10th, earning a trip to the state meet at Northfield on Saturday, Nov. 5.

“Lucas is a mature boy, a pretty big boy already,” said coach Mike Niziolek. “He could be a force to be reckoned with in years to come, with his physique and stamina.”

Niziolek, coach for about 20 years, mentioned Zach Varty as the previous youngest state qualifier. Varty qualified his freshman year in 2002 and the next three years.

In boys cross country, runners as young as Trapp making “state” are rare. Last year’s Class AA state field of 156 runners included two eighth-graders, one seventh-grader and four freshmen.  Two years ago, 10 freshmen qualified but no eighth- or seventh-graders.

Andover was runaway team champion with 30 points, and had the individual champion in Mitch Fisher in 16:01. The Huskies were followed by Forest Lake with 98, Duluth East 120, Grand Rapids 121 and the Elks with 126, far ahead of sixth-place Chisago Lakes with 167.

The Elks also had junior Ryan Trapp in 13th place (17:06), senior Cole Konczal 15th (17:08), freshman Mitch Weege 33rd (17:41), sophomore Breck Hickman 55th (18:10), junior Nate Webster 64th (18:22), and senior Blake Thompson 67th (18:26),

“For the boys, I think this might be the beginning of something special,” said Niziolek. “We have a lot of new faces this year and they are getting used to running and cut their times tremendously.”

Earning state trips in the meet in pine country at Cloquet were eighth-graders Rachel Ness (left) and Lucas Trapp, and junior Chelsea Schlegel. (Photo by Deanna Rotz)