by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
When you’re hosting the conference cross country meet, you’d love to keep at least one of the four championships at home.
Lucas Trapp provided Elk River with that one gold-medal performance Thursday, racing to first place among 77 runners in the Northwest Suburban Conference meet at Elk River Golf Club.
“I can’t believe I just won conference,” said Trapp, a lanky sophomore who placed fifth last year and 12th as an eighth-grader. “My goals are to win conference and section — the main goal is section in two weeks.”
The Elk boys finished sixth among 11 teams, while the girls placed fourth and had the individual runner-up in Rachel Ness.
Centennial was the champion with five of the top 15 runners, led by Ben Jack in fifth place.
Trapp hit the tape in 16:24.7, beating last year’s time by 13 seconds. Maple Grove’s Mitchell Dickerson was four seconds behind.
“He kept catching up, and falling back,” said Trapp, who was elbow-to-elbow with the Crimson junior with about 120 meters left, heading toward the final hairpin turn. “Then he fell back again. I just out-sprinted him.”
Trapp remembered finishing behind Maple Grove’s top two runners at the Milaca Mega Meet on Sept. 21. This time, he battled Dickerson the whole race and the other Crimson placed ninth.
Behind Trapp and Dickerson in the top five were Armstrong’s Jon Delaney (16:43.8), Coon Rapids’ Jackson Bednar (16:45.7) and Jack (16:49.7).
Trapp, a two-time state qualifier and three-time all-conference runner, was proud to put the Elks back on the victory stand.
“It’s been a while since the boys have had a conference champion,” he said.
The Elk boys had not had one since a string of three straight by John Kallemeyn in 2002 and 2003 and Zach Varty in 2004. The Elk girls have collected six golds, five by Emma Bates and one by Ness.
“I felt he would be one of the top three. He definitely ran very well,” said Elk coach Mike Niziolek. “Winning conference as a 10th-grade boy is a remarkable achievement. He has progressed a lot this year, not only physically but mentally.”
Trapp was the Elks’ lone all-conference runner (top 22). Zach Glasgow was 25th (17:31.4), Jeremy Hanson 26th (17:39.0), Breck Hickman 31st (17:45.7) and Cory Warner 41st (18:13.5).
Team scores were Centennial 47, Armstrong 82, Maple Grove 98, Andover 98, Osseo 100, Elk River 124, Coon Rapids 156, Blaine 182, Anoka 268, Champlin Park 296, and Park Center 316.