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Laker boys' cross-country wins Mid-State crown

The 2009 Mid-State champions are the Detroit Lakes boys' cross country team. They include (L to R)Luke Wiebolt, Brandon Olson, Leif Johnson, Mike Okeson, Dylan Ramstad-Skoyles, Travis King and Wesley Bakken.

Members of the Detroit Lakes boys' cross country team all have a new signature on their phone texts after this past Wednesday -- Mid-State Conference champions.

The 17-year drought was snapped Wednesday as the Lakers became Mid-State Conference champions.

"That was a fun bus ride home," said senior Leif Johnson, who also took home the top individual honors with his 16:18.28 time.

"We worked as a team and we got to the top."

There were plenty of subplots to the Lakers' eventual conference championship, but none more important than junior Dylan Ramstad-Skoyles' race.

As No. 2 runner on the Laker team, Ramstad-Skoyles proved to be the catalyst and equalizer during the 5K race, by sacrificing a potential place or two to do his best for the team.

"Dylan was the runner of the meet," said DL head coach Bill Kvebak. "He helped lead our three through five runners through the first mile of the meet, then sprinted up to the front to give a spark to Leif, who was struggling."

Ramstad-Skoyles stuck with the plan of running with the back group the first mile, then making a move towards the front of the pack in the second half of the race. But the Laker junior did more than just pace himself, he helped set a good pace for DL's back runners of sophomore Wes Bakken, Luke Wiebolt and Michael Okeson, who were running as a pack.

"Our pace at the start of the race was a bit slower than we needed, so I just set a faster pace for them and they stuck with me," Ramstad-Skoyles said of his front part of the race.

After the 1.5 mile mark, Ramstad-Skoyles made his way to where Johnson was running -- and struggling.

"I wasn't feeling too well, my stomach wasn't feeling good and I was feeling pretty tired," Johnson said.

Ramstad-Skoyles was able to get within earshot of Johnson and basically told him it was time to make his move.

"I told him the two runners in front of him didn't need to be in first," Ramstad-Skoyles said. "I told him it was his turn to win."

Gunner Johnson of Staples-Motley had beat DL's Johnson in the previous meetings this season, but Wednesday wasn't going to be another loss.

"That helped," Leif Johnson said of Ramstad-Skoyles' little pep talk. "I was able to pass one of the guys around the 600-meter mark and after I was 15 feet back of (S-M's Johnson), I heard him breathing pretty heavily."

Leif Johnson's forté through the season has been finishing strong and that was exactly what occurred in the final stretch, where he overtook Gunner Johnson to win by 6.26 seconds.

"Leif just owned (Gunner Johnson) in those last 600 meters," Kvebak added.

Ramstad-Skoyles still finished in fourth place with a 16:27.97, even though he could have finished higher if he didn't expend his energy trying to push his teammate Johnson.

But in the end, it was all worth it.

"I felt a little dead trying to get up there and possibly if I didn't do that, I could have finished better," Ramstad-Skoyles said.

"But I did the right thing. I have no regrets and everything worked out great."

Four Lakers earned All-Conference honors after finishing in the top 10, including Johnson, Ramstad-Skoyles, Bakken and Wiebolt.

"Wes Bakken had an incredible race, this being his first year and earning All-Conference honors is amazing," Kvebak said.

"We finished one spot ahead of each Staples-Motley runner, and Wes started that by beating their No. 3 runner."

Michael Okeson was 11th for the Lakers and was followed in by Brandon Olson in 15th and Travis King in 22nd.

The Lakers will prep for the Section 8-2A meet in their final regular season event in Bemidji Tuesday.

"Our confidence is high heading into sections now," Johnson said.

"There is no reason we should take a backseat to anyone in the section this year," Kvebak said.

Laker girls fifth in conference

The DL girls' team finished fifth, as Marie Yokan finished sixth individually with a mark of 15:32.60 for All-Conference honors.

The youth on the team did show, but it was just another addition to the learning curve for the future, said DL head girls' coach Jon Freeman.

"They all had great times and they all ran in bunches, it was just that we were on the backside of every bunch," Freeman said.

"I thought we ran as well or better as I was expecting. I am not disappointed in them in any way."

McKenzie Foltz was the second DL runner in at 22nd, with a 16:32.97 time and was immediately followed in by Berit Ramstad-Skoyles in 23rd.

Keandra Schumacher was 28th, Veronica Haverkamp was 29th and Shannon Goetz 34th to round out the Lakers' lineup.

The girls will use the Bemidji meet to set their section roster, with the top five spots pretty much secured and the sixth through ninth slots still wide open.

"The JV is running out of their heads, so we have about 12-13 girls vying for those final spots on varsity for section," Freeman said. "The depth is there."

Laker results

Mid-State Conference meet in Park Rapids, Wednesday, Oct. 14.

Boys' team results: Detroit Lakes 31, Staples-Motley 42, Pequot Lakes 57, Crosby-Ironton 109, Wadena-Deer Creek 148, Park Rapids 151.

DL results (*All-Conference): 1. *Leif Johnson 16:18.28; 4. *Dylan Ramstad-Skoyles 17:27.97; 6. *Wes Bakken 16:59.47; 9. *Luke Wiebolt 17:07.59; 11. Michael Okeson 17:23.42; 15. Brandon Olson 17:36.31; 22. Travis King 18:03.85.

Girls' team results: Park Rapids 31, Staples-Motley 45, Pequot Lakes 82, Crosby-Ironton 90, Detroit Lakes 91.

DL results (*All-Conference): 6. *Marie Yokan 15:32.60; 22. McKenzie Foltz 16:32.97; 23. Berit Ramstad-Skoyles 16:35.70; 28. Keandra Schumacher 16:57.05; 29. Veronica Haverkamp 17:00.15; 34. Shannon Goetz 17:52.95.