Sauk Centre senior Brandon Kampson said he and Nova Classical Academy senior Henry Karelitz are “basically even” cross country runners. But they have different strengths.
Karelitz is built for distance, while Kampson — an 800-meter runner in track and field — has a stronger kick at the finish.
Last fall, as the two were dueling for second place at the state meet, Karelitz was able to hold off a hard-charging Kampson to claim the second spot.
On Saturday, it was advantage Kampson.
Kampson stayed close enough to Karelitz, who led throughout the race, to push past him on the closing stretch and claim the state title at St. Olaf in Northfield, Minn. with a time of 15 minutes, 49.44 seconds — six seconds ahead of second-place Karelitz.
“I was just trying to stick with him, hit on his heel. He runs the two mile in track and I run the 800, so I got that little extra speed on him, so I knew if I stuck by his hip, I could most likely take him on the last 200 meters,” Kampson said. “Once I got up that hill, he started to slow up, I passed him and then I took off.”
Kampson said he joined the sport in seventh grade with zero expectations of achieving such heights. He finally joined track two years ago, a move that exponentially increased his love for running.
Sauk Centre, he noted, didn’t previously have the strongest distance program. Now it has a state champion.
“I don’t think we’ve had a state champion in our school for 30 or 40 years, so this is something very big for me,” Kampson said. “I wanted to really leave something, bring it back to the town, so I’ll be remembered in the school.”
Heritage Christian Academy won the team title, edging Luverne by three points. Heritage Christian Academy won with depth, with three runners finishing in the top 31 of the individual portion.
A pair of Minneapolis runners finished atop the podium, with Minneapolis Washburn’s Aidan Jones winning the state title with a time of 15 minutes, 11.73 seconds. That was four seconds ahead of Minneapolis Southwest’s Sam Scott.
Jones and Scott are the first Minneapolis public school boys to finish one-two at the state meet since 1955.
Rosemount’s Ryan Mulrooney finished in sixth to help lead the Irish to a second-place finish in the team competition. Rosemount had four runners finish in the top 20, with Joe McNeil, Will Harder and George Edgar finishing 18th, 19th and 20th in succession.
Wayzata won the team championship, finishing 41 points clear of Rosemount. The Trojans were led by Hamza Mohamed, who placed fourth in the overall, and William Weber, who finished ninth.
Lakeville North’s Andrew Casey finished eighth for the Panthers, who took third in the team competition, just five points back of Rosemount.
Belle Plaine’s Emmett Gerres won the state meet with a time of 15 minutes, 13.62 seconds with Rock Ridge’s Cameron Stocke in second, 10 seconds behind.
Como Park’s Charlie Power-Theisen came in sixth, 30 seconds back of Gerres.
Mankato East won the team title, edging Rock Ridge by two points. Highland Park came in sixth.