What started with a conversation turned into reality.
Before the start of this year’s cross country season, Margaret Stokman asked Crosby-Ironton Rangers assistant coach Roger Twigg one question. That question turned into a goal and that goal became a success for the freshman runner.
The question: “How do I get to state?”
“She came in Day One, ‘What do I have to do to get to state?’ and she’s worked that way all year long,” said Twigg. “She just kept getting better all year long. She went as strong as she could go, whether it was practice or a meet. She just pushed herself. She was always near the front of the group. She had a mind-set.”
That mind-set culminated in a time of 16:03.8 at the Section 7-1A meet Oct. 25 at Cloquet. That time was good enough for sixth place and put her in the state meet.
“It was really exciting, but also hard not to have the team going with you,” Stokman said. “I really couldn’t believe it. I had it playing in my head. I knew 12th place would go to state and when they told me I was in sixth place it was really exciting.”
Stokman wanted to run as close to her personal record as she could and stay near the front pack. Then it was just a matter of running her best.
“I know, as coaches, we’re really impressed with her drive this year,” said C-I head coach Erica Perpich. “Last year she was doing both tennis and cross country. This year she came in focused and determined. She had that mind-set of putting in the work during the offseason and it paid off. Roger and I are both pleased and happy to see her advance to state.”
Stokman was the top area finisher at the Mid-State Conference meet with a third-place time of 15:55. It was then she knew state was a realistic goal.
“I asked Mr. Twigg early on what it would take to make it to state this year,” Stokman said. “He said as long as I keep training and working hard. He also said if I got all-conference then we’ll talk more about it.”
Stokman followed up her all-conference performance with a third-place 16:13 at the Proctor Invite Oct. 16.
Saturday, Stokman will compete in her second state tournament, but first since her seventh-grade year when she qualified as a member of the C-I girls team.
“When she was there before she was young and she had no pressure on her,” Twigg said. “The whole team was there, but that’s not the case this time. She’s really pretty good at blocking out the peripheral stuff or all the other outside distractions.
“She’ll handle being down there by herself well, but it’s not going to be easy when you’re at the start line all by yourself. If anyone can handle it, though it’s Margaret.”
Stokman’s personal-best time is 15:52. Twigg wants her to run 15:51 at state. He doesn’t care where that places her, he just wants her to keep improving.
“I’m really happy with the season so far,” she said. “Last season, coming in halfway through, I was excited. This was a different season. I wasn’t as nervous. I just wanted to run and do my best. I’m really happy.”
Other notable performances:
Cross country: Emma Schmitz, Wadena-Deer Creek, finished ninth at the Section 8-1A meet to qualify for state.
Volleyball: Bethany Cressman, Lake Region, finished with 69 digs, 41 kills, 18.5 blocks, eight set assists and four ace serves in three games to earn most valuable player honors at the Minnesota Association of Christian Schools state tournament.
Caitlin Volkmann, Wadena-Deer Creek, finished with 12 kills, 11 digs, 6 blocks, one ace serve and one set assist against Staples-Motley, and accumulated 15 kills, 15 digs, four blocks, three set assists and one ace serve against Hawley.
Emily Miron, Wadena-Deer Creek, finished with 14 kills, 11 digs and four blocks against Staples-Motley, and added 17 kills, nine digs and seven blocks against Hawley.
Abby Palmer, Pequot Lakes, finished with 24 digs, 11 kills, one block and one ace serve against East Grand Forks.
Swimming: Jalen Beachy, Staples-Motley, set two Mid-State Conference records in the 50-yard freestyle and 100 backstroke at the Mid-State Conference meet.