BAXTER - It started one frigid January afternoon in the halls of Brainerd High School.
A group of students came together to participate in the annual fitness triathlon class offered every spring semester at BHS.
Through nearly four months of training, four months of sweat and determination, four months of bonding and motivating, the class moved from a group of individuals going to gym class to a group of friends supporting and competing for and against their personal goals and against each other Saturday in the culmination of the class, the running of a complete triathlon.
In the end Zach Schneider was the top male finisher with a time of 2:37.39 and Sadie Panzer was the top female finisher at 2:54.32.
Zach Schneider was the overall winner.
As the event concluded it was neither the order of finish or the single physical education credit the class is worth that proved to be the most important accomplishment of the day as both paled in comparison to the accomplishment that each participant achieved Saturday.
From top to bottom as the months of hard work and perseverance culminated with accomplishments of goals set and the completion of the event each student ended the day as a winner.
The class was instructed by teachers Mike Boran and Ellen Fussy who through the semester took their students from the seemingly surreal idea of actually participating in a triathlon amid the snow and ice in a Minnesota winter to the end result of each individual being at the pinnacle of mental and physical preparation as the event began early Saturday morning.
This journey from beginning to end proved not only was rewarding to the participants but to both instructors as well as the months and time they invested in their students came to a climax with the opportunity to watch them persevere and succeed.
"It's very emotional," Fussy said. "Throughout the semester each one of those kids had different struggles. Some kids had sports in the winter and were training for that sport and this and it was the same thing with the kids in spring sports. From the beginning when you have kids that came in having never really done anything like this and to see them succeed and achieve their goals is just emotional and so exhilarating it's really hard to describe."
Sadie Panzer was the girls' winner.
"There is a whole lot of excitement for the kids and us," Boran said. "It's hard to describe how you feel. The whole time from the beginning of the semester until Saturday it's just a neat experience to have and watch a group of kids who really want to come and work hard. More often than not you can't really say that about any class where everyone comes in everyday and works hard and really cares about it."
The day began as the first of four flights of triathletes took off on a mile swim at approximately 7:30 a.m. Schneider was the top male finisher in the swim with a time of 24:49. The girls' top time belonged to Panzer as she set an event record in the swim with a time of 22:47, topping the previous record of 23:29.
The next event was a 25-mile bike ride, which was a change from the 50-mile bike of previous years. As the riders competed, various Baxter city employees and police officers monitored the route to ensure the participants' safety.
Each athlete also was accompanied by a team of friends and family, who lined the course, offering words of encouragement as well as energy boosting snacks and beverages.
Despite suffering a crash part of the way through the course the top male biker was Evan Impola, who recovered to post a time of 1:20.20. Panzer was again the top finisher for the girls with a time of 1:27.53.
The triathlon concluded with a 5-kilometer run, again cut down from the 10km distance of previous years. The run ended with Schneider recording the top time of 40:33 in addition to securing to the top overall time. Jessie Marolt was the fastest female runner with time of 50:08 and finished second overall behind Panzer with a time of 2:55.21.
Scott Padrnos rounded a curve in the cycling leg of the Brainerd High School Fitness Triathlon on Saturday. He placed 10th overall. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Looking back on her day Panzer was relatively surprised about finishing with the fastest female time.
"(Winning the event) really was not a goal of mine at the start," she said. "I had a goal to set the swim record and finish in under three hours. When I got through the bike and the swim and realized that I was ahead I started thinking about pushing myself a little more."
Of the experience of the months of training, Panzer said, "At the beginning just going through runs and bike rides it really didn't sink in that this was something that was actually going to happen. But within the last few weeks it starts to hit you that you are really going to run a triathlon. In the end, though, for all of us in the class this was such an amazing experience and an amazing accomplishment. We were all working for this one goal and all formed a really strong bond and each of us were cheering for and supporting everyone else. It was just amazing."
Tyler Rose finished second overall for the boys with a time of 2:38.34. Bronson Shepherd fought off cramping during the run to take third with a time of 2:42.01. Tika Klauk rounded out the girls' top three finishers, posting a time of 3:05.27.
Efforts to reach Schneider Sunday night were unsuccessful.
Boys overall results: Zach Schneider 2:37.39, Tyler Rose 2:38.34, Bronson Shepherd 2:42.01, Pat Mangan 2:42.51, Evan Impola 2:43.11, Dan McFarland 2:49.26, Josh Woodard 2:53.05, Jake Westphal 2:53.47, Scott Padrnos 2:54.39, Ben Ambroz 2:54.54, Michael McColgan 2:57.00, Turner Johnson 3:03.46, Justin Bock 3:05.12, Nick Lundgren 3:05.18, Alex Korte 3:09.35, Micah Gustafson 3:12.22, Eric Edman 3:14.06, Russ Riener 3:14.54, Ethan Sweet 3:20.46, Andrew Jay 3:21.36, Travis Storhaug 3:27.25, Zack Koering 3:41.17
Monica Campbell finished the running portion of the Brainerd High School Fitness Triathlon on the Forestview Middle School track Saturday. She finished 24th overall. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Girls overall results: Sadie Panzer 2:54.32, Jessie Marolt 2:55.21, Tika Klauk 3:05.27, Gina Padrnos 3:05.59, Cassy Tomlinson 3:07.58, Connie Holmes 3:09.47, Leah Hight 3:12.19, Monica Campbell 3:12.47, Sam Smith 3:15.08, Jessica Reese 3:17.51, Lucy Sweeny 3:21.09, Leah Knutson 3:21.32, Amber Sabir 3:24.53, Jaque Doucette 3:42.36, April Harting 3:44.15, Amanda Svoboda 3:44.32, Anna Tadych 3:45.26, Kim Miller 3:45.26, Kaila Hauglie 3:45.26, Cierra Johnson 3:49.26, Katie Olson 3:51.22, Kaitlyn Hines 3:51.22, Natalie Reponen 3:57.15, Ashlee Hanson 3:59.46, Alexia Staples 4:02.27
Boys swim: 1-Schneider 24:29, 2-Mangan 27:16, 3-Shepherd 29:12, 4-Rose 29:27, 5-McColgan 30:14
Girls swim: 1-Panzer 22:47, 2-Reese 23:41, 3-Hight 25:21, 4-Padrnos 29:05, 5-Campbell 29:53
Boys bike: 1-Evan Impola 1:20.20, 2-McFarland 1:21.17, 3-Shepherd 1:21.49, 4-Ambroz 1:24.26, 5-Rose 1:24.49
Girls bike: 1-Panzer 1:27.53, 2-Sweeny 1:29.51, 3-Holmes 1:30.05, 4-Marolt 1:30.55, 5-Smith 1:30.58
Boys run: 1-Schneider 40:33, 2-Rose 40:47, 3-Padrnos 45:16, 4-Shepherd 47:05, 5-Impola 47:30
Girls run: 1-Marolt 50:08, 2-Klauk 56:14, 3-Tomlinson 57:07, 4-Padrnos 58:27, 5-Panzer 59:16
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