Alexandria's Drew Paradis and Brainerd's Thomas Ruttger have been running against each other since junior high and have taken turns winning.
Ruttger beat Paradis in last week's Central Lakes Conference jamboree. In Thursday's Run for Your Melon meet at Northland Arboretum, it was Paradis' turn to finish first with a 5,000-meter time of 17:02.
Paradis, ranked third in Class 2A, repeated as champion. Ruttger, ranked fifth, followed in second place at 17:21.
"Drew and I go a long way back," Ruttger said. "Ever since sixth grade, junior high, we've been running against each other, battling back and forth.
"He's a good runner. There's a reason he's ranked third in the state."
Brainerd's Thomas Ruttger crossed the finish line second in the Run for Your Melon cross country meet Thursday at Northland Arboretum.
Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
BHS coach Dave Herath said there's a reason Paradis and Ruttger are ranked.
"We had our jamboree meet last week and Thomas handed it to Drew pretty good and Drew was coming off a high-mileage week," Herath said. "Well, it was Thomas' turn this week and Drew turned the tables.
"They're comparable runners. Thomas was ninth at state last year, Drew was seventh. They're top-flight runners and good friends. It's kind of a friendly rivalry.
"It was a good race for Thomas. He said his legs felt a little bit heavy. That's to be expected this time of year."
Highlights: Alexandria's Drew Paradis was first, followed by Brainerd's Thomas Ruttger and Jimmy Dean.
Next: Brainerd in Lucky Lindy Invite at Little Falls 4:15 p.m. Sept. 11.
Paradis helped the Cardinals, coached by Mark Nelsen, to the team title with 26 points, 15 fewer than second-place Brainerd.
"Mark Nelson has been coaching since when I was in high school," Herath said. "He knows his stuff. He's had multiple state championship teams.
"They're up this year. They're definitely a threat to win the section, along with Moorhead."
Brainerd's Jimmy Dean finished third at 17:57 followed by teammates Chris Knutson (ninth) and Aaron Thompson (11th).
"I felt pretty strong through the whole race," Dean said. "I wasn't quite as fast as I wanted to go, but I felt strong.
"The top two guys just kind of slowly pulled away. They're fast runners."
Dean's finish was his highest in the Run for Your Melon.
"Jimmy ran a real nice race to be third," Herath said. "He looked very solid. He started out a little slower and built his way up into it."
Team scores: 1-Alexandria 26, 2-Brainerd 41, 3-St. Cloud Tech 69, 4-Pillager 110
Individual winner: Drew Paradis (Alex) 17:02
Brainerd results: 2-Thomas Ruttger 17:21, 3-Jimmy Dean 17:57; 9-Aaron Knutson 19:09, 11-Aaron Thompson 19:23, 16-Brad Wolhart 19:40, 19-Riley Nelson 20:08, 20-Jeff Emery 20:25
Pillager results: 12-Jesse Krause 19:25, 23-Dylan Neururer 22:38, 24-Dustin Maurer 22:54, 25-Trevor Rohloff 23:41, 26-Tony Davison 25:39
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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