Jimmy Dean didn't have a clue how things were going to go Thursday.
Sure, he had run in the season-opening meet at Northland Arboretum in Brainerd the last three seasons, but this season Dean is the guy.
The former state runner didn't disappoint as he paced the four-team field to win with a time of 17:35.
"I just wanted to take it out nice and easy and see who was there," said Dean, "then slowly increase the pace starting at the mile.
"I was confident and decided to pick it up from there and decided to go for it."
Brainerd's Jimmy Dean sped toward the finish line in Thursday's cross country meet at Northland Arboretum. Dean won the race with a 17:35. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
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As a team, the Warriors placed second behind Alexandria.
Fellow senior Chris Knutson finished third in 17:52 and Riley Nelsen surprised many with his fifth-place run of 18:35.
"As a freshman Riley was on our varsity and showed flashes of things, but he was a ninth-grader running against some bigger boys," said Warrior head coach Dave Herath. "This summer, he finally got some training in and he's gotten taller and stronger. The way he's looked in practice the first few weeks we figured he'd be running near the lead, but his time was nice for our course."
Bradley Wolhart finished 14th and Alek Rudstrom 15th to round out Brainerd's scoring.
"We're waiting to see," Dean said about the team as a whole. "We need to get a pack, a pack of five guys. If that happens then we can be good."
Herath agreed and said running against a ranked opponent like Alexandria was a good start to the season.
"Going into this meet we knew we had three solid runners at the top, it just all depends on the fourth and fifth runners, whoever they turn out to be," said Herath. "If we're going to compete we need someone to step up, but that's what the season is for. This was our starting point."
Brainerd was 11 points behind Alexandria, but 26 ahead of St. Cloud Tech. Pillager, led by Matt Neururer's 22nd place, ran just three athletes.
Key: Jimmy Dean was first, Chris Knutson third and Riley Nelsen fifth to help Brainerd to second place
Next: Brainerd at Bemidji Invite Sept. 11.
For now, Dean will savor the victory to start his senior season.
"It feels good to know I'm close to where I want to be," he said. "This gets me confident for the rest of the season."
Team scores: 1-Alexandria 29, 2-Brainerd 38, 3-St. Cloud Tech 64, Pillager inc.
Individual winner: Jimmy Dean (Brd) 17:35
Brainerd results: 3-Chris Knutson 17:52, 5-Riley Nelsen 18:35, 14-Bradley Wolhart 19:43, 15-Alek Rudstrom 19:54, 18-James McLean 20:19, 19-Jack Hegarty 20:21
Pillager results: 22-Matt Neururer 21:41, 23-Isaac Jacobson 22:54, 24-Dylan Neururer 23:12
Brainerd JV results: 5-Alec Haug 20:29, 6-Zean Baker 20:37 ,10-Jeffrey Emery 21:22, 11-Aaron Thompson 21:24, 12-Damon Grilz 21:26, 19-Cuyler VanDerwerker 22:33, 20-Justin Warling 22:34, 22-Corbin Campbell 23:02, 23-Andrew Solseth 23:06, 33-Jordan Schmaltz 25:55, 35-Timothy Nelson 26:44
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.
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