PIERZ -- Last year Jamie Talberg realized how good she was. She hasn't stopped improving since.
The freshman cross country runner for the Pierz Pioneers captured the Central Minnesota Conference title with a time of 16:10.
"She won that pretty easily," said Pierz coach Ray Zimney. "Basically, she went to the front immediately and set the pace. A girl from Rockford came on late in the race but finished seven seconds back."
This is Talberg's second year on the varsity. Last year she was the No. 2 runner for Pierz until the Subsection 5, Class 1A meet. She finished fifth. She turned around the next week and finished fourth at the Section 5 meet to advance to state.
At state, the then-eighth-grader finished 22nd to earn all-state honors.
"It was a little bit of a surprise," Zimney said of Talberg advancing to state. "I always thought she could do it.
"Kaley Jensen was our No. 1 runner for most of the year last year. Jamie would run with her, but Kaley would out kick her at the end. They both went out in the top five in the first half-mile loop at sections. Kaley faded and Jamie just stayed there. It was one of those things where she realized she can run with those people."
This year Talberg hasn't finished out of the top 10 all year and most of the time she's been in the top five or has won the race. Zimney said she's picked up where she left off last year.
Most of her times on corresponding courses have been faster than last year.
"She's not particularly fast, although she runs a respectable half-mile," said Zimney. "She doesn't have sprinter speed, but she has a good kick at the end and can hold off people. Her strength is attacking the course."
At this year's subsection meet, Talberg finished fourth but was ill. Zimney said he wasn't sure his top runner was going to compete.
"She gutted it out and I think going in she probably was expected to be second but she was sick," Zimney said. "Hopefully, she will be fine come sections because our section is loaded."
Along with the confidence gained last year, another factor in Talberg's success has been an injury free season.
The freshman would like to enjoy three more years like this. With no seniors, one junior and three freshmen on its team, Pierz could be one of the favorites for the next few years. Although the top runner, Talberg leaves the leadership role to Jensen, the oldest runner.
"Jamie lets her running speak for itself," said Zimney. "She's been our No. 1 runner all year. Last year she didn't take that over until the subsection. This year she started out No. 1 and has been there the whole year."
Other notable performances:
Tennis -- Ashley Meschke won the Subsection 7, Class 1A tournament, beating her sister Val 6-1, 6-1.
Volleyball -- Pierz's Allyson Kloss had 11 kills and four blocks vs. Hinckley-Finlayson, eight kills and four blocks vs. Long Prairie-Grey Eagle and four kills and five blocks vs. Eden Valley-Watkins.
Verndale's Crystal Schoon had 25 digs, two kills, two ace serves, two blocks, three set assists vs. Menahga and19 digs, three kills, three blocks, two set assists vs. Henning.
Aitkin's Sarah Just had 11 blocks, 10 kills and nine digs vs. Ogilvie.
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