In the few months he has been a varsity performer, Justin Grunewald has confirmed that he can run long distances.
Last spring, as a freshman on the Brainerd Warriors track and field team, Grunewald was runner-up in the section meet and placed 16th at state in the 3200-meter run.
He capped his first season as a cross country runner Friday by placing seventh in the Section 8, Class 2A meet at Madden's on Gull Lake. Grunewald claimed the section's final state qualifying spot and helped the Warriors finish fourth.
Grunewald was clocked at 17:00.2 in a race conducted in 34-degree temperatures with a 15-20 mph wind.
Brainerd's Justin Grunewald finished seventh in the Section 8, Class 2A meet at Madden's on Gull Lake Friday and became the first Warrior to qualify for state since Aron Stumvoll in 1999. (Dispatch Photos by Clint Wood)
"The start of it was tough because we were way outside," Grunewald said. "I didn't like that. The whole race was pretty crappy. I couldn't breathe.
"It was cold. I had my hat and gloves on for the first half, and I took them off, but then my hands got cold."
Grunewald, who won two races during the regular season and was runner-up in the Central Lakes Conference meet, edged his clos est competitor by nearly six seconds.
"I was in fifth place most of the race, then I knew I was in seventh," he said. "I turned around and there was no one behind me. I was somewhat stuck trying to catch the guys in front of me, but I kind of lose it when I run like that."
Grunewald became the first Warrior since Aron Stumvoll in 1999 to qualify for state.
"I think he was nervous," Warriors coach Dave Herath said of Grunewald. "He was kind of taken out of his race. He normally likes to be with the leaders.
"We tried something a little bit different. We had him hunt from behind. He still ran well but he and I both think that's maybe not the strategy for him. He needs to go out hard at the start, and keep charging. He gets another week to run so I guess he did well enough."
Also running for the Warriors were Cory Olson in 17th place, Brady Rutman 24th, Chad Anderson 26th, Chris Woodard 32nd, Louis Bedard 35th and Brandon Towne 75th.
Herath thought the Warriors would finish anywhere from second to seventh.
"We could not have run better," he said. "We had three seniors, and two of three ran personal bests. Our other senior has been sick and still ran well. Justin obviously ran well. Cory ran awesome. Chris Woodard, a freshman who's never been out for cross country, was our fifth runner today.
"All of them were in the top 30 out of 105 runners, so that tells you they are running pretty well."
Little Falls placed fifth, led by Andrew Feia in 12th place and Jason Thielen in 13th.
Boys' team scores -- Moorhead 69, Alexandria 76, Sauk Rapids-Rice 84, Brainerd 106, Little Falls 121, Fergus Falls 190, Bemidji 200, St. Cloud Apollo 207, Sartell 227, Detroit Lakes 232, Monticello 264, Rocori 297, St. Cloud Tech 338, Thief River Falls 385, Big Lake 407
State qualifiers -- 1-Adam Kopperud (Moor) 16:33.6, 2-Nathan Henry (SRR) 16:42.7, 3-Ben Klungtvedt (Moor) 16:53.1, 4-Dan Johnson (DL) 16:53.9, 5-Eric Nelsen (Alx) 16:55.8, 6-Matt Hanson (Bem) 16:56.5, 7-Justin Grunewald (Brd) 17:00.2
Other Brainerd results -- 17-Cory Olson 17:23.5, 24-Brady Rutman 17:35.9, 26-Chad Anderson 17:37.6, 32-Chris Woodard 17:43.6, 35-Louis Bedard 17:45.8, 75-Brandon Towne 18:44.9
Little Falls results -- 12-Andrew Feia 17:12.2, 13-Jason Thielen 17:15.9, 21-Jon Stoltman 17:29.7, 28-Jordan Horejsi 17:40.0, 47-John Loscheider 18:04.4, 48-Matthew Davich 18:06.2, 68-Mark Hartwig 18:32.6
Next meet -- Class AA state meet, 10 a.m. Nov. 3, St. Olaf College, Northfield.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.