In just two seasons, Justin Grunewald has established himself as one of the best runners in Brainerd Warriors cross country history.
Last week, he qualified for his second Class 2A state meet with a fourth-place finish in the section race.
Grunewald (16:52) finished behind only Ben Klungtvedt of Moorhead (16:30.7), Luke Bryant of Alexandria (16:38.1) and Nate Haeny of Sauk Rapids (16:50.2).
"Justin was right there for second place," Warriors coach Dave Herath said. "He led the main pack for almost the entire race. The kid from Alexandria outsprinted him."
A sideache hindered Grunewald's chances of winning.
"I was all alone in second for a ways," Grunewald said. "At about the 2-mile mark I was gaining on (Klungtvedt), got a bad sideache and dropped back. Other than the sideache, it was a perfect race. It was a tough course, and I had a good time."
Grunewald won four of the nine races in which he competed this fall and was fourth in the Central Lakes Conference meet.
"He's always been in there," Herath said. "There was only one race he hasn't been in the top eight, at the University of Minnesota. He was 22nd out of 500-some runners."
Justin Grunewald profile
Sport -- Cross country running
Year -- Junior
Age -- 16
Height -- 5-foot-9
Weight -- 135 pounds
Other sports -- Nordic skiing, track and field
Grade-point average -- 3.95
Memorable sports achievement -- Qualifying for state as freshman in track and field
Favorite subject -- Biology
Favorite food -- Caren Bedard's cookies
Favorite movie -- "South Park"
Hobbies -- Socializing with friends, running
Future plans -- Run in college
Athlete he admires -- Classmates Sam Gervais, Justin Mueller
Parents -- Joan and Bill Grunewald
Grunewald said his goal in the conference meet was to beat Little Falls runners Jason Thielen, Jon Stoltman and Andrew Feia, all of whom later qualified for state.
"I led two other guys to catch them, and we caught them," Grunewald said. "Toward the end I kind of lost focus. I put a little push on but I didn't go with them. I probably should have been with them. I just wanted to be all-conference."
Haeny won the race (16:19), followed by Bryant (16:23), John Marschel of Sartell (16:30) and Grunewald (16:32).
Herath said this has been another learning season for Grunewald as he gains cross country experience.
"The neat thing about Justin is he's a thinker," Herath said. "He evaluates his races afterward. We spend quite a bit of time talking about what went on. I think he's learning more and more each race. It's all coming together at the end of the season."
Other notable efforts by Warriors:
Jenna Roberts, girls' cross country running, was fifth in the section.
Chris Klabo, football, rushed for 148 yards and three touchdowns and threw a TD pass vs. Cambridge.
Fred Weiss, football, had 26 tackles vs. Cambridge.
Chad Weiss, football, had 20 tackles and a fumble recovery vs. Cambridge.
Jake Phillips, football, had 19 tackles and two interceptions vs. Cambridge.
Christina Roberts, swimming, won one event and was on two first-place relays in the CLC meet.
Erica Campbell, swimming, won one event and was on a first-place relay in the CLC meet.
The 200 free relay of Katie Diiro, Jenny Wentworth, Amanda Bateman and Roberts won the CLC title.
The 400 free relay of Campbell, Bateman, Krystal Halverson and Roberts won the CLC title.
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