The five fastest times in Brainerd Warrior boys' cross country running history have been clocked by Kori Kuhn, Mark Mathews, Jim Baillif, Aron Stumvoll and Tim Kidder. All five have been all-state runners.
Brainerd junior Justin Grunewald hopes to follow in their footsteps when he competes in the Class 2A state meet 2 p.m. Saturday at St. Olaf College in Northfield.
Finishing in the top 25 would enable Grunewald to join that elite group of former Warriors as an all-stater.
"His goal is to get under 16 minutes," Warriors coach Dave Herath said. "If the conditions are nice, it's muddy there now, he certainly has a chance to do that."
Grunewald was bothered by a sideache on his way to a fourth-place finish in the section. If that doesn't happen again, he has a shot to achieve his goal.
"My legs haven't been tired all year," Grunewald said. "I hope to go out with the top 15.
"I've put in a lot of miles. After we taper, I should be right there and should be as fast as ever, go with whoever wants to go."
As a sophomore, Grunewald finished 32nd in his first state cross country meet. He also has participated in two state track and field meets.
"Justin's a big-meet kid," Herath said. "This will be his fourth state meet. It seems in every state meet he's felt more confident and has done better and better. We hope the fourth time is the charm."
Grunewald is confident his previous state country experience will be beneficial.
"I know what the course looks like," he said. "I see it every night in my sleep."
Grunewald said his strategy will be to leave the starting line faster than usual but not get caught with those running too fast.
"I want to be anywhere from 10th to 15th," he said, "and in the last mile and a half put a push on and take out whoever I can in the home stretch."
Three Flyers qualify
All three Little Falls runners who advanced to state this year did not qualify last fall.
Last week, senior Jason Thielen was sixth in the section, sophomore Jon Stoltman was seventh and senior Andrew Feia ninth.
This will be Thielen's third state meet. He was 25th and all-state as a sophomore and 30th as a freshman.
Stoltman and Feia will be making their second state trips. Stoltman was 56th as an eighth-grader and Feia 83rd as a sophomore.
Flyers coach Jeff Massmann said the trio will have to run in the neighborhood of 16:20 to be all-state.
"That's kind of fast for them but I think they can fall anywhere between 20th and 40th place," Massmann said. "You hope they're on the upper end of that and make all-state. But you can run a very good race and still finish 40th."
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