Luke Delaney leaves the Brainerd Warriors cross country program with the satisfaction that he peaked his senior year.
In last weekend's Class 2A state meet Delaney ran a 5,000-meter time of 16:09, one of the Warriors' top-seven state meet times, and earned all-state honors. He helped Brainerd to a third-place finish, the top showing in program history.
And, during the regular season, he won the first race of his varsity career.
Delaney said he and teammate Thomas Ruttger, who finished ninth, decided how they wanted to leave the start line.
"We knew it would be faster than we were used to but we thought we would be ready for it," Delaney said. "We were used to going out pretty quick all year, so it was not too much of a shock. We wanted to make a push in the middle mile, we both did that, and tried to hang on at the end. I think it worked out well for both of us.
"It was good to go out and accomplish what we wanted to do. We wanted to have a good last race for (coach Dave) Herath and a good run for all the guys. It was a good way to end."
Dave Herath anticipated that Ruttger and Delaney were going to have big races. Both were relaxed, confident and excited.
Sport: Cross country
Other sports: Track and field
Memorable sports achievement: Finishing 16th in state cross country meet
Grade-point average: 3.6
Favorite Web site: www.Dyestat.com
Hobbies: Running, fishing, water sports
Future plans: Attend
college, hopes to run
Athletes he admires: Steve Prefontaine, Lance Armstrong
Parents: Kathy and Doug Delaney
"They went out fast, you almost have to at that meet," Herath said. "I think Luke was 4:54 at the mile, which is about 6-7 seconds faster than he's been out all year.
"At the mile mark he was probably in about 20th, maybe 25th place, and made a pretty nice move. Then he was as high as fourth for a while, around the 2-mile mark. In the last mile I don't know that he faded, it was just that some guys who were ranked all year caught him. It was a little bit of a long course but he still had his best time ever."
Delaney said the Warriors were satisfied with their effort.
"We're most proud that we all worked to get there," he said. "We ran all summer long. Not a lot of teams can say the whole team ran all summer. We just worked every day in practice. We wanted to raise the bar, set the team standard high for future teams."
Delaney, Tyler Rose and Mitch Lorenz headed a senior corps that Herath conceded will be difficult to replace.
"All of our seniors put it all on the line this year," Herath said. "They were the catalysts to make this a special year. Tyler faded a little with some sort of medical deal but he was still the catalyst of the team. Luke kept coming. He was in shape, more confident and was racing faster and faster and faster at the end of the year."
Delaney benefited from a 16th-place finish in the 800-meter run in the 2A state track and field meet in June. This fall he was never lower than Brainerd's No. 3 runner.
"He's one of the kids who put on quite a few miles this summer," Herath said. "It seems like a lot of times hard work pays off. He was not a surprise this year."
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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