With the rate it's going, the only true threat the Muskie cross-country team has is itself.
The black-and-gold put in an abundance of great performances at the Hial Pike meet in International Falls last Tuesday and followed that up with another stellar showing at the “Turkey Trot” races in Dryden on Thursday.
Fort High recorded multiple top 20 and podium finishes and are tracking extremely well as they had 26 runners qualify for the NWOSSAA championships next Tuesday and Wednesday (Oct. 22-23) in Thunder Bay.
“No doubt this has been a tough training week for Muskie runners,” Muskie coach John Dutton said on Friday.
"Coming off a hard practice on Monday, the team ran a challenging, muddy course in International falls on Tuesday, practiced again on Wednesday, before traveling to Dryden to run the 'Turkey Trot' on Thursday.
“But, all season, we have been taking things one day at a time, treating each race as a training run and looking at every workout as an opportunity to improve,” he reasoned.
“The running season is short, so to be competitive at NWOSSAA, and then hopefully at OFSAA, resting or letting up because we are tired is not an option,” he stressed.
“The team ran well this week and we look forward to a week off from racing so we can focus on preparation for NWOSSAA.”
Run well they absolutely did.
The Muskies shone brightly again at the “Turkey Trot” races in Dryden last Thursday, which included Trent Wilson winning his fourth straight race.
Wilson topped the 49-runner field with a time of 17:51 in the mixed 5K race.
Owen Riches took fourth (18:59), followed by James Furlong in seventh (19:55) to round out the top 10.
Greta Fedoruk took 12th spot (20:51), Caden McGinnis was 13th (20:54), Leah Seguin was 14th (20:59), Alexia Gate was 15th (21:06), Maverick Morriseau was 16th (21:50), Tori Toriseva was 18th (22:23), while Corbin Riches rounded out the top 20 showing for the Muskies by winding up 19th (22:30).
Emma Toriseva finished just shy of crackign the top 20, placing 21st with a time of 22:47.
That was followed by Ashlyn Beck in 24th (23:10), with Chloe Dolyny (23:15), Montana Plasky (23:21), Jaida Norris (23:40), Matthew Watts (24:19), Jackson Marchant (24:23), Braydon Christiansen (24:31), and Lucius Medicine all following suit.
Alacea Yerxa wound up 34th (25:49), followed by Taylor Meekis in 39th (29:11), Rylee Booth in 40th (30:01), Nick Larson in 41st (30:44), Arianna Hyatt in 42nd (31:40), and Lillie McKenzie in 43rd (32:18) to round out the top 50 finishes by Fort High.
Miranda Wilson had the top Muskie showing in the girls' 3K, nabbing silver with a time of 14:17 in the 42-runner field.
She was followed closely by Peyton Dolyny (14:18), who snared bronze, while Maddy Bliss wound up seventh (15:08).
Addyson Greer of the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints (Kenora) nabbed gold in that race (14:13).
Alex Booth was tops among the Muskies in the boys' 3K race, placing eighth with a time of 14:24 in the 54-runner field.
He was followed by Thre Windigo in 10th (14:29) and Lucas Bailey in 11th (14:34).
Carson Saunders wound up 18th (15:36) while Hunter McLean was 22nd (15:58) and Jack Davis was 25th (16:19).
“Dryden is a course that our athletes all love to run over every other challenge this season,” Dutton noted.
"There is lots of bush running, lots of single lane trail, and lots of mud, but our runners have traditionally done well there and my veterans always look forward to the 'Turkey Trot'.
“Having just come off a tough run in International Falls, I didn't know what to expect for times,” Dutton admitted.
“But we had a great day! We had 38 runners competing in Dryden and came home with nearly as many PRs and a bus full of pumped up athletes.”
At the Hial Pike in the Falls last Tuesday, the was the Muskie junior boys' and girls' squads who stole the spotlight.
Both teams shone brightly for Fort High put in some great performances against Minnesota schools.
The Muskies swept the top four spots in the junior varsity girls' 3.2-K run.
That was led by Leah Seguin taking gold (14:14), followed by Alexia Gate (14:45.40), Miranda Wilson of Donald Young School (15:11.20), and Chloe Dolyny (15:22).
As a team, Fort High also topped the junior varsity girls' standings with a total time of 1:17:15.20 and 15 points.
Deer River//Northland snared silver with 48 points.
In the junior varsity boys' 3.2-K race, meanwhile, Wilson cruised another first-place finish in clocking in with a time of 11:53.30 to lead the 69-runner field.
Maverick Morrisseau wound up seventh (13:41.60), followed by Caden McGinnis in eighth (13:49.70), to round out the top 10 finishes for the Muskies.
Fort High claimed gold as a team in the division with a total time of 1:10:20.90 and 59 points.
Hibbing HS was second with 61 points while Ely HS snared bronze (70).
Greta Fedoruk had the best showing for the black-and-gold in the varsity girls' 5K race, placing 27th with a time of 23:38.40.
That was followed closely by Ashlyn Beck in 29th (23:51.10).
And in the varsity boys' 5K, Owen Riches had the top Muskie showing in winding up 41st in the 107-runner field with a time of 20:33.50.
James Furlong was just behind him with a time of 20:34.60.
“Hial Pike was a tough race. Unlike our other races, it is run on a golf course, so it looks like it should be our easiest,” said Dutton
"But wide open races like this are unfamiliar territory to our runners and can put us at a slight disadvantage.
“None of our other races have 100-plus participants, and none have a steady stream of runners that you can see throughout the duration of the race,” he added.
As for next week's NWOSSAA championships, Dutton is expecting his squad to do well and he is over the moon with how his runners have grown this season individually.
“All 26 of our Grade 9-12 runners will be competing at the NWOSSAA championships," he noted. ”We have runners in all six races.
“We still have one more week of hardcore training in preparation for Thunder Bay, but I believe we are ready for the challenge,” he enthused.
“Our chances? It's exciting to me as a coach to see Fort High represented in every race, and to know that we may play a role in the outcome of each one.”
OFSAA is slated for Nov. 2 in Sudbury.