Olson makes all-state, Sophomore 21st in Class A; Prigge climbs to 40th in girls race

by Tom Coombe
Luke Olson felt better - and it showed.
Running at full strength, the Ely sophomore put together his best performance yet at exactly the right time: at last weekend’s state cross country meet.
Olson earned all-state recognition by taking 21st overall in the Class A competition at Northfield.
Olson’s performance was part of a big day at state for the Wolves, as sophomore James Schwinghamer took 47th in the boys race while senior Ryne Prigge closed out her prep career with a personal-best time and a 40th-place finish among Class A girls.
“Everybody was happy,” said Ely Head Coach Jayne Dusich. “It was a great day for us.”
At the Section 7A meet in late-October, Olson was sixth and qualified for state but was a bit under the weather.
Schwinghamer also punched a ticket to state at sections, but like Olson didn’t feel well and had an off day.
Dusich said that mental preparation played a role in the turnaround Saturday on a cool, damp day on the campus of St. Olaf.
“I knew Luke had a good chance,” said Dusich. “He just had a bad race at sections and mentally didn’t think he could do it. They both felt awful at sections, and once they got that out of their mind they had a great day.”
Olson was 55th in Class A a year ago, but he got out strong Saturday and kept pace with the state’s elite.
The three-sport athlete still had a full head of steam as he crossed the finish line in 16:42.2, about a minute off the pace set by state champion Matt Steiger, a senior from LaCrescent.
By taking 21st in a field of about 180, Olson gained lofty recognition as an all-state performer. The only 7A runners he trailed were third-place Geno Uhrbom of Greenway and North Shore’s Jake Paron, who was 15th.
Schwinghamer made his second straight state appearance and had a solid day, taking 47th in 17:08.6. Prigge, who took 68th last season, made a big jump in her cross country finale and climbed all the way to 40th place.
Perhaps as impressive was her time, as she cracked the 20-minute mark at 19:56.7.
“That was her best race,” said Dusich. “She wanted to get under 20 minutes and she did. I showed her the time from last year and where she was, and it’s only 12 seconds difference but look at how many places. With the time she ran this year, last year she would have been in the 30s. She just had a great race.”
Ninth-grader Tammy Wolfgram of Math and Science Academy (Woodbury) won the state crown in 17:31.6, while Mesabi East sophomore Ava Hill placed eighth (19:07.5).