Easy to pull for Blake Stoks
Blake Stoks had just finished the most important race of his life. He knew he’d secured a place in next week’s Class A State Tournament.
Yet, there he was at the finish line, shaking hands with every competitor that came after him, offering them encouragement.
The sophomore from Porter didn’t leave it at that. He took a hug from Minneota senior Sean Dilley and said, “Sean is really a team guy. It was people like him that pushed me and made me better.”
Stoks, who finished 11th overall in the sections in 17:43.8 acknowledged that, “I really prepared myself mentally,” and he worked so hard with his conditioning and road work that, “This year I knew I could do it.”
“This was a bitter, sweet moment,” said Dilley, who while finishing his injury-riddled running career in 56th place, was feeling the sting of the end, while celebrating Stoks victory.
“Since Blake was a sixth grader we’ve taken him under our wing and encouraged him,” said Dilley.
It was Dilley and teammate Alexander Full, among others, who saw the potential in Stoks even way back then. “He’s really a hard worker, he runs with us, is a great kid and has great respect for the upper class men,” Dilley said.
Stoks ascension to the Canby-Minneota leadership roll started some time ago when he watched his peers such as Anthony Wollum, Jalyn Ufkin and others before him.
Yet, “I pretty much am trying to be my own runner.”
If anyone prepared himself before a race it was Stoks. “I kinda knew who I had to beat so I stuck with the guys I could run with, then when I saw my opportunity, I took off,” he said.
The exciting part for Stoks is that after qualifying for state, he says, “That will be the fun part. It’s special and I’ll have fun with it.”
Yet, he knows the best may be yet to come. He has two more years — years in which he expects to see young group of runners like eighth grader Kolton Duis (finished 42nd) make Canby-Minneota a strong boys’ team.
“The future is bright for Canby-Minneota Boys CC and we owe it to our upperclassmen leaders for working to mold this team into a true team Today was a great day and we are going to miss our seniors, Alexander Full, Sean Dilley, Jack Nemitz, and Jordan Fairchild. However, we are also excited to see what the future holds,” said Coach Allyson Pesek.
“We have a lot of eighth graders and they’re really good,” said Stoks. So, like Wollum, Ufkin, Dilley and Alexander did for him, Stoks hopes to do for the upcoming youngsters. “I hope to be the leader, to coach them. It’s a circle you know,” Stoks said, showing a satisfying grin.
CANBY-MINNEOTA finished sixth overall as a team as Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd used their “running in a pack” style to win the title with 30 points with Redwood Valley also qualifying for state with 92 points.
Here are the team scores: 1. Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd 30; 2. Redwood Valley 92; 3. Pipestone Area 93; 4. Mt. Lake Area-Comfrey 155; 5. Jackson County Central 164;6. Canby-Minneota 169; 7. Luverne 172; 8. Montevideo 211; 9. Windom Area 246; 10. Murray County Central 311; 11. Ortonville 318; 12. Heron Lake-Okabena 337;13. BOLD/Buffalo Lake-Hector 344; 14. Springfield/Cedar Mountain 384; 15. Southwest Minnesota Christian/Edgerton 428; 16. Central Minnesota Christian, Willmar 469; 17. Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 494; 18. Lakeview 504; 19. Wabasso 520.
Canby-Minneota’s second finisher was Minneota sophomore runner Tristin Biershenk in 38th place at 18:41.1. Alexander Full was next in 40th place at 18:38.2 with Duis 42nd in 18:49.8 and Eric Carrasco fifth in 43rd place at 18:53.01.
Lac qui Parle Valley, which won the first three spots, won their fifth straight Section 3A title and are headed back to the state tournament. Zeke Sather won the event in 16:36.1 with Griffin Johnson second at 16:53.4 with Mike Kvaal third at 16:59.3.
The top 10 were: 1. Sather; 2. Johnson; 3. Kvaal; 4. Mitchell Buerkle, Springfield; 5. Jayson Peyerl, Redwood Valley; 6. Mason Clark, Redwood Valley; 7. Payton Sterud, Lac qui Parle Valley-Dawson-Boyd; 8. Bertram Munk, YME; 9. Brayden Tofteland, Luverne and 10 .Seth Lingen, Pipestone Area.
Besides LqPV-D-B and Redwood Valley runners, also qualifying for state were: Buerkle, Munk, Tofteland, Stoks, Caden Strasser of Pipestone, Nathan New of Ortonville and Patrick Green of Windom Area.
Canby-Minneota’s boys also earned a “Silver Award” for their academics.