Grimm’s career also comes to an end at state, while Elks 4x400 girls relay takes 14th
by Jake Andersen
Elk River’s Luke Gustafson and Zimmerman’s Cheresa Bouley made a pact with one another that they’d take a photo together once they became Section 7AA 1600-meter run champions.
The Nordic ski teammates were able to do that and share one final high school sporting event with each other.
“I’m thankful that L.G. and I got to share this experience together,” Bouley said. “It was cool that we both made in the 1600-meter run and got to represent our district as distance runners.”
“It was so awesome to share this experience with Cheresa,” Gustafson said. “Cheresa is a crazy good athlete and I’m glad I’ve gotten to know her.”
Gustafson and Bouley nearly closed out impressive, multi-sport athletic career the same way too, finishing 10th and 11th place in the 1600, respectively, on June 8 at Hamline University. Gustafson clocked in at 4:21.85, while Bouley timed in at 5:17.16.
Both seniors were looking to finish with a faster time and better place to earn All-State honors with a top-nine finish, but they felt they gave everything they had in order to give themselves a chance, especially on a hot day with temperatures in the high 80s, low 90s.
“I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed in being one place away from All-State, but there’s nothing more I could have done. I also was a little disappointed because I missed (the school record) by one second. That took to heart a little and stung, but it was a hot day, and maybe given more favorable conditions it could have been done,” said Gustafson, who passed up three runners during the final stretch to secure a top-10 finish. “But, what is done is done and I’m happy with my placing at state amongst the field I ran against. The mile was the most stacked distance race by far with all the top guys in the state battling it out. It could have gone to six different guys depending on the day.”
“I am happy with how I raced at state, even though I didn’t meet my goal of being in the top half,” Bouley said. “Just making it there was an accomplishment and I am so happy that I had the opportunity.”
The state meet was extra special for Bouley, who had made three state cross-country and Nordic ski meets during her high school career but had yet to make a state track meet until this season. In the process, she became the first Zimmerman athlete to qualify for state in three sports.
As for Gustafson, this was his second state track appearance. He’s also made three state cross-county meets. He couldn’t quite make state in Nordic ski, but he was one of the team’s top skiers last season.
Both acknowledged that ending their high school careers at the state track meet was the perfect way to go out, ending a part of their life they’ll never forget.
“I’m really excited to be Zimmerman’s first state three-sport athlete,” Bouley said. “It’s been one of the best parts of my life to be competing in these sports, especially because of the relationships I have built in them. They’ve played a large role in shaping me into who I am as a person. I would like to thank my coaches, parents, teammates, school, and all my supporters for helping me have such a wonderful career. I thank God for the gifts that he’s given me in these sports every day.”
“I’m so honored to have finished out my high school sporting career at state. State means you’re really one of the big dogs, and to have been at state a couple times in cross-country and track, it means the world to me that I’m fortunate enough to be fast enough,” Gustafson said. “This part of my life has meant so much to me. Running has shaped me into the young man I am today, and without it, I don’t know where I would be right now. Being a successful distance runner has driven me to want to keep improvising and improving, and that’s why I run.”
Grimm’s career comes to close, 4x400 takes 14th
Elk River senior Ava Grimm’s track career also came to a close with a 13th-place finish in the 400-meter dash (58.89 seconds) and 14th-place finish in the 200-meter dash (26.31 seconds) on June 7. She also competed with the 4x200-meter relay team (Audrey Neuerburg-Chapman, Alaina Schoenfelder and Katie Buhl) for the third straight year, taking 12th place with a time of 1:45.41.
Although she was disappointed about not making it to finals day in her three events, Grimm took pride in what she accomplished during her senior season.
“It was disappointing to miss the cut for finals, but things don’t always go the way you want them to. Going to state in three events was still an unforgettable experience and I’m glad I got to represent our school there,” Grimm said. “I’m grateful to have been able to race against the fastest runners in the state, and I believe that it was a great ending to my high school track career.”
Grimm’s track career ends with four straight state tourney appearances. She made it in the 4x200 all four years, while making it in the 400 the past two years. This year was her first time competing at state in the 200.
She said she’ll miss this part of her life, but she’s looking forward to what’s next.
“While I am proud of my accomplishments, I will always cherish the memories that came with them and the road leading to them,” Grimm said. “I’m really sad that it all ended so quickly and I will miss it, but I am looking forward to the next chapter of my life.”