On a bright, sunny fall afternoon, Thunder junior Hailee Zimpel managed to run her way to a top-10 finish at the 2021 Class 2A girls state cross country meet on Saturday, Nov. 6, at St. Olaf College in Northfield.

Zimpel finished ninth, finishing the race in 19:07.25. She was the only runner in all of the ISD 728 schools: Elk River, Rogers and Zimmerman, to finish in the top 10 in either the boys or girls state cross country meet. Zimpel finished about a minute behind Hutchinson sophomore Isabelle Schmitz, who finished the race in 17:59.44. Schmitz was the 2021 Class 2A champion, finishing in first.

Thunder head coach Lynda Bouley said Zimpel is a talented athlete who strives to be the best she can be.

She is successful because she is driven to do what needs to be done to be a champion runner,” Bouley said. “She is dedicated, works very hard, gives attention to detail, such as making sure her form drills are done right, analyzing performances to seek improvement, sleeps and eats well and mentally prepares before each race.  

Before the state race, Hailee told me her goal was to place in the top 10.  I believed she would as she is focused, thoughtful and driven to do just that. I look for Hailee to continue to improve her performance into her senior season as she continues to train with focus and confidence.”

Zimpel’s teammate, Thunder sophomore Emily Baker, finished the race in 21:57.50.

Bouley said Baker has been a solid performer since she started running for the Thunder as a seventh grader in 2018.

“She has a great work ethic and positive attitude which has served her well through challenging times like COVID[-19],” Bouley said. “She is an emerging leader of our team and has demonstrated that sheer grit and determination can lead to success. She had an awesome Section race that earned her this well deserving spot at state.  She should go into next season with confidence. Look for her to qualify again.”

Zimmerman’s Joel Bouley finishes 80th in boys cross country race

Bouley’s son, Joel Bouley, a junior at Zimmerman High School, finished 80th in the Class 2A boys cross country meet, which was also held at St. Olaf College on Saturday, Nov. 6. Joel finished with a time of 17:52.34.

Lynda said Joel had a slow start in cross country and making the 2021 state tournament was the “cherry on top.”

“He did not run his best race at state as he struggled with a side ache, so he is focused on returning as a senior [in 2022] and improving his performance there,” Lynda said.

Lynda told Joel, Baker and Zimpel that she was pleased with their performances and that they gave it their all.

“I look for all three of them to return to the state meet next year and continue and be positive role models for our team and community,” she said. We are fortunate to  belong to a great community here in ISD 728 and we want to recognize our friends, Cara Back from Rogers and Matthew Binsfeld from Elk River, who were also state participants. Not only do we have great runners, but positively amazing people in our programs.”

Binsfeld finished in 145th place with a time of 17:53.47. Back finished in 58th place with a time of 19:49.14.

Spectrum’s Hope Beck finishes 39th in Class 2A girls race

Sting eighth grader Hope Beck finished 39th in the Class 2A girls race with a time of 20:08.71.

Spectrum head coach Rick Peterson said Beck did tremendous on Saturday.

“She’s one of our only runners that regardless of how tough the course has been, improved her time every meet this season,” Peterson said. “For an eighth grader, she’s one of the top eighth graders in Class 2A right now. She had a good race.”

Spectrum eighth grader Hannah Boese started the race but was unable to finish it because she was ill.

“She still tried to run,” Peterson said. “She tried her best, and I’m so proud of her effort. It’s unfortunate with the timing of not feeling good all kind of hit right at the day of the state meet. Hannah has been our leader all season long. She’s been our top girl the entire season and has won several races with some high-level competition. She certainly didn’t lack for effort. She still went out there and did the best she could given how her body was feeling.”

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