Cross-country runner spent summer in basic training
Ethan Sievers spent the summer getting into the best shape of his life.
But spending 10 weeks of basic training to join the Minnesota National Guard may not have been the best training for this cross country season.
“I’m stronger, and I’m in pretty good shape – but it wasn’t the optimal cross-country training,” the Forest Lake senior admitted. “I was wary in terms of putting my best foot forward for the cross-country season, because I had roughly three days of practice before that first meet of the season.
“I wondered if I was in shape. I could tell my arms and legs were stronger, but I need to work on the cardio aspect.”
Fortunately for the Rangers, Sievers has stepped back into his spot as the team’s No. 2 runner, much to the relief of coach Andy Richardson.
“Ethan will need to run well for us to place where we want to be this season,” Richardson said. “He will play a huge role in any success we have.”
Sievers, who officially became a member of the Minnesota National Guard after completing basic combat training at Fort Sill in Oklahoma on Aug. 28, mentioned several reasons behind his decision to join the military.
“It’s something that I’ve thought about for a long time,” he said. “Since my plan is to go to med school, I tried to research ways to do that without gaining a ton of debt. But the National Guard also gave me medical training and leadership experience that I can carry into other parts of my life.”
Sievers is a bright student who is in his second year taking Postsecondary Enrollment Option classes at the University of Minnesota. He carries a full load of classes this fall, including human neuroanatomy, psychology, statistics and medical terminology – as well as an art class.
“I told him how impressed I was that he was juggling PSEO classes, cross-country practices and the National Guard,” Richardson said. “I think it’s crazy to be balancing all that, and he does it well. In some ways, Ethan is a 40-year-old trapped in a younger man’s body.”
Richardson said Sievers fit right into the Forest Lake lineup the moment he rejoined the team.
“Ethan loves to talk during long runs, and when he came back, he just started chatting away,” Richardson said. “Things were no different when he returned; it was if he had been with us the entire time.”
Well, there was one difference: Sievers now models a standard army-issue buzz cut.
“I hear the jokes about the buzz cut,” he said. “But it’s been fun to hear the guys talk about how their training was going, and to share my stories from the summer.”
Sievers, who did not run in Forest Lake’s win at Irondale this past week to hopefully heal a mild case of tendinitis, said he feels the improvement with every practice.
“I see myself getting faster and faster every week,” he said. “But I’m trying to keep that Army shape I gained over the summer. I can tell I’m getting back into it. If I keep dropping my times, and I help the team succeed, that will be a good season.”
As for joining the Army, Sievers has no regrets about that decision.
“Basic training helped put into perspective what is important in my life,” he said. “The discipline that I learned is something that I’ve added to my schoolwork and my cross-country training.
“I think I grew a lot in the summer. I feel I’m at a new level. It’s fun looking back on this experience now, but during the moment it wasn’t fun. It was hard. But it was a great experience.”
Even without Sievers, the Forest Lake boys crushed Irondale 19-43 in a meet run at Silver View Park on Thursday, Sept. 16. The Rangers had six of the top seven finishers in the race, led by senior Daniel VanAcker with his winning time of 16:35.09.
Junior Jacob Mayer placed third with a time of 17:52.82, leading a string of five straight Forest Lake finishers. Junior Ryan Houseman was fourth (17:58.97), followed by sophomore Jacob Kensy (18:10.88), and senior Jonathon Cubus (18:29.70) among the scoring runners, then junior Cooper Larson (18:38.21) as the first displacer.
Sophomore Logan Hays, Forest Lake’s second displacer, finished ninth – and ahead of three scoring runners for Irondale – with a 19:09.87 clocking.
The Ranger girls also outran Irondale on Thursday, Sept. 16, winning by a score of 19-44. Forest Lake also had its seven runners finish in the top eight, led by freshman Norah Hushagen and her winning time of 18:57.59.
Junior Ellie Hanowski placed third with a time of 19:53.57, followed by senior Ella Niznik in fourth (21:16.35), senior Isabel Castilleja in fifth (21:35.15), and junior Jordan Parent in sixth (21:50.10).
Senior Annabelle Stang took seventh (21:56.94) and eighth grader Madeleine Bonnett placed eighth (23:03.08), giving the Rangers two displacement runners before Irondale’s second finisher.
Both teams will run at the Burnsville Invitational, which will be run at Nicollet Middle School in Burnsville on Thursday, Sept. 23, starting at 2 p.m.
The next day both teams will compete at the prestigious Roy Griak Invitational hosted by the University of Minnesota.