Rockford area all-home school team gets on track

By Dave Pedersen
Crow River News

After establishing a Home School cross country running team in the Rockford area last fall, the Northwest Nighthawks joined the track and field scene this spring.
The Minnesota State High School League sanctioned program entered the sub-section meet at Rockford last week, qualifying some to the Section 5A finals conducted June 1 at St. John’s University after this issue went to press.

Erika Swanson from Rockford (right) finished second in the 800-meter run at last week’s sub-section track meet at Rockford High School. Swanson competes for the Northwest Nighthawks, one of two all-home school track and field teams in the state.
Erika Swanson from Rockford (right) finished second in the 800-meter run at last week’s sub-section track meet at Rockford High School. Swanson competes for the Northwest Nighthawks, one of two all-home school track and field teams in the state.

Ninth-grader Erika Swanson captured second place in the 800-meter run and placed third in the 1600. The top four in each event advanced to the finals. Swanson was seeded fifth in the 800 but set a personal best time by three and a half seconds.
Drake Fraser, a ninth-grader, set his personal best time in the 800 by five and a half seconds and finished ninth. Other personal bests were set by ninth-grader Will Fuglestad in the shot put, sophomore Jake Bendickson in the 400 and senior Ellie Lee in the 1600.
The only other all-home school track and field team in the state is in Rochester. The only senior on the team of 11 is Christiana Spencer.
“Our team is pretty young and everyone is a first-season trickster,” said program athletic director and assistant coach Jennifer Swanson. Her husband Kirk is the head track coach. “The majority of our on-track experience is at meets since we do not have a stadium. We practice at the park, stretch in a horse barn and occasionally rent the Rockford track after their team leaves.”
Swanson said finding meets in the first track season has been challenging because many invitational meets were full. However, now that the “foot is in the door” the team is getting invitations for next year.
Seven of the 11 team members competed in cross country. Swanson qualified for the state meet.