Crimson cross country runners deliver strong performances for teammate

Top runner Sawyer French suffered stroke

By Bob San

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Running with heavy hearts, the Maple Grove boys’ cross country team delivered a powerful performance at the St. Olaf Showcase Invitational in Northfield Aug. 31. The Crimson placed third in the massive 33-team, 700-runner field.

The Crimson were competing without junior Sawyer French, who suffered a stroke on Aug. 25. They turned sorrow into power and gave a tremendous team performance. Minus French, one of their top runners, the Crimson came out to make a statement and placed two in the top five.

Leading the way for Maple Grove was third-place finisher Blake Iversen (16:37) and fifth place finisher CJ Young (16:56). Charlie Cavan (32nd – 17:21), Patrick McLean (41st – 17:31) and Max Kivi (57th-17:53) rounded out the five scorers. Huxley Nyabwari (90th – 18:16) and Mike Ward (114st-18-29) completed the top seven.

In support of their greatly missed teammate French, both the Crimson boys’ and girls’ teams wore lime green accessories, one of French’s favorite colors.


The Crimson competed in a powerful and star-studded field both in individuals and teams alike. The race featured powerhouse Wayzata, who won handily with 37 points. Individually, freshman Grace Ping of Winona Cotter, holder of numerous age-group world records, completed the 5K course in 17:45.

The Crimson placed a solid ninth out of 31 teams. Leading the way for Maple Grove was Gabbie Bolcer (35th – 20:08), followed by scorers Nora Trost (45th- 20:28), Lindsey Young (47th -20:33), Riley Allison (54th – 20:41) and Avery Erickson (84th—21:09). Completing the top seven varsity finishers were Ava LeNeau (88th – 21:15) and Kylie Ruprecht (141st- 22:03).


In support of their greatly missed teammate, both the Crimson boys’ and girls’ teams wore lime green accessories. Lime green is one of French’s favorite colors.

Sawyer received support not just from the cross country teams.

At last Friday’s home football game against Prior Lake, the Crimson student section held a Lime-Out, meaning kids wore the color lime green in honor of French. There were many Sawyer signs in the crowd. Numerous Crimson football players wore lime green accessories such as socks or wrist bands. Crimson junior running back Evan Hull, a teammate of French on the track and field team, scored Maple Grove’s touchdown wearing green socks.

According to team parents who spoke with French’s mom Dawn, French continues to improve steadily while hospitalized. They said family members have high hopes of French making a complete recovery.

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