Raiders Cross Country - Molly Saboo

Onamia High junior Molly Saboo flashed the victory sign following her first-place finish in the first cross-country meet of the season – a triangular featuring the Mille Lacs Raiders, Hinckley/Finlayson Jaguars and Braham Bombers.

“So last spring’s track season didn’t happen because of COVID-19. You (the track athlete) get angry, upset and ready to cry, and what do you do? You take your anger out by training even harder in your sport of running. You run daily through the five months since the virus hit. And that is exactly what Onamia High junior distance runner Molly Saboo did.”

Those were the words the Mille Lacs girls cross-country coach Jeff Walz used to sum up where his star runner stood as the Raiders entered their first meet of the season on Sept. 1 in a triangular with Hinckley/Finlayson and Braham staged at Grand National Golf Course.

And did the 600-plus miles Saboo ran during the past months pay off?

“It did in a big way,” Walz said. “Molly placed first among the 13 who ran varsity, including besting the Jaguars freshman standout Reese Hartl, who last season finished 11th in the state cross-country meet.”

According to Walz, Saboo “attacked the course and led the entire way on the 3.1-miles course.”

Saboo finished well over one minute ahead of Hartl, turning in a new personal best time of 20:05 – a time which would have gotten her to the state meet in 2019.

That’s the good news.

The not-so-good situation for the Raiders is they could not field an entire varsity team. In fact, the only varsity runner for the Raiders was Saboo.

Hinckley/Finlayson won the varsity race with Braham taking second.

But, other younger Raiders placed well in the junior varsity and junior high portions of the meet.

Nevaeh Merrill placed fifth in the junior varsity event, while Rhianna Smith came in fifth, Liz Schleis, sixth and June Schleis, eighth in the junior high race.

The Raiders ran in their second meet of the season at Rush City on Sept. 10. Saboo and Merrill did well in that meet, also. A summary of that race will appear in the Sept. 23 issue of the Messenger.

Walz is still hoping when school is back in session he can talk a few volleyball players into running varsity in 2020 since the volleyball season has been moved to the Spring of 2021.

The Raiders will be hosting their first ever cross-country meet scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 15. The meet will be held behind Isle High School.

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