I was not prepared for what came out of the mouth of the first place girls’ finisher at the cross country meet Thursday. “I’m a volleyball player, I came out for cross country because volleyball was moved to the spring because of COVID”. I stood in silence for a few seconds. She came in first place, she won the race!

Kori Bristle and her teammate Ella Kienitz, both freshman from MACCRAY/RCW were my guests Thursday on the radio, along with their coach Deb Hoberg after the cross country meet in Appleton. LQPV/DB hosted Morris/CA and Maccray/RCW. Because of COVID cross country meets are really different this year. During a normal season you could have ten to twelve teams running together. Not this year, just a couple of teams are allowed.

Kori Bristle leads the pack at the start of the race.

In August the Minnesota High School League announced that the football and volleyball seasons would be moved to the spring. Cross country, girls tennis and swimming would be allowed to start their season in the fall with restrictions. That meant some volleyball and football players decided to give cross country, tennis or swimming a try. That is what Kori and Ella did. They have always played volleyball and wanted to stay in shape for basketball season, so they decided to go out for cross country.

I visited with MACCRAY/ RCW coach Deb Hoberg before the meet and told her I was broadcasting on the radio and invited her and a few of her runners to come over to my table after the meet and I would interview them. She was very polite and said she would. The boys and girls’ races were completed and Deb, Ella and Kori came over to be interviewed. I had never met them before and wasn’t aware they were volleyball players turned cross country runners. We were live on the air when Deb informed me that Ella and Kori were first year cross country runners and were actually volleyball players. I was so surprised because Kori had just finished in first place and beat some of the best runners around!

Kori Bristle finishing in first place

Kori and Ella were all smiles as I was talking with them. They both said they surprised themselves by how much they enjoyed the sport. It was a great week for both of them. On Tuesday in Cottonwood, Kori came in second place and Ella seventh. Thursday in Appleton Kori came in first place and Ella 12th. Maccray/RCW doesn’t have enough girls to make up a team, so they don’t place. The other girl is Brynn Lozinski. Coach Hoberg was very proud of them and what they have accomplished and very happy they went out for cross country.

Now that volleyball is back in the fall. I failed to ask Kori and Ella what they were going to do, stay with cross country or go back to volleyball. I hope they can do both sports. Thursday was a fun day, it was my birthday and the LQPV/DB girls team sang Happy Birthday to me live on the radio. And visiting with Kori and Ella and Coach Hoberg made the day that much more special. With all the bad news about what is happening around us it was nice to hear a fun and great story for once. Thank you Kori and Ella.

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