The 2020-21 Pelican Rapids High School cross country team.
Front kneeling, from left, Megan Guler, Kirra Johnson, Peyton Borgen, Sam Moe, Nicholas Rockstead, Josiah Banton, Sylvia Pesch, Lizzy Moe
Back row standing, from left, Coach Knorr, Coach Maresh, Dylan Hoadley, Easton Munich, Julian Diaz, Parker Sanchez, Charlie Larson, Grady Larson, Philip Dykhoff, Olivia Kleinschmidt, Janae LaFerriere, Coach Januszewski
Pelican Rapids cross country runner Charlie Larson, coming down a hill at the St. Olaf course at the state cross country meet. Larson finished within just seconds of the top ten—placing him with the best time for a ninth grader in the state meet.

Viking was top freshman Class A runner

Freshman Charlie Larson capped off an incredible year with an 11th place finish at the MSHSL Class A State Cross Country Meet November 6 at St. Olaf College in Northfield. 

His time of 16:50.99 was less than two seconds out of a top 10 podium finish. 

Larson has remarkable race instincts, but competing on a big stage such as the state cross country meet can be intimidating, especially the first time. 

In pre-race conversations, Coach Maresh, Coach Knorr, and Coach Januszewski all emphasized the importance of using the first 800m to get into a good position. Coming into the race, Larson was ranked 18th, but the times were within a few seconds of each other, meaning it was anybody’s race. Coming out the woods after the first mile, Larson had positioned himself in the chase pack, poised and ready to make a move. 

The second mile is a loop that takes the runners back through a stretch of prairie land, not viewable to spectators. As they came out of the second loop, ready to head back into the woods for the final mile, Larson was leading the chase pack and was in the top five. He came up the final hill, headed for the home stretch in seventh place. With less than 100m to go, Larson was passed by the runners he had battled the whole race. He finished the top freshman in Class A, leaving everything on the course. 

His performance was nothing short of remarkable. 

“The state meet is challenging for many reasons,” comomented assistant coach Laura Januszewski. “The course has some tough hills, especially in the final mile when your legs are already fatigued. For many, the hardest part is not letting nerves get the best of you. Sometimes it takes a year and a disappointing race to realize that you belong in the race. For Charlie, he used the nerves to bring energy to his race. He had himself in the top pack after the first 800m, and I could tell he was going to do what he’s done the whole year, run a smart, competitive race. He has incredible poise and talent for a freshman. He is going to be fun to watch for years to come.”