Rangers surprise with Extreme Meet win

Jankowski then sets school record in St. Cloud


Clint Riese
Sports Editor

Winning when you are expected to is great, but an unexpected win is even better. That’s what boys’ cross country coach Deno Johnson came away saying after the season-opening River Falls Extreme Meet.

The Rangers with their first-place trophy in River Falls: Alex Richert, Jack Ebel, Jacob Jankowski, Leo Hipp, Quinn Duffy and Rowan Hume. Not pictured: Tommy Babcock. (Photo submitted)

The Rangers surprised a field of 18 – and themselves – by running to a comfortable victory at the non-traditional meet.

“Honestly, I had no expectations for this race,” Johnson said.

His squad had other plans, though, and won by over 20 points over the hosts and defending champs from River Falls (WI).

Four Rangers medaled for placing in the top 15: senior Jacob Jankowski (2nd), senior Jack Ebel (7th), sophomore Leo Hipp (12th) and ninth-grader Tommy Babcock (15th). Sophomore Quinn Duffy placed 29th to round out the scoring.

Jacob Jankowski dashes through a water crossing at the unique Extreme Meet. (Photo submitted)

The course features six water crossings, and each equates to climbing a medium-sized hill, Johnson said.

The win was especially sweet for Forest Lake because it placed third at the meet the previous two seasons.

From the wet and wild Extreme Meet, the Rangers went to a flat, dusty course Monday in St. Cloud. Forest Lake finished seventh out of 11 teams at the St. Cloud Apollo Early Bird Invitational, which is one of the state’s premier early-season events.

Ebel did not finish due to an ankle injury but the Rangers still managed to edge section rival Elk River and place just behind No. 11 Andover, the defending Section 7AA champ.

Those accomplishments were due in large part to Jankowski posting the fastest 5K time in school history. He took fourth in 15:35. His mile splits improved as he went; Jankowski’s first mile took 5:55. He finished one place back of Wayzata’s Connor Olson, who is ranked fifth in the state.

“He’s keeping the company we expected him to this year,” Johnson said.

Hipp and Babcock also set personal records. Hipp’s time of 17:26 beat his old mark by 15 seconds. Despite running by himself for most of the meet, Babcock finished in 17:45 to beat his previous best effort by six seconds.

Third-ranked Wayzata won the meet, holding off the second-ranked team in Class A, St. Cloud Cathedral.

Another loaded invitational is up next for Forest Lake. It is set for Friday in Rosemount.