November 9, 2022 at 4:21 p.m.
Kampsen wins Sauk Centre’s first-ever cross-country championship
Kampsen’s relentless drive to succeed and incredible athleticism made Metcalf’s words come to life, as the Sauk Centre senior clutched out a magnificent 15-minute, 49.5-second race to win the Class A Boys Cross-Country Meet Nov. 5 at St. Olaf College in Northfield.
“It’s a great feeling knowing that all my hard work this summer paid off,” Kampsen said. “It’s such a big accomplishment that I have been chasing for years.”
Reaching the top of the mountain required improving on previous excellence. After finishing third behind Perham senior Jakob McCleary’s 16:09.64 mark and Nova Classical Academy’s Henry Karelitz’s 16:25.02 at the 2021 state meet, Kampsen realized he was not far off from his goal. However, it would take vigilant training to take another step forward.
“I realized I could run with the best in Class A, but I needed to put more miles in if I wanted to have a shot at winning it,” Kampsen said. “I knew I had to have a schedule of when I need to run, work, eat right, sleep and set weekly workout goals.”
Kampsen exceeded his state time of 16:25.93 in every appearance during the 2022 campaign, breaking under 16 minutes twice: at the team’s home invite at the Old Course Oct. 4 and at the West Central Conference Championships Oct. 17. In almost every competition Kampsen was finishing first, so it came as little surprise when the speedster won the Section 6A Championships in Staples Oct. 28.
However, this noticeable steady improvement would meet its match against Karelitz, seeded above Kampsen off the back of his 15:43.4 performance at the Section 4A Championships. The Nova Classic Academy superstar possessed the lead for the majority of the Class A championship race, leading by 3.5 seconds after two miles. Trailing by a few seconds would worry many runners; not Kampsen.
“My plan the whole race was to stay on his hip and make my move the last 200 meters,” he said. “There’s a hill at the end and then the straightaway. Henry is a great runner, so the whole race, I knew I needed to stay close to him.”
And with little time to spare, Kampsen reached his extra gear, pulling ahead of Karelitz for good on the hill and speeding to the victory, the first individual cross-country title in Sauk Centre program history. Metcalf, from his vantage point, saw Brandon trailing Karelitz before the runners disappeared around the corner and had to check his phone for the final race update.
“I saw Brandon’s name pop up and went, ‘Yes!’” Metcalf said. “I was so excited and happy for him.”
Kampsen’s longtime mentor came to congratulate his runner on the historic accomplishment, but was forced to wait until the joyous upperclassman was done with media interviews. When they finally received the chance, the duo hugged.
“I would really like to thank my coach Jim Metcalf for always seeing the potential in me, from when I first started as a skinny little seventh grader,” Kampsen said. “He’s been with me every race and encouraged me to be a state champion.”
Also providing an important emotional spark for Kampsen was Jacob Drevlow, who himself had a memorable day at the state meet. Making his state debut as a freshman, Drevlow competed hard, finishing at 17:45.4, good for 96th out of 160 runners.
“For a ninth grader, he’s got so much composure and he’s just a smart kid,” Metcalf said. “He’s mature for his age and he knew what kind of race he could have.”
With Kampsen’s and Drevlow’s stout runs, the cross-country season is over for Sauk Centre. Kampsen now turns his attention toward achieving lofty goals in track and field, while Drevlow and a large batch of returning runners seek to build the program into a threat to win the state meet – this time as a team.
“They can see that a small-town kid from Sauk Centre can do very well at the state meet,” Metcalf said. “This is just going to help the other kids want to put in the work and show that it’s a possibility for them too.”