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Published August 31 2010

High school cross country: Moorhead wins bittersweet after meet’s namesake dies

Shocky Strand’s love for Moorhead athletics was well noted. So was his ability to spot young talent, said Moorhead cross country coach Jeremy Blake.

If Strand had been around Monday, he would have been a happy man as Moorhead’s boys and girls cross country teams won first place at the Shocky Strand Invitational Meet.

“He just always had a good eye for talent,” Blake said. “When my son was born just a few months ago, I told my wife we should have Shocky come by to see if our son has talent.”

Memories of Strand, who coached cross country and track, were fresh as he died last Wednesday at 87 years old. His funeral was Sunday.

Runners and spectators were greeted at MB Johnson Park with signs bearing Strand’s name. One featured Strand’s photo as a tribute.

“I think you look back at those teams that have been to state and it creates pressure,” said Moorhead sophomore Taylor Janssen, who finished second in the girls division. “There’s pressure for us to be good because of our school’s past.”

Fergus Falls’ Haylie Zenner, a junior, won the girls division. Zenner’s counterpart, Moorhead senior Lukas Gemar, finished first in the boys division.

The meet served as a season opener for the 12 competing schools.

“I’ve always thought this was a great meet,” Zenner said. “You get to run against some big schools and it’s good for us because the competition is always good.”

As people who grew up in the communities they coach at, Blake and Fergus Falls coach Niki Welde said the invitational serves a reminder to what Moorhead means to the running community.

Blake said the meet had always been popular as it attracted programs from both sides of the state line. The meet’s popularity, he said, has helped with the expanding running community in Fargo-Moorhead.

Welde, who also ran at Fergus Falls, said growing up Moorhead was a powerhouse. She said Moorhead still carries that reputation as, “one of the teams you’re always trying to chase.”

Strand, she said, had a lot to do with Moorhead earning that reputation.

“I think with the kids running today, they might not have met (Strand) but they knew his name,” Welde said. “You think about Moorhead, then the Fargo Marathon, this is an area that’s respected by a lot of people. I think a lot of the older guys like Shocky had something to do with it.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548