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Published September 21 2011

Attentive head coach has brought consistency, ESPN attention to Spuds cross country

Moorhead - Fitting how a cross country coach like Jeremy Blake believes in going the distance.

In this case, going the distance doesn’t mean winning races. But Moorhead has done that plenty of times this season.

Going the distance means taking young men and women and showing them they can accomplish quite a bit.

“He cares about every individual runner on the team and he never gives up on anyone,” said senior Kyle Bernier. “Instead of just giving up, he persists and follows through and makes sure that you are doing what you set out to do.”

Persistence has led to the boys team looking to qualify for its 11th state tournament in 12 years.

It has also helped what was an injury-plagued girls team turn into a serious contender for a state berth.

Should the girls make it, it would be the fifth time in six years they’ve made it.

In all, the Spuds – both teams – have won all but one meet in what’s shaping up to be one of the best seasons in recent memory.

“He has a saying,” said girls runner Mackenzie Randlev said. “ ‘If things are bad, don’t worry, the sun will come out tomorrow.’ ”

Lately, the sun has been shining on Blake and the Spuds.

Ask Blake, who was a Spuds assistant for five seasons, about his success, and in a voice that sounds eerily like Tiger Woods, he’ll distance himself from the success.

The former Spuds and Concordia star said a lot of what he’s done is based off a blueprint created by former coach Tom Dooher.

“All in all, the success we’ve had has not been because of anything I’ve done,” he said. “We have had talented kids, and to be competitive in Minnesota, you have to have some talent.”

See. There he goes. Not wanting to take credit.

But like his runners profess, Blake is a coach that cares.

Go to a meet and he’s that athletically built guy dressed in all black running around the course making sure his runners are doing well.

He’s that coach who can be firm and fair yet befriend his runners.

“One time I corrected him because he had bad grammar,” Randlev said. “So to get back at me, he tried to shove some grass in my mouth.”

Though Blake tried to silence Randlev, chances are he couldn’t do that to Spuds athletic director Don Hulbert.

Hulbert raved about Blake and the word he kept using was “respect.”

The longtime Spuds AD threw the word like Frisbee when it came to how Blake is with his kids and how he gets the most out of them.

“It doesn’t surprise anyone that he’s evolved into a leader that kids look up to,” Hulbert said. “He treats kids with the utmost respect. He commands respect because he’s respectful.”

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

Clark’s Force blog can be found at slightlychilled.areavoices.com

ESPN Rise to feature Spuds

When Moorhead coach Jeremy Blake got back home from a family vacation, he had a message waiting for him.

It was from ESPN. Yep, the “Worldwide Leader” wanted to talk with him.

ESPN has a magazine, ESPN Rise, which focuses on the top prep athletes and teams in the nation.

Turns out, the magazine was looking to feature cross country teams in the Midwest and Moorhead stood out.

“The reporter I spoke to did his homework,” Blake said. “He knew the kids we’ve had and how many times we’ve gone to state. I was really impressed.”

Apparently, so was ESPN Rise.

Blake said his interview will be part of a large feature that will run in the October edition of the magazine.

The story, Blake said, will focus on the boys team, which finished second at state last season and has qualified 11 of the last 12 years for the state meet.

“It was cool because you grow up watching SportsCenter every hour,” Blake said. “You know, it’s not going to be on TV or anything, but the fact it is ESPN is pretty special.”