Denfeld News

April 23, 2010
Duluth News Tribune

Denfeld runner setting a fast pace
By Jon Nowacki

The Duluth Denfeld cross country team was about to begin an uphill trail run near Keene Creek two years ago when Hunters coaches asked Paige Stratioti to lead, figuring a freshman girl wouldn’t set too difficult a pace.

They figured wrong.

“We wanted a nice group run, but by the time Paige was done, there was no group left,” said Denfeld coach Joel Holman. “That’s when we first realized that we were dealing with something a little different here.”

The two Denfeld coaches and top boy were the only ones who could keep up with Stratioti in the withering heat, and even she was hyperventilating by the end of it, displaying more in heart than she did in stamina. Now two years later, Stratioti has turned her attention to soccer in the fall, but in the spring she’s a running machine.

Stratioti finished fifth at the Class AA meet in the 400 meters as a sophomore last season with a time of 57.39 seconds, and the junior is ahead of last year’s pace. She also is one of the area’s best jumpers, having won the 200, 400, long and triple jumps at a meet on Tuesday in Cloquet.

Stratioti spent the winter working out at Impact Sports Training in Duluth and has a goal of advancing to state in four events.

“Paige is probably best suited for the 800, but at this stage in her career, we kind of figure if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Holman said. “She could high jump, too, but we won’t let her.”

Holman knew Stratioti might be special even before that grueling trail run. Tim Stratioti, Paige’s father, was a Hunters track and cross country assistant who coached Holman in the early 1980s. When Holman began coaching, the older Stratioti would bring his daughter to practice, and the girl wouldn’t sit still, zipping around the field or jumping on the pole vault pit.

“I’ve always been competitive like that,” Stratioti said. “I go until I burn out, and then, I’m done.”

The Denfeld girls squad lacks depth but returns sophomore sprinter Emily Desmarais.

The Hunter boys return C.J. Ham, a 6-foot, 245-pound junior who is already clearing 50 feet in the shot put and 140 feet in the discus in practice, marks that will make him a section favorite.

“C.J.’s success is because of his work ethic,” said Denfeld boys coach Frank Huie. “He’s a talented athlete, but he works hard.”

Senior Brad Hoder is solid in the throwing events, while senior Billy Phousongphouang is one of the Northland’s top returners in the long and triple jump. In the distance events, junior Lake Superior Conference champion Matt Kero is joined by senior Ryan Soule and junior Peter Thorstad.

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