April 23, 2010
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
“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
“I’ve always been competitive like
that,” Stratioti said. “I go until I burn out, and then,
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.