Cross Country State Bound!

MPA’s Athletics are having a great year so far. Today we celebrate the fact that we have three Panthers who have qualified for State!

Isak Nightingale placed fourth in Section 4A
Margo Nightingale placed tenth in Section 4A
Teagan O’Keefe place ninth in Section 4A

MPA Boys 5th Place Section 4A & MPA Girls 6th Place Section 4A

Sections advances the top two teams plus the next ten individuals. Sections took place at Highland 9 Golf Course and the State race will be November 6 at St. Olaf College. This season the MSHSL has moved to 3 classes for Cross Country running. AAA–Largest, AA–Middle, A–Smallest. MPA athletes will run Boys at 12 PM, Girls at 1 PM and Awards at 1:45 PM!

Celebrating What’s Next To Come

Karen Widerskiby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

As the school year hurries to a close and we look forward to celebrating the graduating Class of 2021, we are also celebrating two employees, payroll and benefits administrator Karen Widerski, and Middle School math teacher Dan Ethier, who are graduating on to other endeavors.

Karen came to MPA in the 2012-2013 school year after a long and successful career in human resources at Target Corporation. In her time at MPA, she has made wonderful impressions with colleagues. Rose Wick, who works alongside Karen in the business office, shares, “Karen is a true friend, the most hilarious person I have ever worked with.” Other coworkers describe Karen as “awesome,” “a hard worker,” “fun,” and “humorous.”

Karen purchased her father’s home on Child Lake in Hackensack, MN, where she will surely continue to the throw the best fourth of July party on the lake, complete with a fireworks show. She is very close with her family and will enjoy spending more time with her husband Jim, daughter Jess, and son Keith. Her father and brother live nearby as well. Karen is a pet lover who has raised several black labs, including her current dog, Jax. Up North, Karen will get to continue her love for the outdoors, especially, snowmobiling and cross country skiing, and she’ll have lots of time for the annual family trip to the Caribbean each winter.

“Karen came at a time when there was much change at MPA. She brought an amazing sense of calm and confidence, and she is always willing to do whatever it takes to get things done,” says CFO Gina Wallraff. “She is a major team player with an amazing can do attitude. We have relied on her tremendously and she just takes care of things. She will be missed.”

We all wish Karen a wonderful and happy retirement.

Mr. Ethier teaching math class

Dan Ethier joined MPA in the fall of 1992, and for 29 years, has been a fundamental part of the Middle School, as well as a highly successful and much loved cross country running and math league coach.

In the classroom, Dan exemplifies MPA’s experiential, hands on approach to learning. He built his curriculum on solving rigorous problems and he’s an expert on crafting open ended problems that require his students to apply their deep content knowledge in creative ways. Rather than giving students problems that have a clear, procedural approach, Dan instead sought ones where the methodology was not obvious nor straight forward from the start.

Dan’s problem solving approach connected academic rigor to real world concepts. Whether it was learning about investing and interest or measuring the depths of craters on the moon using trigonometry, his students have found themselves solving problems that apply mathematics to life.

Dan’s personal sense of curiosity and love for learning made him a great teacher as well. “Students ask good questions. I make sure to spend time pursuing those questions and demonstrating interest in them,” he says. “Sometimes I raise the questions myself. It’s about being curious myself and letting that spill over into the lesson.”

Though a math teacher, Dan fiercely advocated for all subject areas, and especially championed the fine arts. “The arts allow students to see the world in new and different ways, and that new vision will allow them to apply their science, technology, engineering, and math knowledge with the creativity and innovation our 21st century world needs.”

In the end, what most propelled Dan to the upper echelons of the teaching profession was his knack for truly getting to know each student he came across. He was known for writing a comment on every problem that a student answered incorrectly with advice on where they went wrong.

“Dan has been, and always will be, a cultural icon of sorts in the Middle School. From his silly stuffed animals, to his dry sense of humor, students have come to know math and themselves better in this great big world,” says Middle School director Jenn Milam. “We will all be better for having shared this journey with Dan–his passion for mathematics and teaching is out-matched only by his passion and love for Middle Schoolers.”

Dan also poured his heart and soul into Mounds Park Academy cross country. He took over the program in its infancy, and through his guidance and passion, turned it into a perennial contender and one of MPA’s most successful athletic programs. He took three teams to the state meet, placing as high as second in 2013, earned section 4A coach of the year honors in 2008, and coached six all state-athletes and two state champions.

Dan’s connection to his team is clear. He is invited to and attends nearly every graduation party, creates individualized race plans for each varsity runner at every meet, writes detailed recaps of each race, and is a true master of making everyone on the team, from state champions to sixth graders, feel welcomed, included and special. It’s no wonder that so many seniors on the team ask Dan for a letter of recommendation when heading off to college.

Dan coaches the right way, with humor, care, and respect. He instills a terrific work ethic in every athlete and transforms a sport that some find monotonous and difficult into something enjoyable and rewarding. Whether it’s the annual run to Dairy Queen, the game of “Foxes and Hounds” or the professional quality end of season banquets, Dan brings joy, sportsmanship, and camaraderie to the team.

As Dan moves on from MPA into retirement, I hope he will get to enjoy more time with his passions outside of MPA, including drone photography, distance running, astronomy, app development, and current events. And I know he will always be rooting for the next generation of MPA runners.

Please click here to leave farewell messages and well wishes for Dan and Karen!

Athena Award Winner Izzy Quam Commits to St. Michael’s College

Izzy QuamCongratulations to MPA’s 2021 Athena Award Winner, senior Izzy Quam for committing to St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont for Nordic Skiing! A four sport athlete, Izzy competes in Soccer, Cross Country Running, Nordic Skiing, and Track and Field. She is a captain in each of her sports.  Izzy has accumulated 19 varsity letters in athletics, 9 All Conference or Honorable Mention awards from the IMAC conference, and countless team MVPs honors and coaches awards. She is also a stellar student who appears on the honor roll, has earned academic letters, and is a member of the Cum Laude Society.

“I have been fortunate to coach Izzy since she was a 7th grader. She is an absolutely tremendous kid, really among the best ever to come through MPA. Her combination of leadership skills, positive attitude, kindness, and athletic ability don’t come along very often,” says Panthers Cross Country Running and Track and Field coach Nate Bander. “I can’t wait to see what great things await her as she heads off to college.” Izzy joins her older sisters Erin (2017) and Ellie (2019) in winning the Athena Award. Read More

TCRC XC Showcase

While the MSHSL did not hold a state meet this year due to COVID, some retired cross country coaches organized the TCRC XC Showcase to give the top cross country runners from around the state a chance to compete against each other. Our own Isak was invited to participate, based on his section meet result.

Isak finished 8th in his pod of individual qualifiers not running with their teams, and he finished 18th overall in the merged results. His time of 17:13.8 was his second best time this season, behind only his section finish.

You can see complete merged results for the boys small class at Wayzata Results.


Section Meet

This was a section meet in two acts.

Our girls ran in the morning, enjoying crisp autumn weather but also dealing with blustery winds. Margo ran with the 2nd Breck runner for most of the race, sprinting past her over the last part of the race. She finished 9th overall. Cara ran with another Breck runner for much of the way, but she also kicked hard to finish ahead of her competition. Izzy, running her last high school cross country race, ran one of her best races of the season, finishing strong. And she had to because Teagan was just a few seconds behind her, earning a personal best time. Abigail ran close to her personal best time, set on a flat course at Blake. Sophia, running on legs that were feeling much better after a week of rest, improved her best time on this course from last year.

The girls team, which had been seeded 8th, improved on that, finishing in 7th place in the merged results.

Our boys team ran in the afternoon, enjoying slightly warmer temperatures, but also dealing with the same strong winds. Isak ran with the top Holy Family runner, staying with him until the last hill, when he moved ahead. He finished with a strong kick to win our pod. He finished 3rd overall. Ben moved up steadily the second half of the race, finishing with a good surge to improve his personal best time. Peter, running in his final high school cross country race, started pretty fast, and hung on for his best time of the season. Not bad for someone who broke his ankle in June! Evan started out with Ben, but had some trouble, hanging on to finish as our 4th runner. Trevor ran close to his personal best time and finished well. Eddie also finished well, improving on his best time on this course from last year. Liam also had some trouble during the race, but hung on to close things out for the boys.

The boys team, which had also been seeded 8th, finished in 6th place in the merged results.

Since there is no state meet this year, this section meet marks the end of our season. Thanks to your ability to adapt to many new ways of doing things, your willingness to take responsibility for your own training when you were not on campus, and all your hard work over the summer and during our season, you ran some excellent races today. Congratulations on completing a memorable season!

Results for the girls and boys races can be found at Gopher State Events.

And if you’ve never seen our girls do their pre-race routine, check out this video:

Non-Varsity Time Trial

On a beautiful fall afternoon, our non-varsity runners had one last chance to test themselves in a 2400 meter time trial.

Henry led from start to finish. Josh and Leo ran together the entire race, with Josh kicking past Leo over the last 100 meters. Josh ran 10 seconds faster than he did in the virtual meet over the same course. Megan finished only a few seconds behind those boys to lead our two girls. She ran almost 30 seconds faster than she did at the virtual meet a month ago.

Carter and Connor ran close together most of the way, with Carter sprinting ahead at the end. Both Carter and Connor ran much faster than they did over the same course in the virtual meet. Julia finished just ahead of Andrew, running almost a minute faster than she did in the virtual meet! Andrew was slowed by a sore back from hockey.

Ryan wrapped things up for our non-varsity runners.

Almost everyone who had run over this course during the virtual meet a month ago improved on that time. Some of you improved a lot. This is a credit to the work you’ve put in over the course of the season. This ends your season for this year. But hopefully you can make more progress in future seasons!

You can see the results of the non-varsity time trial here.

IMAC Championship

It felt like August but you raced like October at the IMAC Championship.

Our varsity boys started things off. It was already getting hot with a stiff wind as well. Isak ran for a short while with the top Breck runner, but he settled in with the 2nd and 3rd Breck runners. He led them through the second half of the race and finished well to earn 2nd in our race, and 4th in the merged results. Isak earned all conference honors for his efforts.

Peter, Evan, and Ben stuck together for most of the race, working against the top Providence runner and the 4th Breck runner. They finished within a few seconds of each other. Liam, Eddie, and Trevor also ran together for most of the race. Liam made a late move, but Eddie surged to finished as our 5th runner, with Liam finishing close behind, and with Trevor sprinting past Breck’s 5th runner.

Our varsity girls toed the line as the temperatures rose into the high 70s. Margo ran with the top Providence runner and the 2nd Breck runner. She surged up the big last hill to separate from them to finish 2nd in our race and 7th in the merged results. Margo earned all conference honors for her work.

Cara ran much of the race alone, but ran well to finish 7th in our race and  20th in the merged results. Izzy, Teagan, and Abigail ran together much of the race, competing against a couple of Providence runners. Izzy pushed hard over the last mile, and Teagan stuck not too far back, to separate from those runners. Abigail held on for a course best time.

I was pleased to see some good racing today. The weather and the course made fast times impossible. But you ran in groups and ran with the runners from Breck and Providence that you were targeting. If you bring that effort and focus to our section races next week, you will do well!

Results are available at Gopher State Events.

MPA v. Blake Varsity

This morning, you had a dual meet on a course with more twists and turns than a Stephen King novel. Fortunately, the only bears on the course were the Blake runners.

Our boys varsity was first up. Isak chased the top Blake runners for most of the race, finishing 3rd with his second best ever time. Peter started fast and hung on to finish 5th. His time this morning was about 90 seconds faster than his previous meet two weeks ago. Ben ran well the entire race, closing on Peter during the latter stages of the race. He improved his personal best time by 12 seconds. Evan’s breakfast was giving him a little trouble during the race, but he still managed to finish 9th and improve his time from two weeks ago by almost 30 seconds. Trevor wound up as our 5th runner. He improved his personal best by almost a minute! Eddie, in just his second varsity race, improved his personal best by about 40 seconds. Liam also has some trouble with his breakfast choices, and had to stop to get a divorce from his breakfast. He did persist and finished the race.

Next up was our girls varsity. After leading the first part of the race, Margo chased the top girls from Blake, ultimately finishing 4th. Cara started out further back, but made a strong move in the second half of the race, finishing in 5th place, and running just 2 seconds behind her personal best time. Izzy also surged in the latter part of the race, finishing 9th. Teagan, running in her first varsity race, moved up significantly during the second half of the race, finishing just 6 seconds behind Izzy. Abigail was our 5th runner, closing out the scoring for our team. She improved her personal best by 90 seconds. Sophia kept a steady quickish pace the entire race. It paid off, as she improved her personal best time by over a minute!

In this small meet format, with just two teams, I thought you did well to stick with groups of the Blake runners as long as you could. Even if you did fall back later in the race, this helped you run better times. Next up, in just ten days, is our conference championship. We will have a shot at Breck and Providence Academy.

You can see the results for our runners here.

MPA v. SPA JV Meet

On a warm, humid afternoon, ten of our JV runners, including many middle school runners, raced well.

Our boys started things off. Leo, running in his first cross country race, ran well to finish in 3rd place overall. Joey finished with a strong kick to earn 5th place overall, against mostly high school competition! Henry S., wearing his signature baseball cap (now a very sweaty baseball cap), ran very well to improve his personal best by over 30 seconds! Sam, running his first 5000 meter cross country race, was only a few seconds behind Henry S.

Andrew was surprised, and perhaps pleased, that many of his friends dropped by to cheer him on. Very loudly. They even tried to run alongside him, but they couldn’t keep up with him. Zain finished a few seconds behind Andrew, and was probably wondering what all the fuss was about. Noah finished with a good kick. And Eilam ran his second 5000 meter race of the season.

Later, our two Amy’s did the girls race. After tiring out their coach by walking the course with him, they raced 5000 meters. For the younger Amy, this was her first cross country race, after she did her warmup on the swing on the new playground. For the older Amy, this was her second time on this course, and this time she did not take any wrong turns and finished with a good kick.

It was a challenging day to race, and you did well to overcome the conditions!

(Click to see the full size images)

IMAC Middle School Virtual Meet

It was not an ideal day to race cross country. But you ran very well!

Eddie started fast and kept going fast, maintaining a steady 6:20-ish pace for the entire race. Joey also ran a strong steady pace, averaging 7:00 pace. Josh was never far behind Joey and also ran a steady pace. This was his first cross country race. Sam, in his first cross country race, did very well.

Ryan held off the hard charging Carter and Connor. All three ran very competitively. This was the first cross country race for all three of them. Boyd finished things for our middle school boys. He started very fast and held on pretty well.

Teagan was our top girl, our 5th overall finisher. She averaged 7:20 pace the entire way, keeping a fairly even pace after a quick first loop. Megan was not far behind, in her first cross country race. Julia ran a steady pace the entire way. She’s only been on the team about a week, and this was only the second time she’s been with the team!

You can see the times for our runners here and overall results for all participating teams here.