North Branch junior Rhianna Rinke placed 16th at the Class 2A state cross-country meet last November, validation of both her talent and unusual summer training approach.

Q: You took third at the Milaca Early Bird meet last week. How did the transition from a 4K to 5K feel?

A: It was my first 5K ever so it's the farthest I've ever raced. I didn't think it would feel like such a big jump but during the race, it definitely felt like a big jump for me.

Q: Did your 16th overall finish at state last fall provide you confidence that has carried over to this season?

A: I think so. I think I'm really good at holding a strong pace during a race. But it's near the finish where I have to kick it up some more.

Q: You crushed your goal at state to finish in the top 40. Have you reset your goals this season?

A: Yeah, top 10 would be pretty awesome. That would be my goal for this season, for sure.

Q: Your coach, Anna Geary, said you dialed your summer training back.

A: It was a really laid back summer. Later in the summer I started running a little more, mostly just for fun. I went to a running camp put on by Carrie Tollefson, and she was telling us that she wouldn't even start running until two weeks before the season.

David La Vaque