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Boys cross country spotlight: Lutheran St. Charles' Lind puts on a show at Gans Creek

Boys cross country spotlight: Lutheran St. Charles' Lind puts on a show at Gans Creek

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It felt a little surreal Saturday morning for Lutheran St. Charles cross country coach Elizabeth Fruend.

More than 1,000 miles away from her team, she still got to watch live video as Cougars senior Caleb Lind turned in one of the area's best performances in recent seasons.

"Thank goodness for Prime Time Timing because I got to watch it live as it happened," Fruend said. "I called him and was like, 'Oh my goodness, Caleb!' "

On her computer screen, the third-year Lutheran St. Charles coach saw Lind shatter his own school record with a blazing time of 15 minutes and 9.3 seconds in the Gans Creek Classic's Gold Division at Gans Creek Cross Country Course in Columbia.

Lind finished second overall behind individual champion Connor Burns of Southern Boone (15:05). Their times are the two fastest on 5-kilometer courses in Missouri this season.

"I don't know what got into me, I just had a really good race," Lind said. "I don't know what happened. Good temperature with a lot of good racers who kind of dragged me through it. I raced well tactically."

Fruend was watching from Jacksonville, Florida, with her son Travis Fruend, who is a member of the Jacksonville University cross country team.

The Cougars coach saw Lind hit key marks in the first four kilometers before he poured it on in the final kilometer.

"Every coach has that dream runner and I got it right away," Fruend. "Every coach dreams of having that talented runner and I've been blessed to have it right from the get go." 

Lind demolished his personal best and school record of 15:51.2, set a week earlier during an eighth-place finish at the Heartland Cross Country Classic in Pella, Iowa.

His 15:09.3 was the area's fastest 5K time since Lafayette's Devin Meyrer ran a 15:06.8 at the Chile Pepper Festival in Fayetteville, Ark., on Oct. 3, 2015. Meyrer now is a standout at the University of Michigan.

A big shift for Lind has been a change to his race strategy. Instead of shooting out like a rabbit and staking himself to the lead early, he gradually built up until the end, where he made his move. 

"I didn't make a surge towards the front earlier when it doesn't matter as much, I waited until those final two kilometers," Lind said.  

The Gans Creek course is the same one where the state meet has been contested since 2019.

Last season, Lind finished fifth individually in the Class 3 state meet and helped the Cougars to a runner-up team finish.

One of his first calls afterward was to his coach. 

"The first thing he said was, 'I couldn't have done this without you coach,' " Fruend said. "That tugged at the heartstrings. He's just so disciplined and so consistent with a passion for the sport."

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