Running buddies: These 2 Wolverines can't help but finish races together

No matter how the other starts the race, the finish continues to show these two Wolverine juniors side-by-side.

Bjorn Brunsberg (left) and Lane Hoefs ran toe-to-toe to the finish at the New York Mills race Tuesday, Sept. 14. Photo contributed by Wadena Deer Creek Schools

The Wadena-Deer Creek cross country team does their best to outlast their opponents to the finish line, even when the competition is their own teammates.

Juniors Bjorn Brunsberg and Lane Hoefs know that all too well. These two have finished races together from the beginning of the 2021 season, and their finish times are within a second most every race. In some races, the winner is not more than an arm or nose ahead of the other.

Overall Lane has one race on Bjorn when it comes to winning, but he also ran on his own on September 16 and recorded a time of 17:42. In the year, their best time in a race came during their last race in Glenwood with Hoefs finishing with 17:37 and Brunsberg at 17:38.

For Brunsberg, the sport runs in the family and he began in seventh grade. His dad, Michael Brunsberg, is the coach for the Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines.

“I knew I was going to do it at some point, because my dad was the coach so it was only a matter of time. I enjoy running a lot more than I did when I started,” he said.


Cross country wasn’t the original plan for his teammate, junior Lane Hoefs. Instead his quickness on the court caught the attention of his basketball teammates.

“I was in basketball, and a lot of people were saying I was pretty quick running up and down the courts, so I decided let’s try track. Then some of my teammates from track, they told me that I should join cross country.”

Had he stayed in basketball Hoefs eyes were set on point guard, but now he runs alongside Brunsberg every race.

During the Wadena 5k race at the Whitetail Golf Course Brunsberg started out hot, and that’s part of his gameplan.

“I like to start out fast for everything, that’s how I am, but I guess we just try to work (off) each other and see how it goes,” Brunsberg said.

Lane followed up by saying that “We’re practically at the same speed. We finish every race within 5 seconds.”

On two occasions, both have tied with the first during a meet against New York Mills on September 14, where they recorded a 1st and 2nd place finish at 18:18. On October 7 in Perham, they finished in 7th and 8th place with a time of 18:37.

When asked who would win a race between the two, it all depends on the race and who wants it more.


“It depends on the day really, or how stupid you are in a race if you twist an ankle,” Hoefs said, “I guess it really comes down to the last second. Whoever pulls out in front wins.”

The two just gravitate towards each other. Both do get separated in races, but like magnets end up right next to each other again.

“There were a couple meets where I tried pushing out front, but he’d end up coming back,” Hoefs said.

“I think if we’re sticking together, I think we know that we’re doing well or really bad,” Brunsberg added.

From starting the race in front, to sticking together throughout, how do the two keep their eyes on the prize and also on their opponent?

“Well, there’s certain runners that we know who to look out for, and we know how they like to race, '' Brunsberg said.

“Depending on the course, if we are coming around a 90-degree turn I’ll kind of look back to see where people are placed behind us,” Hoefs added.

Whether it’s knowing where the hills are located, sticking with the pack for a while, or taking a peek behind, the two seem to understand the courses like the back of their hand.


As for the courses themselves, Brunsberg mentioned Melrose and Hoefs pointed to St. John’s as two courses they don’t want to revisit due to tight corners or terrain.

Now that they’ve found their passion in running, and know to be successful at it. How does each keep in shape throughout the season?

It starts with the basics. Staying hydrated, taking it easy the day before a meet, and most importantly, not getting hurt. In the case you do get injured, rest and take an ice bath.

With one year left, Bjorn is aiming to make history.

“No. 1 priority is not to get hurt, and go for the top 5 all-time for Wadena for time-wise,” Brunsberg said. “Perham is our most ideal course, if you’re going to (set a personal record) it’d be there.”

For coach Mike Brunsberg, watching the runners improve is a joy, especially watching his son and daughter Johanna being such strong leaders on the teams. He is grateful to be able to spend time with his kids as both a father and a coach. He’ll soon be watching Johanna graduating to different experiences as a senior this year.

“I think she’s had a good experience overall, and I feel fortunate as a parent,” coach Brunsberg said about his daughter. “It’s an opportunity that not every parent has.”

“My son is a junior and the nice thing about both of them is running is very healthy, and like the rest of the athletes, we want to try to finish strong, which sometimes that’s an effort.”


Whether it’s by family tradition for the Brunsbergs, or due to coincidence for Lane, the runners continue to share a bond on the course and off the course. With sections complete and both Hoefs and Brunsberg qualifying, they now prepare for the state meet at Northfield. The competition is at noon, Saturday, Nov. 6.

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