Bereket Loer crossed the finish line in 17:00.74 at the Park Region Conference Meet as the winner for Wadena-Deer Creek Tuesday, Oct. 15, a feat that lifted a weight off his shoulders.

“It was pretty cool, because I have been the runner up the past three years,” Loer said. “Coming into the race I had a feeling that’s where I needed to be, but to finally do it felt pretty good.”

Finishing in second place the past three years in the conference meet gave Loer something to strive for in the offseason. He worked harder, ran more miles and the results have shown as he has won three other races along with the conference.

“It all started at the end of last year,” Loer said. “I wanted to train harder and run a lot more miles which put me in a better position for this year. Just staying locked and focused in practices and taking it to the next level and giving everything because it’s the last year I have.”

Wadena-Deer Creek coach Mike Brunsberg noticed Loer’s mindset coming into the race was to make sure he did not finish second a fourth time.

“He was not to be denied,” Brunsberg said. “He is a gamer. He’s one that can make the special moments happen.”

Brunsberg noted Loer has always been a gamer. When he coached him in seventh grade baseball, Loer hit a game-winning home run in the Mid-State Conference Championship.

In his freshman year, it was a teammate who finished ahead of him at the Park Region Meet. Burnsberg said at that time Loer was just feeling out the sport and getting second as a freshman was impressive.

Loer credits his coaches and teammates for helping him along the way this season.

“He gives us the best possible workouts we could possibly have,” Loer said of his coach. “My teammates they run right next to me in workouts and push me to be better every single day.”

Loer said the best part of the season is how close he is with his teammates.

“Every single workout it comes down to the last rep to see who finishes in front,” he said. “I’m excited to see how that does in the section.”

When Loer first joined cross-country, it was to get in shape for basketball. As he found success in the sport he realized how much he has enjoyed cross-country. However, he sees himself mainly as a track athlete.

“I really enjoy basketball a lot, but cross-country and track I find a lot of success in,” he added.

Despite the long-distance training he does in cross-country, as a track athlete he is a sprinter.

“The sprinting comes a little more natural to him,” Burnsberg said. “He is definitely multi-talented, more so than any other runner I can think of in our school history to do the short and long distances well.”

Burnsberg adopted a slogan for his team “joy of running” which he hopes his runners can also adopt. He has seen Loer take that slogan to heart in the way he has performed his senior season.

“You can sense when he is out there that there is fulfillment and he is using one of his gifts,” Brunsberg said. “He’s really grown into a distance runner.”

Loer plans to continue running in college. He’s been contacted by schools, but hasn’t made a decision yet.

Loer’s dedication and focus are what may separate him from the rest of the field.

“All the hard practices, they may not be very fun at the time, but you have to look at the bigger picture,” Loer said. “Overall, being focused on the end goal and not quitting.”