Definitely not a sprinter

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Savannah Vold, an 8th-grader at Mayo, has advanced to state in cross country. Her dad, Aaron Vold, is a former sprint champion at Mayo who advanced to state in track in the 90s.

Aaron Vold was a very good sprinter when he ran track for Rochester Mayo in the mid-1990s.

In fact, as a junior, he qualified for the state meet in the 100, 200 and 400. That put him in some very good company, too; the only other Mayo athlete to accomplish that feat was former Olympian Mark Lutz.

Years later when his daughter, Savannah Vold, indicated an interest in running, Aaron hoped she would follow in his footsteps as a sprinter.

"It all started last year when she told us that she would like to try running,'' Aaron said. "I said, great. She would make an awfully good sprinter.''

That would make for a pretty good story, but it was not the case. While Aaron said he had no desire to run anything farther than a 400, Savannah pushed the envelope and decided to run for distance.


Good decision? Well, yes.

Savannah Vold, an eighth-grader at Friedell Middle School who runs for Mayo, will be at the starting line for the Class AA state cross country meet Saturday at St. Olaf College in Northfield.

She qualified last week in the Section One, Class AA meet in Owatonna.

"I never thought of her as a distance runner,'' said Aaron, who also qualified for state as a senior in Mayo's 400 relay, "but I'm excited for her. I'm prejudice, obviously, but she has really put in the time and effort to get better.''

Aaron Vold also played football for Mayo and as they say, you can't teach speed.

"The play I remember most was against John Marshall,'' he said. "I ran 76 yards for a touchdown on the first offensive play of the game. I'm not even sure if we won that game.''

After graduation, his running career basically came to an end. But he started boxing in high school and competed in the Upper Midwest Golden Gloves for a couple of years.

"I boxed mostly at welterweight and lightweight,'' he said. "One year I was runner-up.''


He also started started a career in mixed martial arts and fought for seven years before retiring 3 1/2 years ago with a 15-2 record.

"For me,'' he said, "the money wasn't great.''

Vold, 38, is still heavily involved with MMA, teaching, coaching and training at Compound MMA.

Last summer, Savannah often visited the gym.

"She lifted weights, she got a lot stronger,'' Aaron said, "and when we took the fighters over to the track (nearby, Soldiers Field track), she would go along and get in some running.''

Vold was the last qualifier in the section meet, finishing 14th in a time of 15:17.5. She edged out Austin eighth-grader Paiton Schwab for the final spot.

Every meet Vold ran this year, it was a faster time.

This, after running for less than two years. She started in the spring of 2012 while in the seventh grade and that summer entered a few 5Ks.


Last fall, she went out for cross country and was soon running varsity.

She made it to state last year, but only as a spectator, to watch her Mayo teammate Sophie Butterfass compete.

Now it's Vold's turn at state.

"Our workouts have been the same as we used for section,'' said Mayo coach Brett Carroll. "Most of the varsity girls are running along with Savannah this week; we want to keep everything as normal as possible.

"We'll do anything we can in order to keep the nerves down.''

Carroll doesn't know what to expect at state, but he said the experience Savannah gets in Northfield will be invaluable.

"Even when we went as a team two years ago when Riley (Macon) was running, we never talked about winning,'' Carroll said. "Just go and compete, live in the moment and enjoy it. That's what you work for.''

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