Krumholz following in family footsteps

FAMILY TRADITION — Fairmont Cardinal cross country runner Sarah Krumholz sprints by a Le Sueur-Henderson competitor during the final stages of the Early Bird Invitational on Aug. 24 on the Fairmont High School campus. Krumholz continues the DeVries family’s rich tradition of competing at a high level in cross country in the fall and track & field in the spring. (Photo by Charlie Sorrells)

FAIRMONT — Running might not be for everyone, but the DeVries and Krumholz families have shown it’s for them.

Sarah Krumholz is the next in a line of Fairmont’s talented female runners coming from the family, which started with her mother Chris (DeVries) Krumholz.

Fairmont track & field and cross country coach Bob Bonk said he remembers Chris from when the girls’ program had just begun.

“Chris was our first all-state girl ever,” Bonk said. “That was a very memorable moment when she qualified for state. Really, once Chris started and excelled, the program took off. She and her younger sisters combined to earn 15 varsity letters I think. Andrea DeVries and Leah DeVries were second and third in the state and were on teams that won state. That whole DeVries family kind of expanded to their friends and it really set the tone for the program and it’s been strong ever since.”

Leah, Andrea and Chris still rank high on Fairmont’s all-time points leaders in cross country. Leah is first in Fairmont history, while Andrea is third and Chris moved to 27th after Sarah passed her to move into 25th in 2017.

Sarah said Chris tried to get all six of her older siblings into running, but Sarah was the only one who took to cross country.

“I got into running because of my mom,” Sarah said. “She was really good and she had tried to get my sisters into running, but nobody really took to it so I was kind of the last resort, the last child. She asked me if I would be interested and I wasn’t at first. I hated running. It was mostly my mom, but some of my friends were in cross country, too, so they encouraged me.”

Sarah’s original attitude toward cross country didn’t go unnoticed. Bonk said he knew she didn’t like it much at the beginning, but he’s glad she’s grown to enjoy it.

“Sarah is really the only outstanding distance runner of the seven kids,” Bonk said of Sarah and her siblings. “When she started in eighth grade, she wasn’t real crazy about cross country. She was a below-half placer in races, but between ninth and 10th grade especially, she really turned it on and turned into an all-state runner in 10th and 11th grade.

“It’s been fun to watch her grow and mature and become such a great competitive runner. Probably, she would have been one in junior high who you wouldn’t have predicted.”

Sarah said her mom and aunts don’t talk about the success they had in high school. In fact, Sarah said she learned about her family’s running history from Bonk.

“I didn’t actually know they were so good until I hear Mr. Bonk saying stuff about it,” Sarah said. “They never talk about how good they were in high school. They don’t bring it up ever unless I ask them questions about it. They’re really humble, so I didn’t know until I went and walked down the hall of fame and thought, ‘This is literally all my aunts and my mom everywhere.'”

Sarah said another way she learned about her mom’s and aunts success was through Bonk’s mystery questions at practice.

“We have mystery questions every day,” Sarah said. “Like, who had the fastest time at this course or who has the most points. People will say, ‘Oh, Andrea DeVries or Leah DeVries or Chris DeVries (Krumholz)’ and didn’t even know. Everyone else is studying the questions so they get these answers about my aunts and mom and I didn’t even know.”

Bonk said he remembers the first time he told Sarah about her mom as a runner.

“I always remember Sarah’s first year, she was running the mile as a junior-high girl and she asked me what her mom’s fastest mile was,” Bonk said. “When I told her, she was flabbergasted.”

Bonk said having second-generation runners like Sarah affirms his confidence in the program. He said he’s had a few now and it always makes him happy to see families continue in cross country.

“It’s very affirming when you see siblings or the next generation of people in the program, you feel as a coach that those who you’ve coached already probably benefitted from the program and others in the family want to follow that,” Bonk said. “It’s heartwarming.”

Bonk said the DeVries family has always been encouraging and played a large role in Fairmont cross country.

“In Sarah’s lineage, I can go all the way back to great-grandma who used to come to all the meets and was one of the real strong supporters back in the 1980s,” Bonk said with a laugh. “It’s been a very important family and one I have a very close relationship with.”

Sarah said her family would not have the success it has had without the support of older generations. She said her grandma and grandpa have had big impacts on her, her mom and her aunts.

“They were really supportive of all my aunts and my mom and me,” Sarah said. “My grandma just passed away a few months ago, but she always came to all my meets and was really encouraging. I don’t think any of my aunts or my mom or I would be in cross country if it weren’t for my grandma and grandpa’s support.”

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