Another Win at West Fargo Invite
BOYS RECAP by Senior Gavin Dorsey
The Red River boys team continued their undefeated season after winning the West Fargo Invite on Saturday. Seven athletes placed inside the varsity top 20, scoring a season-best 25 points overall.
On a 50 degree rainy day, the Riders ran well across all three races. Although no personal records were set among the varsity boys, the team used pack running and a relaxed first mile to win the team title by 44 points. First-mile times were relatively slower across the board, as the majority of the team was practicing running their second mile faster than their first. The varsity boys went out in a 5:38 first mile, almost 30 seconds slower than their first mile last week. The pace was relaxed, but also fast enough to keep all seven runners in the top 30.
“I felt ready to go,” said junior Broden Diederich. “Once we hit the mile mark, you could feel the whole team switch gears into race mode.” However, some athletes thought it was not as easy to switch gears. Junior Ryan Prusak admitted that even though he had more energy, it was extremely difficult to run the second mile faster. “I can’t say racing that way is something I’m used to yet, but I can see how it could help everyone get better,” said Prusak. “It’s smart racing.”
Freshman Matt Rongitsch won the varsity race with a time of 17:05 by negative-splitting his 5K. After getting outkicked by his teammate, sophomore Hunter McHenry, last week, Rongitsch turned the tables by passing McHenry with under 800 meters to go, opening the gap all the way to the line to clinch the win. “The last mile was definitely a painful mile,” Rongitsch said. “I had overtaken Hunter after he and I stayed neck and neck for a while, and he stayed pretty close behind me for the remainder of the race. After I passed him and Quinn Roehl from Central, I wanted to go for the first place guy, but it felt like he was speeding up and I was slowing down. I started going faster up to him and eventually I got some good distance.” With five middle school titles to his name, Rongitsch, accustomed to winning, enjoyed his first varsity victory.
McHenry finished right behind Rongitsch, running 17:11 by out-sprinting a West Fargo runner to claim second place for the second consecutive week. Following McHenry were sophomore Dameon Zenawick (5th- 17:37), Diederich (7th- 17:38), Prusak (10th- 17:59), senior Gavin Dorsey (12th- 18:01), and freshman Jonah Dafoe (18th- 18:22). Of the group, Rongitsch, McHenry, and Diederich ran faster their second mile, with Zenawick, Prusak, and Dorsey recording near-even splits. The rain started to fall around an hour before race time, leaving the course uneven and muddy. Runners were forced to round the many corners extremely slowly to prevent wiping out.
“The ground definitely impacted everyone on the course,” said Diederich. “It was muddy and slippery; even with long spikes, slowing down at corners was necessary.” Diederich explained the difficulty in catching up to the runner in front of him when he had to repeatedly slow down so he didn’t fall. Despite the challenging conditions on the course, the Riders proved victorious.
Next week, the team will travel to Bismarck for their biggest challenge so far. Fourteen of the nineteen Class A schools will be there, and among them are the fastest runners in the state. Rongitsch looks forward to seeing how he stacks up in the state. McHenry believes the race is a chance to prove Red River is worthy of its #3 ranking in the coaches polls. Prusak sees it as a great opportunity to race the fastest teams from the West.
Diederich believes the team is primed to break out. Even after winning their first three meets, he believes this Red River team is only getting better. “I know there are plenty of runners on the team right now, including myself, who feel that they can put up faster times than they have so far. With no extreme time constraint on the first mile, I’m excited to see what we will be able to do.”
The junior varsity boys also raced a 5K Saturday, farther than their usual distance of 4K. Freshman Grant Lelm placed second overall with a time of 19:11, narrowly missing out on his first individual title. Following closely on the heels of Lelm was fellow freshman Jake Jenkins (3rd- 19:13).
“I personally think that there wasn’t too much of a difference between running the 4K and 5K,” said Jenkins, who added that the slower first mile, as well as Lelm, helped him keep the pace. “I could really start to feel it in the extra kilometer though.”
Sophomore Tanner Schiller was third for the junior varsity squad, placing sixth with a time of 19:33. Both Jenkins (2 min 20 sec PR) and Schiller (26 sec PR) set new personal bests, having not run a 5K in over a year. Lelm, Jenkins, and Schiller currently hold the eighth, ninth, and tenth fastest 5K times on the team. Freshman Matt Evans (12th- 19:55) and junior Om Panda (20th- 20:33) also finished in the top 20. The team placed second overall with 42 points. The junior varsity runners will also run a 5K at Bismarck.
The middle school team remained undefeated after placing five athletes in the top 20 to score 42 points as well. 8th-grader Carter Rydland placed second overall, running a translated 3K time of 10:51. Micah Larsen-Schmidt was shortly behind (4th- 11:04), followed by Elijah Dafoe (10th- 11:34), Preston Diederich (11th- 11:39), and Kael Berberich (15th- 11:48). The race carried a slew of personal records, including Rydland (29 secs), Larsen-Schmidt (36 secs), Dafoe (10 secs), Diederich (18 secs), Jace Mason (47 secs), Eli Zerr (1 min 9 secs) and Andrew Larsen (1 min 25 secs).
To cap off an excellent competition in the sloppy conditions, one of the best moments of the meet was at the tail end of the middle school race when the remaining members of the boys’ team, including the fellow middle schoolers who had finished moments before, sprinted across the field to cheer on seventh-grader Sam Dvorak for the final 300 meters of the race.
“That is one of the things that I love about this team the most”, Coach Dafoe reflected, “and what makes this sport special.” As a first-year runner, Sam has shown steady improvement throughout the summer and he capped off Saturday’s race with a MONSTER 3 minutes and 31 seconds personal best improvement.
GIRLS RECAP by Junior Kylie Severson
Running through the rain, cold, and mud, the Riders battled through the West Fargo Invitational this past Saturday. Despite the conditions, Red River “unleashed the red” and had a fantastic meet. At 10:00am, the starting gun went off to signal the first race on the course was beginning. This was the girl’s varsity race; a 5k.
Six Red River runners competed in said race. Although none of the girls set personal records (PR), the girls still raced with all that they had. Emily Nelson (grade 9) completed the race first for the Riders and ended with a time of 21:20. Nelson ended up placing 16th overall. Next was Campbell Dorsey (grade 10) who landed herself the 21st spot overall. 21:32 was Dorsey’s final time. Gracia Larsen-Schmidt (grade 11) ran 21:39 placing 3rd for the Riders and 24th overall. 59 seconds behind Larsen-Schmidt, Claire Lapp (grade 11) crossed the finish line with a time of 22:38. Lapp was the 4th runner for Red River and 41st for the race. Narria Neubert (grade 10) finished 44th overall and 5th on the team with a time of 23:08. Finishing 47th overall with a time of 23:26, Liz Simon was the 6th and final runner to complete the race for the riders. The varsity runners placed 5th as a team.
Next to strike the course was the junior varsity 5k. For most of the four girls who ran, this was their first 5k all season, setting great benchmarks for them to improve. Anne Kleven (grade 10), with a phenomenal kick at the end of the race, ran a final time of 25:12 completing the race in 23rd place overall and 1st for the girls. Next was Kylie Severson (grade 11). Being it was Severson’s second race of the year due to injury in Jamestown, Severson ran 25:21 being 2nd for the team and 27th place. A few moments after Severson, came Zoie Krump (grade 10) who ran 26:08 placed 32nd overall and 3rd for the JV girls. Angelica Knudson (grade 10) was the final JV girl to finish the race and ended up with a time of 31:43 and placed 54th overall. The JV girls placed 6th all together.
The last race was the middle school race, a 3k. This race was very fun to spectate because of all of the new PRs that were set by over half of the athletes. Morgan Hartze (grade 8) battled for the first place ribbon against a Fargo North athlete and won by a mere o.18 seconds, setting a new PR of 35.28 seconds and with a final time of 11:53. Rylie Lelm (grade 7) also PR’d by 10.34 seconds and finished with a time of 13:04. Another athlete who set a new PR was Payton Bergeron (grade 7) running a time of 13:31 ran a new PR of 52.66 seconds. Next PR was Brooke Dorsey (grade 7), cutting down 40.72 seconds from her previous 3k and with a final time of 14:07. Emerson Byron (grade 7) also set a PR as well of 25.42 seconds and completing with a new time of 14:09. After Meridith McCarthy (grade 8) set a huge PR (2:30) last meet at the Grand Forks Invitational, she did not stop there. McCarthy set yet again another PR of 18.41 seconds meaning her new time is 14:45. Only one second away from McCarthy, Katelyn Colbert (grade 8), set a PR of 50.44 seconds and now has a new time of 14:46. The largest PR of the meet of 1:30 belongs to Grace Blackburn (grade 7), who now has a time of 16:22. The last PR of the many goes to Selena Wu (grade 8) of 34.44 seconds and with a new time of 16:30. The middle school girls placed 2nd overall.