Grand Forks Red River’s cross country depth proved too much for the field Saturday as the Roughriders won the Eastern Dakota boys title at Lincoln Park. The Riders finished with 35 points. West Fargo Sheyenne was second with 71 points.
The Riders had six runners earn all-conference honors as they had five placers in the top 11 to claim their fourth title in the past six years.
The individual race was won by West Fargo Sheyenne’s Jacob Knodle with a 5K time of 15 minutes, 32 seconds. Fargo North’s Caleb Yokom placed second, followed by Red River’s Hunter McHenry.
Red River finished with their second through fifth runners in the next eight spots. Dameon Zenawick placed fifth, Broden Diederich sixth, Matthew Rongtisch 10 th, and Ryan Prusak 11th. Jonah Dafoe was also awarded all-conference honors by finishing 16th.
Grand Forks Central’s Quinn Roehl led the Knights with a ninth-place finish.The Knights finished fifth in the team division.
After an entire season of limited meet size due to COVID-19 restrictions, Saturday was the first time that all 10 EDC schools were able to race each other together. Meets previously had been restricted to only three to four teams, making the EDC race the most competitive of the season.
“It was awesome,” McHenry said. “I haven’t seen a lot of these guys in the same race all together. It just helped everyone perform a lot better and come out and have a great day.”
Roehl agreed. “It’s kind of been a struggle mentally, not having nearly as many people to get to run with in the mini meets, but we were really excited coming into this meet,” Roehl said. “We all had a good time, especially running against more competition.”
The race started faster than usual for both Red River and Central. As early as half a mile in, the lead pack separated itself from the second group, led by the state-leading Knodle. Despite finishing with five runners in the top 11, McHenry was the only Roughrider in the front pack of eight runners one mile into the race.
Diederich credited his team’s strong second half of the race to the under-control start it had, saying, “The mile’s only the first part of the race.
“Naturally, you want to speed up, you want to be in that lead pack. “But I knew everyone else went out flying. We went out, we hit our perfect time for our first mile. I knew we were on pace, although I knew we’d have some work to do to start running down the rest of the people.”
Roughrider coach Richard Dafoe was named the East Region coach of the year.
GF Central girls take third
The Grand Forks Central girls rode an overall strong performance to a third-place team finish at the EDC Championship on Saturday. Led by freshman Claire Hynek, the Knights had three runners earn all-conference, with all three running season-best times.
Hynek placed fourth followed by her teammates Lauren Harrison in 13th and Marie Derenne in 16th. Red River’s Gracia Larsen-Schmidt also was awarded all-conference honors, finishing 10th as the Riders placed seventh as a team.
Fargo North won the team title with a score of 53 points after placing five runners in the top 20. West Fargo Sheyenne’s Onnica Stansbury was the individual champion with a time of 19:04.
Hynek said she benefited from the larger meet as well. The race also started out as a large pack at the front. As the race went on, the group of frontrunners dwindled. With only a kilometer to go, the group had only four runners left — the top three finishers and Hynek.
As they started picking up the pace, Hynek said she felt she had to push herself harder in order to not fall off.
“(I was thinking) I have to stay with them and that I can stay with them,” Hynek said. “I just kept telling myself that I can do it and be mentally tough.”
Larsen-Schmidt added the race was more competitive with more people, but something was still missing. Sophomore Lauren Dosch, in her first year on the team, led the Riders for most of the season before suffering a fractured fibula last week.
“She’s put in so much work,” Larsen-Schmidt said of her injured teammate. “It’s really motivating to see her out in front of us and kind of have a goal.”
Despite not having that red jersey stripe to chase after, Larsen-Schmidt still performed her best race of the season, earning her first all-conference award. She is the third Roughrider since 2016 to be named to the all-conference team.
“I was just focusing on the girl in front of me,” she said. “I felt like the people in front of me weren’t moving any faster than I was and I just needed to surge up a little bit. I’m really glad I found that energy.”
“West Fargo Sheyenne runner Caeden Johnson (656) and Red River’s Dameon Zenawick (560) are neck-and-neck as they near the final stretch of the Eastern Dakota Conference cross country championship finish line Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Park.”