Riders Win Fork at Home Meet
BOYS RECAP by Senior Gavin Dorsey
The Riders ended a nineteen-year losing streak Thursday after they defeated Grand Forks Central, capturing the elusive Fork. The Traveling Fork, given to the winner of the lowest combined score between Central and Red River at the annual Lincoln Park home meet, had been won by Central every year since 2000, the year of its creation. Thus, the Traveling Fork had never “travelled”.
“I honestly couldn’t believe it had actually happened,” said senior Gavin Dorsey. “These past few years, we’ve been closer than we’ve ever been. After finishing the race, I started adding up our places and I realized we had finally done it. Even though I didn’t have the best race, it was probably the most proud I’d ever been of this team as a whole.”
After narrowly losing by four points last season, the boys team stepped up in a huge way, nearly cutting their point total from last year in half.
Junior Ryan Prusak said one of the team’s biggest goals for this season was to win the Fork, citing how close the team was to winning it last season. “Heading into the meet, I think the team’s hopes were low. But we watched the girls race as we warmed up, and I started to think, “Man, we could really do this.””
The Riders captured their second team title this season, scoring only 35 points to defeat five other eastern conference teams, as well as Minot. The team again placed six athletes in the top 20.
Sophomore Hunter McHenry finished first on the team for the second week in a row, placing second overall with a personal best performance. His time of 16:51 marks a six-second PR, dating back to NXR last season. McHenry currently holds the 12th-fastest time in North Dakota.
“The fork was definitely on my mind, but I mostly wanted to just do well and PR,” said McHenry. “The race felt really great and I was really excited to race at home.”
Immediately following McHenry was freshman Matt Rongitsch, running 16:53 and placing third overall. Rongitsch had a much better meet this week, surpassing his Jamestown time by 56 seconds. Last year, by the end of the season, Rongitsch was Red River’s number two runner and held a PR of 16:47. He was also ranked 8th in his class nationwide by Milesplit.com.
Junior Broden Diederich finished 7th overall with a time of 17:16. The mark was 26 seconds faster than his time at the Grand Forks Invite last season, where he dealt with a hip injury. Sophomore Dameon Zenawick and Prusak placed fourth and fifth on the team after a sprint finish, running 17:27.1 and 17:27.6, respectively. Zenawick (four-second PR) placed eleventh and Prusak placed twelfth overall to complete the top five. Another notable performance came from freshman Jonah Dafoe, who placed twentieth overall in his first varsity race, running 18:13.
“The home meet was a great place to do it,” said Dafoe about his first race on varsity. “It definitely helped me calm down that I knew the course and what to expect.” Dafoe added that he was glad that he could contribute to Red River’s first-ever Fork win.
Following their performance at Jamestown, the previously unranked Red River boys moved up to fourth in the statewide “Coaches Poll”. With another win at their home invite, the Riders have proved they are there to stay. However, the team is not done yet, and according to McHenry, they’re just getting warmed up. With an upcoming meet in Bismarck in two weeks against the state’s top teams, the Riders have to step up to show they’re a team to be reckoned with. “I am much more focused on Bismarck than I am the West Fargo meet,” said Prusak. “A lot of important teams are going to be there. I’m excited to see where we are in comparison to them. You never truly know until you go head-to-head.”
Dorsey added that depth was the team’s strength. “If you look at this week’s results, we put seven guys in front of Sheyenne’s fifth. Putting seven athletes in front of Central’s second was one of the main reasons we won the Fork. Next to Century, we’re one of the deepest teams in the state.” The team’s confidence is riding high, and Diederich believes the team has a lot of potential. “Winning the Fork definitely shows what we can do, and I think we’re all ready for Bismarck to show that we can do even better.”
The Red River junior varsity and middle school teams also ran exceptionally well Thursday, claiming the team titles in both divisions. The junior varsity squad was led by freshman Jake Jenkins, who placed second overall. Also placing in the top 20 were sophomore Tanner Schiller (4th), freshman Zach Kraft (5th), freshman Matt Evans (8th), and sophomore Owen Reilly (19th). Every single JV athlete set a new personal best.
After running a 4k last week at Jamestown, the middle schoolers moved down to the 3k race at the home meet. Carter Rydland, a first-year athlete, placed third overall with a performance worthy of a 12th place ranking on Red River’s squad, followed by Kael Berberich (8th), Micah Larsen-Schmidt (9th), Elijah Dafoe — first seventh-grader across the finish line (10th), Preston Diederich (12th), and Joe Quinn (19th). For most of these athletes, it was their first time running a 3k. Returning 8th graders Kael Berberich (45 second PR) and Preston Diederich (1 minute 7 second PR) showed significant improvement from last season.
GIRLS RECAP by Junior Kylie Severson
On Thursday, August 29, the Red River Riders did something for the first time in history. For twenty years, Red River and Grand Forks Central battled for a traveling fork, a trophy that Central had won for its whole existence until Thursday. The Riders defeated their cross-town rival, Central, and took the fork home. Red River girls did very well for their second meet of the season. The Grand Forks invitational had three races that they could compete in, a middle school 3k race, a junior varsity 4k, and a varsity 5k race.
The middle school girls raced first, starting off the meet. For many girls, this was their first time running said distance, however, the girls had one PR (personal record) set. Meridith McCarthy (grade 8) set a monster PR of 2:30, running 15:04 and placing 46th. Some other mentions from this race were the two other girls who finished within the top 20. Rylie Lelm (grade 7), after a fantastic race at Jamestown, completed the Grand Forks race in 10th place, running the 3k distance for the first time. Her time was 13:15 and she finished 1st for the team. Finishing 16th overall with a time of 13:26, Addison Fargo (grade 7) ran her first-ever cross country race. She landed herself the number 2 spot on the middle school girls team.
The next race to step foot on the course was the JV race. There were only 4 girls who ran this race and 2 of the 4 PR’d! Running her second race ever, McKenna Emineth (grade 9) had large PR of 2:23 and ran with confidence. Zoie Krump (grade 10) also had a big PR of 51 seconds.
Despite the fact that none of the Varsity girls PR’d or placed in the top 20, 5 of the 7 girls who competed were the point scorers for the travelling fork. Morgan Hartze (grade 8) finished 1st for the girls team with a time of 21:13 and had an excellent kick at the end of her race. Next for the girls team was Emily Nelson (grade 9) running a 21:15, which was an improvement from her Jamestown time. Campbell Dorsey (grade 10), finishing only 1 second behind Nelson, ran 21:16 and was 3rd on the team. Not too far behind Dorsey came Gracia Larsen-Schmidt (grade 11) who ran 21:25 and completed the race being the 4th point scorer for the girls. The last girl who contributed to the victory of the fork was Claire Lapp (grade 11), who ran 22:23.
From winning the sacred fork to having a few monster PR’s, the Grand Forks Invitational was a huge success for the Riders. We are all very excited to grow as athletes and keep improving!
GIRLS ATHLETES OF THE MEET
Morgan Hartze (grade 8)
Emerson Byron (grade 7)
Honorable mention: Brooke Dorsey