Midgets at midseason point: DHS prepares for state meet preview in Valley City
The cross country season is a process, whether it's putting on more miles or sharping the mental edge.
Though the first half of the season for the Dickinson High boys and girls cross country teams has been solid, head coach Brittany Messer knows there is still room for improvement.
The Midgets will get a preview of the state meet traveling to the Valley City Invitational at 11 a.m. Saturday. The Valley City course is the host site of the state cross country meet.
"I've been impressed, but I still think that there are still improvements to be made on both the boys and girls side," Messer said. "We need more of a mental edge going into WDA and state, but this week is really going to be the weekend that tells us where we are at with the rest of the state."
On the girls side, the Midgets haven't had much to complain about. Dickinson is currently ranked fourth in the state and placed runner-up at the Mandan Invitational last Saturday.
"The season has gone really well," Dickinson freshman Elizabeth Yoder said. "We've met all our goals so far.
"(The Valley City Invitational) is probably one of the most important meets this season. We'll get to run the course and we'll see where everyone else is at in the state."
One key to the Midgets' success early in the season has been the training during the offseason. Messer said there wasn't any hesitation putting on early mileage.
"It was definitely a plus for a lot of the girls that came in base mileage," she said. "We could run them up to their peak mileage without worrying about injuries."
Another bright spot -- especially for an underclassman -- has been the veteran leadership. The Midgets have four senior leaders in Shannon Stockert, Taylor Ihmels, Kelli Pavlicek and Katie Pavlicek.
Though there is plenty of leadership to go around, Yoder said the team works extremely well together not only at practice, but during meets. The Midgets signature to run as a pack has helped multiple runners place in the top 20 in every meet.
"Our seniors are awesome," Yoder said. "We are all supportive of each other and constantly encouraging each other. It just pushes us to go a little bit further."
On the boys side, Jackson Binstock claimed his first varsity win during the Mandan Invitational. The junior was ranked No. 3 going into the race.
Binstock believes the Valley City Invitational is going to be a tell-tale sign of where everybody stands in the state.
"I'm happy with the season, for the most part," Binstock said. "I'd like to get my times down a little bit more and I just have to run more miles to get those down."
Though the rest of the runners on the boys side have been far from Binstock during each invitational, the junior runner can see improvements every day in practice.
"They just have to keep working every day and everyone else will eventually get up there," Binstock said.