Midgets motivated for stateThe finish at the West Region meet isn’t haunting the Dickinson boys cross country team anymore.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
The finish at the West Region meet isn’t haunting the Dickinson boys cross country team anymore.
In fact, it has motivated the Midgets for the Class A state cross country meet, which is at 10 a.m. Saturday in Fargo.
“I’ve seen the boys kind of pull together,” Dickinson head coach Shawn Leiss said. “They’re basically practicing with confidence and trying to kind of kindle a fire.”
The distaste with the fifth-place finish as a team was felt by senior runner Vlad Kutka.
“I personally underperformed quite a bit,” Kutka said. “Most of us had a really bad day there and I’m not happy with the way the team did.”
Though Kutka wants to get rid of that distaste, the senior runner has made major strides in the past two year at the state meet. He placed 20th in 2010 after taking 35th in 2009.
“It’s always important heading into a state competition to have leadership,” Leiss said. “A team needs to have someone to rally around and somebody to lead the charge.”
Kutka said it has been a little different now that everyone is looking to him for guidance throughout each race.
“That wasn’t exactly easy for me,” he said. “I’ve been trying to do my best at it.”
Kutka’s best should come at the state meet and he knows the team still has those high expectations of placing in the top three which was set at the beginning of the season.
“We are still looking at those goals and I really believe we can do that with the group of people — if everybody has a good day,” he said.
The girls’ side isn’t lead by a senior, but a junior. Meleah Leiss has been the most consistent runner for the Midgets, finishing first or second on the team at almost every meet this season. She had one third-place finish once.
She’s consistent, she’s a competitor, and she’s gritty,” Shawn Leiss said. “She knows what it takes to set your mind to something and get out and go.”
Meleah Leiss says the girls’ sights are still high for the state meet after finishing fifth during the region meet.
“Since this is the state meet, we all want to PR and run our best, run together as team and run as a big pack,” she said.
Both the boys and girls have toned down their training regimens the past two weeks in preparation for the state meet. Shawn Leiss hopes it brings a sense of freshness to the team.
“We have tapered back this week,” he said. “People are looking real fresh, real strong in practice and that’s the way we want to feel at this point in the year.”
Both the boys and girls teams also have a solid freshman runner.
Jackson Binstock hasn’t just been following the trail of Kutka, he has been pushing the senior captain.
“I like having Jackson around, because he’s another fast guy to run with,” Kutka said. “He’s someone that I count on passing the leadership of the team down to when I graduate.”
This was Emily Tyrell’s first season running cross country. The freshman picked up the pace and made a direct impact early on in the season placing 13th at the Becki Wells Invitational.
“It’s really fun running with her, because she pushes us all and sets the pace,” Meleah Leiss said. “She’s really a leader in herself.”
The Bismarck High boys’ are the easy pick to win coming into the state meet, but Shawn Leiss believes its going to come down to wire.
“Bismarck High is a strong favorite,” he said. “They’re ranked anywhere from second to 11th in the nation. I really believe second through seventh place is going to be a rock fight.”