Hunting for October: New coach takes over Dickinson cross country with mind set on state meetJames Mousseau, Dickinson High’s new cross country coach, isn’t shy about saying he has some big shoes to fill.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
James Mousseau, Dickinson High’s new cross country coach, isn’t shy about saying he has some big shoes to fill.
The Midgets boys and girls teams embark on a season where there’s literally two specific dates in mind — the West Region meet and the Class A state meet.
“Moose made it very clear that we’re not training for the meets coming up,” Dickinson High senior Meleah Leiss said. “We’re training for state. Our first couple meets might be a little rocky, because we’ve been putting a lot of work in and we’re pretty sore. We’re just going for Oct. 27.”
Dickinson hosts the state meet at Heart River Golf Course on Saturday, Oct. 27. They open their season today at Jamestown’s Hillcrest Golf Course.
Mousseau takes over the reins from Shawn Leiss, who was Dickinson’s boys and girls head coach for five years, as head coach. Mousseau couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity.
“This is something I’ve kind of waited on for a while,” said Mousseau, who was an assistant coach for Dickinson the last two seasons. “With running being a part of my life for so long, I knew I wanted to be a head coach. To have this position is really like a dream job.”
The batch of runners Mousseau has to work with on the boys and girls side differ from a team with high potential and a team with solid returners.
“We came in a little bit out of shape and they admitted to that,” Mousseau said of the girls team. “Overall as a group, I think they are going to have a much more successful season than last year. They set a goal of being top four.
“There’s a lot of talent (on the boys team), it’s just developing it. They know our long-term goal is state and WDA, so really what we’re going to do is progress, get stronger and better until those meets.”
Leading the way on the boys side is returning all-state runner Jackson Binstock. The sophomore has been working hard in the offseason to improve on his 18th-place finish at the state meet last year.
“I ran mainly with Vlad (Kutka) this offseason,” Binstock said. “We ran a lot of his college workouts that he’s been doing. Its more miles, not really any fast workouts. I didn’t start doing faster workouts until I got closer to the start of the season.”
The Midgets lost four seniors from last year that helped the team finish as runner-up to nationally ranked Bismarck High at the Class A state meet.
The Midgets have sophomores Collin Bren and Jacob Kuntz returning, along with seniors Gabe Dschaak, Zachary Obrigewitch and Colby Wanner. Dylan Gress, a senior at Dickinson Trinity, is returning to cross country after a brief hiatus.
“Dylan Gress is going to be phenomenal,” Mousseau said. “He didn’t go out last year, but he was out the year before.”
Dickinson senior Austin Mack won’t be completing in cross country this year and will focus his attention on playing soccer for the defending Class A state champions Bismarck Century. However, Mack has been practicing with the team to stay in shape for soccer.
On the girls side, Leiss and Shelby Stoltz are the team’s returning seniors.
Dickinson has a solid group of juniors that include Kelli Pavlicek, Katie Pavlicek, Morgan Kuntz and Taylor Ihmels. Sophomore Emily Tyrell, who is from Richardton and finished near the top of many meets last season, is also back.
“We’re really optimistic for the season,” Leiss said. “Last (season’s) state cross country (meet) left kind of a bad taste in our mouth. We want to come back and hopefully do a little bit better.”
That bad taste was an 11th-place finish at the state meet.
Leiss and company don’t want to recreate that experience and are using last year as motivation to finish in the top four.
“Personally, I don’t want to end like that again,” Leiss said. “Then as team, we aren’t going to let that fly again.”
The Midgets have a few newcomers on the boys and girls side that came from other states while their parents work in the Oil Patch.
“It’s kind of cool with the oil field bring in these new people,” Mousseau said. “We have no idea where they are at, but at the end of the year it might be something.”
Head coach: James Mousseau (first season)
Last year: Runner-up at Class A state meet.
Returners: Jackson Binstock, So.; Collin Bren, So.; Gabe Dschaak, Sr.; Jacob Kuntz, So.; Zachary Obrigewitch, Sr.
Newcomers: Dylan Gress, Sr.
Losses: Vlad Kukta, Austin Mack (practicing with the Midgets this season, but is playing soccer for Bismarck Century), Michael Porter, Joseph Sickler, Paul Gardner.
Head coach: James Mousseau (first season)
Last year: Placed 11th at Class A state meet
Returners: Meleah Leiss, Sr.; Emily Tyrell, So.; Kelli Pavlicek, Jr.; Morgan Kuntz, Jr.; Katie Pavlicek, Jr.; Shelby Stoltz, Sr.; Alyssa Hanson, Jr.; Taylor Ihmels Jr.
Newcomers: Melissa Martin, Fr.
Losses: Whitney Schatz, Cienna Levorson.