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Dschaak cherishing final race

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson High senior Gabe Dschaak competes on Sept. 8 at the Becki Wells Invitational cross country meet at Dickinson's Heart River Golf Course.

There's no surprise for first-year head coach James Mousseau about the type of runner Dickinson High senior Gabe Dschaak has become.

Dschaak will step onto the Heart River Golf Course for the final cross country meet of his high school career at North Dakota Class A state cross country championship meet starting at 2:15 p.m. Saturday.

"It's going to be very powerful emotionally," Dschaak said. "It's my last meet of my whole high school career and it's going to be the ending of a great chapter for me.

"I can leave on great terms because I know the team is bound for great things."

Mousseau, who was an assistant coach under former head coach Shawn Leiss for two seasons, has seen Dschaak transform from a quiet runner to a strong vocal leader in practice and at meets.

"This year Gabe has really come into his own as a leader," Mousseau said. "He's been a voice of calmness. He gets the guys pumped up. Now that he's in this leadership role, he does a great job."

Dickinson sophomore Collin Bren, who finishes with Dschaak near the top of the Midgets runners, said they feed off each other extremely well.

"He's a big motivator for me," Bren said. "He's always pushing me and I'm trying to push him. We're usually neck-in-neck in races."

At the beginning of the season, Mousseau had every runner fill out a personal goals sheet. Dschaak said he wanted to run a 5K race in less than 17 minutes, 30 seconds. Mousseau knows Dschaak can achieve his goal and more.

"I think he could probably break 17 minutes," Mousseau said. "I want to see him get his season goals and exceed further. Gabe is a great runner."

Dschaak saw an increase in the number of miles he ran each week. However, he knew it would help in the long run.

"Of course," Dschaak said. "Coach Mousseau's workouts during the season really helped out a lot."

One the runners Dschaak hopes to pass down leadership qualities to is sophomore Jackson Binstock, who is ranked No. 2 in the Class A coaches' poll.

"I'm very proud of Jackson," Dschaak said. "He's doing very well and I think he's got a great future."

On the same note, Mousseau wanted Dschaak to be the example of hard work paying off because the Midgets have several sophomores and freshmen.

"What he wants to show the younger kids is that putting in all this work that we have been pays off eventually," Mousseau said. "He told the (runners in) practice on Tuesday that he's going to be kind of a mess afterwards, because he's really going to miss this sport. When you see a kid put in that much heart and soul into a sport like that it leaves a legacy."

Dschaak said his hard work and determination wouldn't have been for an entire support system.

"I just wanted to thank everyone that supported the cross country team and its programs during my four years," Dschaak said. "If it wasn't for them, I don't think I would have run cross country."

Mousseau said not only is Dschaak excited for the state meet, but the rest of the runners have a little more pep in their step with the state meet approaching.

"You can definitely tell they've got some energy to spare," Mousseau said with a smile. "We aren't running quite as much, but just the fact this is one we've been working for all year long."