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Bowman County capture second-straight cross country state title

The storied cross country program for Bowman County added another trophy to their collection Friday afternoon.

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The entire Bowman County family after winning the state championship in Jamestown. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)

The defending Class B boy’s cross country state champions took to the course Friday afternoon, looking to add another championship to their storied program.

This year’s state championship was held in Jamestown as the Bulldogs successfully defended their title, finishing nearly 50 points ahead of the rest of the field.

The Bowman County boys finished with 58 points, well ahead of second place New Town at 101. Kindred took third with 108.

The Bulldogs’ head coach Jonathan Jahner said that they set a strategy and the team did an excellent job on executing.

“We just concentrated on really getting out strong, staying out of trouble in any corners and settling into our race and boy, the kids did a nice job at that,” Jahner said. “There were over 300 boys in that race. That is a crazy huge race. The course is beautiful, but it funnels down, it just naturally does that.”

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Their lead runner, junior Austin Wanner, finished in fourth at 16:34 and was all smiles, congratulating his fellow runners accomplishing the course. Austin Wanner said that he is already looking forward to next season and continuing their established reputation.

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Taking fourth, Austin Wanner led Bowman County in the state championship in Jamestown. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)

“I really don’t want our program to just be a flash in the pan, I want to think of us as a legacy … It’s a real honor to get to carry that on,” Wanner said. “It's not really just our victory, but all of Bowman's victory.”

Finishing seventh with a time of 16:54 was junior Caleb Sarsland, who battled an injury earlier in the season, but found the strength to carry on through the final meet.

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Caleb Sarsland keeps a steady pace, finishing seventh in the cross country state championship in Jamestown. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)

“I myself have been injured half of the season. I did doubles every week to get better and get to where I needed to be,” Sarsland said. “ I didn’t want to let my team down. I knew I had to be here for them because they had been there for me … the trophies are great, but at the end of the day I wouldn’t want to be sharing it with anybody else other than these guys.”

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Austin Wanner’s younger brother, Taylor Wanner, a freshman, finished in 11th at 17:05 and was determined to make his brother’s dream a reality with his three remaining years in the program.

“I just want to keep running,” Taylor Wanner said. “The family aspect that we have is just amazing. Our seniors who have come and gone have helped this program a lot.”

The individual winner was senior Ian Busche of Beulah and was also awarded the Outstanding Senior Athlete of the season.

The girl’s championship saw Rugby taking first with a score of 102 points. Finishing second was Kindred at 148, just six points over third place May-Port CG at 154.

The Bowman County girl’s team took eighth place with their lead runner being sophomore Jaci Fischer, finishing 22nd with a time of 20:48.

Jahner looked back on the season and gave all the glory to his athletes, praising their determination to bring home another state championship to continue their dominance in the Class B division.

The Bulldogs have a notable history in Class B cross country, with 41 combined state titles between the boy’s and girl’s teams. The girl’s team, which boasts 25 championships, by far the best mark in Class B, won each state meet from 1979-1990, with their most recent title coming in 2005.

On the boy’s side, they’ve won 17 times, including this year, which now ties New Town for the most state titles in Class B.

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“It feels good. It has been a long season of work that these kids put in and to watch what they did everyday in preparation for this one day and them coming out to preform is really special,” Jahner said “It’s fun to watch that culminate with the season ending, no matter how we’d finish, but it is a little extra sweet when you win.”

Boys team results - 36 teams

1st - Bowman County, 58

5th - Buelah, 207

9th - Killdeer, 322

Top area finishers

4 - Austin Wanner, Bowman County, 16:39; 5 - Owen Duttenhefner, Killdeer, 16:47, 7 - Caleb Sarsland, Bowman County, 16:54; 11 - Taylor Wanner, Bowman County, 17:05; 14 - Gavin Scott, Bowman County, 17:15; 19 - Jekori Dahlen, Killdeer, 17:24; 22 - Gabe Sarsland, Bowman County, 17:38; 34 - Johan Njos, Bowman County, 18:17

Girls team results - 26 teams

8 - Bowman County, 251

12 - Killdeer, 327

Top area finishers

18 - Abbey Hardersen, Killdeer, 20:39; 22 - Jaci Fischer, Bowman County, 20:48; 31 - Kenley Bowman, Bowman County, 21:07

Josiah C. Cuellar was born in San Angelo, Texas, a small rural community in the western part of the state known for its farming, ranching and beautiful Concho River. A Texas A&M San Antonio graduate specializing in multi-media reporting, Cuellar is an award winning photographer and reporter whose work focuses on community news and sports.
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