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Chip on their shoulder: Titans girls aim for continued ascension while boys look to go back-to-back

The more things change, the more they stay the same for the Dickinson Trinity track and field teams. After a decade leading both Titans squads, longtime leader Craig Kovash will not be the head coach of the girls squad for the 2019 season. That r...

Dickinson Trinity junior Kaden Kuntz sprints towards the finish in the 100-meter dash during the state meet on Saturday, Mey 26 at the MDU Resources Community Bowl. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson Trinity senior Kaden Kuntz sprints toward the finish in the 100-meter dash during the 2018 state meet on Saturday, May 26, at the MDU Resources Community Bowl. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)
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The more things change, the more they stay the same for the Dickinson Trinity track and field teams.

After a decade leading both Titans squads, longtime leader Craig Kovash will not be the head coach of the girls squad for the 2019 season. That responsibility falls on the shoulders of Breanna Sisson, who was promoted after eight years as an assistant.

"He's done a really nice job of helping me transition into the head coach position," Sisson said of Kovash. "We talked about it last season, the possibility of me becoming head coach, and now that I have a teaching position here also, we decided we were going to split the boys and girls."

Sisson teaches physical education at Trinity Elementary. While she will have final say on the decisions made on the girls' side, the coaching dynamic will largely stay the same, as Sisson will continue to work primarily with jumpers and helping with the sprinters.

Nonetheless, Sisson will lead a program that has been on the come-up recently. Improving its state finish in each of the last three seasons, Dickinson Trinity was tied with Rugby for fourth in 2018 with 49 team points.

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The Titans did lose four state qualifiers to graduation; most notably Faith Beck, who captured a state championship in the pole vault as a junior and state crown in the 100-meter hurdles as a senior. The team is still in good shape, though, as it has seven state competitors from a year ago.

"We have really healthy numbers this year, and we have really healthy numbers on every aspect of the track and in the field, so it's really nice to see some strength in each event," Sisson said. "Right now, I don't see one event particular event as more of a strength. I really do see us being able to cover every event and do well in a lot of events."

Of the six state returners, senior Bre Tessier earned the team's highest individual finish last year after placing fourth in the javelin. After helping Trinity to third place in the 4x100 relay and fourth in the 4x200 relay, senior Masy Kuntz also captured fifth in the long jump and 12th in the triple jump.

Another Titan that qualified in 2018 for multiple events is Macy Gress, who competed to a sixth-place finish in the 800-meter run and was 14th in the 1,600 run. Last fall, the senior ran cross country for the first time in her high school career and says her time with the Dickinson High cross country team helped her, although she is more of a middle-distance runner on the track.

"I obviously want to qualify again by time, but I think my main goal is to break the school record in the 800," Gress said. "I'm only three seconds away, and over the years, I've always decreased my time by three seconds. If I can dig a little deeper this year, that'll be a good way to end the season."

While the girls will aim to improve on their top-five finish at state last year, the boys will be looking to hold on to what is theirs. For the fourth time in school history, the Titans were crowned state champions as they paced the competition with 80 team points.

Dickinson Trinity has long been a contender on the boys' side, as the team has finished in the top five in each of the last six years, but this season brings an added element to table as defending champs.

"It's nice and we're really optimistic still about the season," senior Aric Knopik says. "You've got to have a little bit of a chip on your shoulder, at the same time, you've got to be humble about it. Anything can happen throughout any meet, you always have to be worried about injuries, but you just have to take it one meet at a time, and hopefully, we'll get to that goal of another state championship again."

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If the Titans do repeat, Knopik may play a large role. The senior was third in the high jump and fourth in the 300 hurdles at state in 2018. He is the school record holder in each event and has his sights set on a state title in each event as well.

Fellow senior Kaden Kuntz won state titles in three events in 2018, victoring in the 100- and 200-meter races, and the high jump. He is the most decorated returner of eight state qualifiers from a year ago. Kuntz also teamed with graduates Jayden Dolechek, Sean Volesky and junior Ethan Kudrna to a second-place finish in the 4x200 relay.

Kudrna is the lone returner from a 4x400 relay team that finished first last year.

Kovash, who has been the boys head coach since 1992, thinks his team is well-rounded, from sprinters to distance runners and throwers and jumpers.That depth is critical because like the girls squad, the boys have some losses to make up for. Seven state-qualifiers graduated from the championship team last year, including three throwers.

One thrower that returns is senior Issac Fridrich, who last season was 12th in the shot put.

"I'm hoping he's going to surprise people with his distances this year," Kovash said of Fridrich. "That's an area where it would really be nice to solidify some points when we get to that last regional and state level. We have some other throwers that we are hoping for some good things out of."

The Dickinson Trinity track teams pose with their Southwest Region Championship trophy on Saturday, May 19 at the Biesiot Activities Center. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)
The Dickinson Trinity track teams pose with their 2018 Southwest Region Championship trophy on Saturday, May 19 at the Biesiot Activities Center. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)

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