JAMESTOWN, N.D. — After needing a tie-breaker to win the North Dakota Class A state girls cross country championship a season ago, Fargo Davies elected to give itself some breathing room this year.
Megan Lundstrom led a group of four top-20 finishers with a fourth-place finish, and the Eagles captured their third state crown in a row with a score of 66 points Saturday. Davies came in well ahead of runner-up Grand Forks Central, which had a score of 118.
Even though they had comfortably secured the top spot, some team members weren't exactly brimming with confidence as they went to the post-race awards podium.
"I kind of thought we'd gotten second," Lundstrom said. "There were some people that really surprised us and the teams did so well. Every year it's been very, very nerve-wracking and this year was the same."
A major reason for the victory was the performance of Lundstrom, who ran a season-best 18 minutes, 40.38 seconds enroute to being named the Powerade senior athlete of the year.
Other Eagle scorers were McKenna Lovehaug in 10th (19:03.03), Bridget Henne in 11th (19:06.10), Payton Lane in 18th (19:32.35) and Mckenzie Burian in 23rd (20:02.14).
This now marks five titles for Davies since 2010. And though Davies will lose the services of numerous key seniors, a clear standard has been set, one Coach Jason Edwards expects to carry over into the ensuing seasons.
"We're going to lose some tremendous, irreplaceable senior leadership, but we've got kids that are going to step in next year," said Edwards, who was named the state's coach of the year. "It's a different group of kids but we'll have that same goal in mind when they show up for summer running."
Meghan Ford of Jamestown was the individual champion in 17:56.82.
North's Luz places fifth
Saturday proved a bittersweet end for the career of Fargo North senior Alex Luz.
Two weeks after winning an Eastern Dakota Conference title, Luz's aspirations of winning a state crown went unfulfilled, as he took fifth in 16:12.48.
"Obviously my expectation was to win," Luz said. "Certain things just didn't work out. It's unfortunate but I left it all out there."
Though pleased with his effort and the accomplishments of his career, Luz admits it was difficult to come off the course for the last time.
"It's super sad right now," he said. "Literally what I was thinking down the final stretch was 'This is my last time in a Spartan uniform.'"
Luz wasn't the only top-10 runner for North, which placed fifth with 164 points. Teammate Caleb Yokom took ninth in 16:19.37.
West Fargo Sheyenne's Jacob Knodle also finished in the top-10, running a seventh-place time of 16:16.44.
Williston claimed the state title with 58 points, while Bismarck's Sean Korsmo took first in 15:45.42.
Huber wins Class B boys title
Within a span of 60 seconds, the elation and physical toll of high-level distance running was on fully display in Edgeley/Kulm senior Isaac Huber.
As he crossed the finish line ahead of the field in the Class B boys race, a jubilant Huber played to the crowd, throwing his fists up in celebration. Roughly one minute later, he was vomiting.
"Usually it takes about two minutes," Huber said afterwards. "I tried to hold it, but I couldn't."
Holding back clearly wasn't on Huber's mind Saturday, as he capped a stellar career by bringing home the first cross country state title in school history, running a 15:48.46.
He also got payback on New Town's Robert White (2nd, 16:05.63) and Javien Hale (3rd, 16:14.30), who finished ahead of him at last season's race.
Though he got the better of them on this day, Huber says he looks forward to the rivalry continuing during track season.
"The New Town boys and I have been battling for four, five years now," he said. "To beat them, that's respectable. Hopefully, we'll have more battles next spring."
New Town won the team championship for the seventh year in a row and the 13th time since 2004, finishing with 47 points.
Behind a fourth-place finish by Colton Anderson (16:23.04) and a ninth-place run by Chase Fossum (16:46.53) Hillsboro/Central Valley was second with 103.
Baesler, HCV win Class B girls titles
After tearing her ACL in June, most people likely thought Hillsboro/Central Valley's Reagan Baesler wouldn't be winning a third-straight state title this fall.
Baesler wasn't among the doubters.
"There was some points (of doubt) but I knew I couldn't have that mentality," she said. "So I just left it behind me. I said 'Just run.'"
She did just that. After trailing for a good portion of the race, Baesler pushed past Thompson's Lana Krack down the stretch, taking first and leading the Burros to another team championship with a score of 102, 18 better than runner-up Rugby.
It was the seventh-straight title for H/CV and eighth consecutive for Hillsboro, which won the Class B title in 2011 before the schools merged.
Despite falling behind for a good chunk of the race, Baesler said she never lost confidence in her ability to close on a surgically repaired knee, eventually winning in 18:40.97, nearly five seconds faster than Krack
"I knew that she surges," Baesler said. "So I just let her do what she did and just slowly caught up. By the time we got to the hills - we run a lot of hills at practice so (that helps) I gained ground and by the end I just sprinted."
Hoping to come back even stronger next year, Baesler says her main goal is to capture another championship with her teammates.
"Our team has such a great bond together," she said. "This is just the best feeling ever."