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Midgets want strong start at state meet

Dickinson cross country head coach Shawn Leiss is looking for a strong start from his runners at the Class A state meet Saturday at Hillcrest Golf Course in Jamestown.

Dickinson High junior Whitney Schatz
Press Photo by Dustin Monke Dickinson High junior Whitney Schatz, left, races against a Bismarck runner during the Becki Wells Invitational on Aug. 28 at Heart River Golf Course. Schatz leads the fourth-ranked Midgets girls cross country team into Saturday's state meet in Jamestown.

Dickinson cross country head coach Shawn Leiss is looking for a strong start from his runners at the Class A state meet Saturday at Hillcrest Golf Course in Jamestown.

"Generally speaking, we don't want to give up too much real estate early," Leiss said. "Sometimes the leaders open up a lead and it's like a parade with positions not changing much."

Besides that, it comes down to mental toughness, Leiss said.

"We have to be willing to accept some pain and discomfort," Leiss said. "If we want to do well, we can't slow down when it starts to hurt a little bit."

Dickinson's girls come into the state meet ranked No. 4 in the coaches poll. Ahead of the Midgets in the rankings are No. 1 Fargo Davies, No. 2 Bismarck High and No. 3 Bismarck Century.

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"We can see there are good teams in front of us," Leiss said. "

Leading the girls is junior Whitney Schatz, who has been the top runner for Dickinson most of the year. She finished 20th at state a year ago.

Her target is Minot High's Brecca Wahlund, the top-ranked Class A girls runner. Wahlund finished 17th at state last year.

"I want to stay right behind Brecca," Schatz said. "I've supposedly beaten all the other girls and I'm hoping, this time maybe, to be right behind her. I'm not expecting to beat her, but just have her in sight."

Schatz said she needs to follow Wahlund's traditionally strong start to have a chance at the end.

Seniors Haley Anderson, Ally Hoffman and Stormie Sickler end their high school careers after being members of the team for six years.

Leiss sad it will be sad to see them go, but he just hopes they can do one thing after the meet.

"Hopefully, they can look each other in their eyes and know they did their best," Leiss said.

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Junior Vladmir Kutka leads Dickinson's boys. Kutka was 35th at state in 2009, with flu-like symptoms slowing him.

He's gunning for a top 20 finish at the very least, but said a top 10 result is doable if he can keep up a fast pace.

"I just want to just get out there with the top guys and see how long I can hang on," Kutka said.

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