Posted 8/24/11 (Wed)
By Olivia Sundeen
Farmer Staff Writer
On your marks, get set, go... grab your running shoes, that is. It is that time of year again as the Watford City Wolves start cross country.
“We started training two weeks ago,” stated Greg Brown, head cross country coach. “I feel that both teams are looking extremely strong at this point in time. They have been working very hard in practice to get better, but until we run a competition I can not truly tell if we are running with the best, or hanging out.”
This year Brown has seven boys and six girls to work with.
“It is a work in progress,” stated Brown. “I like the kids to be able to get to school and then I will have to start the recruiting process again. I would love to build our team. I think we have many great runners on our squad already. However, I feel we also have many great runners walking the hallways that could make us better. The challenge is getting them to come out.”
In spite of the low numbers, Brown believes his team has lots of potential.
“We have a very good core on the team that works hard and is driven to get better,” stated Brown. “On the girls’ side, I feel we have four to five runners that have All State potential, yet hard work is needed to get the speed we need for State.”
There is a similar consensus on the boys’ side.
“We had one All State runner last year,” stated Brown. “And so far this year I have had three to four other runners that are able to stay in the group with him in practice. Based on that it looks really good for the Wolves this year.”
With that in mind, it all comes down to who is willing to rise to the occasion as meets begin to role around.
“It is hard to say since it is so early in the season, but currently I look toward Kade Ross and Bessie Schmitz to be my senior leaders for the girls,” stated Brown. “On the boys’ side, Hayes Feilmeier and John Meuchel are my experienced runners. However, Addison Sundeen, Dustin Kleppen and Logan Gumke are ones I expect to step forward at some point this season and become leaders for our team.”
The word leader doesn’t necessarily mean they are the all-star of the team.
“I look for runners that have heart and want to make themselves better,” stated Brown, “as well as their teammates in practice and at meets.”
Brown, in the last couple of years, has lost many experienced runners. So this year there is a different dynamic to the team.
“We do have a great looking youth movement to the team,” stated Brown. “We have two seventh grade boys out for cross country that will run a lot of Junior High races this year. They are looking strong and it will be fun to work with them for years to come. On the girls’ side, we do have two eighth grade girls and one freshman. They are extremely good runners and I expect to see them start moving up in the pack as the year moves along.”
The youth movement compliments the more experienced runners and the seniors that have been at this for a while.
“We have a nice mix this year with having some experienced runners on the team,” stated Brown. “We have four seniors this year who have been dedicated to the program for many years and I hope to see their leadership shine through.”
One thing that really impacts the Wolves this year is the traffic as it takes away from their training.
“Training is extremely tough,” stated Brown. “As a cross country coach you hope to be able to get many miles in during the season, however, the roads are extremely busy. All the traffic has been good and willing to slow down for us so far, but I do worry about the amount of cars and athletes on the road at the same time.”
In order to solve this predicament some creativity has been put into effect.
“We have been changing the training a bit and are finding new places to run,” stated Brown. “The golf course is being very gracious and allowing us to run on it in the early morning. We have resorted to the Good Shepherd Home’s empty lot as a training place.”
Brown states that if they do go on the roads, they are always country ones in the wee hours of the morning.
“This year has become an interesting year to find spots to safely run, where I as a coach can breathe easy that the athletes are safe,” stated Brown. “And as many people realize, as a coach, you do need to be creative about your training and where you train, and I feel at this time we are meeting that goal.”
Hopefully, the adjusted training is paying off as the Wolves have some big competition to contend with this year.
“For the girls, the big competition is going to come from Killdeer in our region and Rugby in the state,” stated Brown. “Both towns have very solid programs that should do well. The boys will need to work hard to defeat New Town and Beulah/Hazen in our region.”
Even though the competition is fierce, there is no doubt the Wolves have a chance for an upset.
“I feel both of our squads with some hard work could be the party- crashers,” stated Brown. “We have great athletes who want to get better. With some hard work we could improve through the season and look at placing high in the region and top five at State.”
The Wolves will put their legs and training to the test during their first real meet of the season this Saturday, Aug. 27 in Dickinson.
“Of course I am nervous,” stated Brown. “The nervous part is that the athletes look great in practice, because they are running against each other. When the first meet comes around you get to judge how well they can do and how competitive they are compared to other teams.”
It will be an interesting year for the Watford City cross country, but an exciting one nonetheless.
“This is a well balanced team and I am interested in seeing how they do against competition. It gives me a chance to evaluate our program and decide what we need more of as we move forward.”
Friends and family, come cheer on these runners to a great season.
As for the runners, may the course be with you. Good Luck, Wolves!