The Killdeer girls went to the state meet in Grand Forks last week hoping to come home with a trophy.
By Jarann Johnson
For the DC Herald
The only teams that leave the state meet with trophies are teams who finish in the top five.
Killdeer accomplished their goal by earning fifth place overall out of 45 teams at the 4k race held at Lincoln Drive Park in Grand Forks.
Going into the girls’ state meet everyone knew that Hillsboro-Central Valley was the favorite to win it all. But the question most race fans were wondering was, Which team will take second place at the state meet?
Most figured it would be a West Region team but wondered how the order would shake out. At the West Region meet the teams finished with Bowman in first, Watford City in second, Killdeer in third and Southern McLean in fourth.
The top four at regionals were only separated by 24 points. At state Hillsboro- Central Valley dominated as expected but the close finish at the regional meet didn’t repeat itself.
Hillsboro-Central Valley won the race. They were led by a 3rd-6th finish at their No. 1 and 2 scoring spots and finished with three all-state runners.
The only team close to Hillsboro-Central Valley at that time was Watford City. Watford City pushed across three runners (3rd, 7th, 8th) but didn’t have a strong No. 4 and No. 5 finish.
Watford City’s No. 4 runner came in at 52nd overall and the No. 5 runner came in at 99th overall. Watford City’s No. 5 runner hurt their bid for second and gave Bowman just enough to earn a second place finish.
Bowman finished with two all-state runners (18th and 19th) at the meet but their No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 did enough to make up for not having a single top 10 runner. Bowman’s No. 5 runner came in at 57th and that was enough to top Watford City’s No. 5 who came in at 99th overall.
Southern McLean earned 4th with two top ten runners. Kate Fox took first in 16 minutes and 46.29 seconds on the four kilometer course and Southern McLean’s No. 2 runner took 10th overall.
Southern McLean could have climbed to second in the race but their No. 5 runner finished the race in 96th place, which hurt their team score.
Killdeer didn’t have a chance at the teams battling for second place because they didn’t finish with any runners in the top 20. Killdeer finished with two runners in the top 30.
Amber Kukla was 33rd with a time of 16:49.29 and Shawnee Unruh was 35th with a time of 16:48.32. Even though neither runners time was all-state it was still better than about 85 percent of the total field.
Killdeer Head Coach Nathan Horgeshimer said Kukla’s run was outstanding and that the team’s depth was key to a trophy finish.
Amber was our leader it was kind of neat to have a senior be our top runner in our last race. But like you said, we didn’t have anybody come across until 33rd. But our depth was really what got us on the podium. We have a lot of really good girls. We had a good day, Horgeshimer said.
Killdeer’s first two runners gave them a team score of 68, while all the other top five teams had 9, 11, 12 and 37 team points. The point differential meant Killdeer would have to make up 57 points in the final three scoring spots to take second place.
The gap was too much to make up despite a strong performance to close out the race. Trae Murray was 48th overall (17:05.69) and Dani Benz was 56th (17:16.88). Sydney Anderson closed out scoring for Killdeer with a 64th overall finish (17:31.95).
Horgeshimer was proud of the way season Andersen and Murray battled through injuries and sickness the year to perform at a high level.
Sydney ran a nice race. She’s battled some injuries and some health injuries all fall. She’s just kept working and working. It was nice to have her in our top five. She gutted out a tough race and gave it everything she had,î Horgeshimer said.
Trae was our third runner. It was really nice to have her back after she missed the state meet with a pretty nasty injury last year. For her to come back within a year if that and be in the top 50 at state was really a highlight for the day.
Jaylynn Hicks and Hannah Benz didn’t record scoring spots for Killdeer but they both managed top 100 finishes at state. Hicks was 77th (17:45.21) and Hannah Benz was 97th (18:10.20).
Killdeer finished with 236 points. Expect a very competitive girls race next year as well. There were only nine seniors in the top 50 and only three of those seniors were in the top 20.
Overall Horgeshimer felt like the girls did great battling injuries and sickness all season and praised his squad’s effort.
It was nice to get back on the podium. That’s four years in a row that the girls have made it and I think that was kind of a highlight there. I had a few girls that were hoping to sneak into the top 20 but it didn’t quite work out, Horgeshimer said.
The boys took 32nd out of 45 teams at the meet. Dakota Bowen led the way and was close to breaking into the top 100. Bowen took 106th (19:58.09).
Horgeshimer said he was impressed with Bowen’s race.
Dakota had a nice race, he really did. He kind of liked we talked about started off further back and then worked his way up in the pack and really did some nice things. Broke 20 minutes that was the first time we had a boy break 20 minutes in about two years. So that was good, Horgeshimer said.
The boys had two other runners compete at the meet.
Garrett Calkins took 154th (20:52.99) and Orion Bowen followed taking 178th (21:24.71). Horgeshimer said the improvement the boys’ team made this season was great and that he is excited for the young group to keep improving.
The other two had solid races too. The other guys are all freshmen, actually both ran a lot faster at the state meet than they did last year as eighth-graders. SO that was good to see. The boys have made some nice progress through out the year, Horgeshimer said.
Girls 5th out of 45
No. 1 runner Amber Kukla 33rd (16:46.29)
No. 2 runner Shawnee Hansen 35th (16:48.32)
No. 3 runner Trae Murray 48th (17:05.69)
No. 4 runner Danielle Benz 56th (17:16.88)
No. 5 runner Sydney Andersen 64th (17:31.95)
Other Runners; Jaylynn Hicks 77th (17:45.21), Hannah Benz (18:10.20), Bailey Smith (18:35.76), Corrie Dobitz (19:30.27)
Boys 32nd out of 45
No. 1 runner Dakota Bowen 106th (19:58.09)
No. 2 runner Garrett Calkins 154th (20:52.99)
No. 3 runner Orion Bowen 178th (21:24.71)