North Dakota has given Jamestown High School's Meghan Ford plenty of competition on the track over the last four years, but Friday night will push the sophomore even more.
Ford will be competing in the 800-meter Girls Special Event at this year's Howard Wood Dakota Relays in Sioux Falls, S.D. The race will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
"I'm pretty excited for the competition because I haven't had a lot of close races, besides the race with (Bismarck Century's) Erin Palmer last weekend," Ford said, who currently has a personal-best time of 2 minutes, 14.58 seconds. "I'm excited to stick my head in there.
"I'm expecting some tough competition. I know everyone wants to win the event and it'll be close together. I'm expecting some close finishes."
The eight-person field is decided by the top eight runners' time in the 800, with the time cutoff being April 30. With Sioux Falls being along the South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa border, Ford will see plenty of the top runners throughout the Midwest.
Amber Aesoph, a junior from Bishop Heelan Catholoc High School in Sioux City, Iowa, currently has a personal-best 2:12.14, but sits seventh in the state and three seconds off first (2:09.88). Aesoph is the lone competitor from Iowa slated to run.
Alexa Havon, a senior from Andover High School (Minn.), who will run collegiately at DePaul University in Chicago, has a personal-best 2:13.87 at the 2018 Minnesota State High School League State Track & Field Championship and placed third in the event.
"It really is a big deal. It's a learning experience and seeing other top athletes," said Blue Jay girls Mike Dietz. "One of the top runners is going to DePaul and that's the kind of competition you want her to see."
After Aesoph and Havon, Ford has the third-best time heading into the event. Ford's heading into the 800 with some momentum as she broke the school record in the event (2:14.58) back on April 18.
Ford's most familiar competitors will be Century's Palmer and Emily Goldade, who have times of 2:15.64 and 2:15.69, respectively. Also competing will be O'Gorman's Alea Hardie (2:15.32), St. Thomas' Kaci Cooper (2:15.86) and Deubrook's Shaylee DeBeer (time not available), all of which are from South Dakota.
"She still has a pretty good time, but other girls have run a good 800," Dietz said. "When she runs, she hasn't had great competition in North Dakota, besides with Erin Palmer, but she hasn't been pushed yet."
Ford said that the first 100 meters will be fast and runners will battle for position, while the last 200 will be a sprint to the end.
"I'm trying not to psych myself out, but I want good position by not taking the lead too early," she said. "I'm going for the win and if it's a PR that's fine, too. The last race I ran, I PRed and hopefully I'll be pushed again."
Ford will also compete in the 1,600 on Saturday, which takes the top 40 mile runners from the area. Overall, teams from Iowa, Kansas, Manitoba (Canada), Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota will be there.
Jays in action this weekend
Jamestown girls tennis, boys golf, track and field, baseball, softball and girls soccer are all in action this weekend.
Blue Jay girls tennis (1-7) take on Williston (2-5) today at 4 p.m., at Bolinger Tennis Courts. Jamestown's only victory has come against Bismarck Century in 5-4 fashion.
The soccer team (1-4-1) hosts two straight contests Friday and Saturday against Bismarck St. Mary's (2-3-1) and Bismarck Century (1-3-1), respectively, at Rotary Field.
Jamestown boys golf has back-to-back golf meets in Bismarck Friday and Saturday at Hawktree Golf Course and Riverwood Golf Course, respectively.
The Blue Jays' baseball team (4-4) also has two straight doubleheaders against Williston (9-3) and Bismarck Century (11-3) on Friday and Saturday starting at 4:30 p.m. and noon, respectively. Jamestown will try and rebound after losing four of its last six contests.
The softball team (7-5) plays a doubleheader with Fargo Davies (2-3) on Friday before heading to Alexandria High School (Minn.) Saturday for a four-team tournament.
The rest of Jamestown's track and field squad heads to Carrington High School on Saturday.