Quinn Roehl didn't go to Parkhurst Recreation Area Saturday with the intention of winning the 2021 "Orriginals" cross country meet
"Just as a team we kind of talked about shaking off the rust and going out and having fun," Roehl, a junior for the Grand Forks Central cross country team, said. "Our goal for this race was just to compete -- and that's what I tried to do."
Roehl ended up winning the boys' 5000-meter contest, breaking the tape at 16:26.37 -- 11 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Caeden Johnson of West Fargo Sheyenne. Bayla Weigel of Bismarck High won the girls' 5k, pacing out a 20 minute, 5-second race. The meet, hosted by Jamestown High School, saw a mix of 27 Class A and Class B schools competing in the 5,000, 4,000 and 3,000-meter races.
The Blue Jays will be back at their home course on Friday hosting Valley City. The slated start time for the dual is 3 p.m.
Roehl was toward the front of the pack all race long, keeping pace with Johnson and Fargo North's Owen Sondag through the first mile. Johnson and Sondag gained some ground during the second mile's straightaways, but Roehl said accelerating around the corners helped him match the two stride for stride.
"The first couple of miles I was feeling pretty tired, but I just knew that I had to stay relaxed and not tighten up and let those other two guys carry me," Roehl said.
"That third mile, the hilly section -- I just needed to let the downhills carry me and work my way up on the uphills. The last mile was just giving everything I had and push hard -- I usually don't have a kick but (today) I found an extra gear at the end."
While Roehl came out on top, the Blue Jays also saw some nice finishes from senior Cullen Flieth and junior Ethan Igl, the Jays' only two runners in the 5k race. Flieth finished 14th, crossing the line at 18:06. Igl finished 20-places back of Flieth, finishing the course 30 seconds shy of an even 20-minutes.
"Once I hit that halfway mark I was starting to die because I definitely went out faster than I would have liked to," Flieth said. "But coming in that sprint I was good, I finished it out strong."
JHS head coach Ken Gardner said that after losing his top-five runners to graduation, Flieth and Igl will likely fill the Jays' top-two roster spots this season. The head coach said the duo was right on the heels of the JHS Class of 2021 crew in training last year.
It wasn't just the Blue Jays who lost runners to graduation.
"Last year at State there were only five or six underclassmen in the top-20 so definitely a lot of doors have opened," Roehl said. "The State top-20 has usually been dominated by the West so in talking with the East boys, we're like 'finally, it's our year.'"
While the top-three finishers at Parkhurst were from the Eastern Dakota Conference (EDC), the West Region still has plenty of talent to spread around.
Three runners out of Bismarck High, Brady Korsmo, Parker Hintz and Noah Cowley, finished in the fifth through seventh place spots Saturday, all crossing the line before the clock hit 17:20.
Three juniors, Flynn Krenz, Ivan Askim and Ethan Moe, all of Williston competed at the Heen/Ihmels Meet Saturday, where they turned in times under 17 minutes. Krenz was the meet winner with a time of 16:06.
The top-10 out of Williston all went under 18:30.
"It definitely changes your perspective on things," Flieth said of losing seniors to graduation. "You get a higher place and it's a faster run because you are expecting more out of yourself because you are a top runner now."
"It's a lot of fun to run with these North Dakota boys -- I love it."
The boys weren't the only ones turning heads Saturday.
Jamestown's Brooklyn Nygaard, a returning eighth-grader, was the Jays' top-finisher with a time of 21:29. Nygaard placed 17th out of the 91 competing athletes.
"I felt really strong -- all my splits were about the same and with about a mile to go I picked off almost 20 people," Nygaard said. "I really pushed it at the end and I just felt like I laid it all out there."
Nygaard, an All-WDA conference runner last season, turned some heads her inaugural seventh-grade year, including North Dakota's 3-time State Cross Country Meet Champ and teammate, Meghan Ford. Gardner said that Nygaard, along with teammates Maddy Orr, Jera Truax, Layna Hoffer and Madison Rick will likely fill out the Jays' top-five headed into the next few meets of the season.
"I think that I will probably be the No. 1 finisher and hopefully at the bigger meets like WDA and State I will score some points," Nygaard said. "Our team is a lot different this year without Meghan but I think it will be OK."
1. Grand Forks Central 68; 2. Bismarck 74; 3. Fargo North 77; 4. West Fargo Sheyenne 97; 5. West Fargo 123; 6. Devils Lake 140; 7. Mandan 152; 8. Rugby 194; 9. South Prairie-Max 225; 10. May-Port CG 238.
1. Bismarck 54; 2. Fargo Davies 60; 3. West Fargo 90; 4. Grand Forks Central 103; 5. Rugby 103; 6. Fargo North 120; 7. West Fargo Sheyenne 156; 8. May-Port CG 215.
Top-10 individual finishers
1. Quinn Roehl, GFC, 16:26.37; 2. Caeden Johnson, WFS, 16:37.52; 3. Ian Busche, BEU, 16:39.3; 4. Owen Sondag, FN, 16:43.5; 5. Brady Korsmo, BHS, 16:53.01; 6. Parker Hintz, BHS, 17:16.08; 7. Noah Cowley, BHS, 17:19.18; 8. Brady Goss, Devils Lake, 17:22.67; 9. Zach Martin, GFC, 17:31.60; 10. Jaxsyn Olson, BHS, 17:32.97.
1. Bayla Weigel, BHS, 20:05.44; 2. Hannah Westin, SC, 20:17.59; 3. Ellie Miller, FD, 20:18.85; 4. Taya Fettig, BHS, 20:28.21; 5. Amelia Shepard, RUG, 20:29.82; 6. Brooklyn Bartsch, RUG, 20:34; 7. Acey Elkins, MAN, 20:37.81; 8. Kinley Steckler, FD, 20:43.73; 9. Kaelyn Berg, WF, 20:50.05; 10. Sophia Ness, BHS, 21:00.04.
Blue Jay results
Boys: 14. Cullen Flieth 18:06; 34. Ethan Igl 19:30; Girls: 17. Brooklyn Nygaard 21:29; 43. Madison Rick 22:48; 48. Jera Truax 22:59; 63. Maddy Orr 24:07.
Boys: 3. Jack Shauer 14:44; 5. Caleb Fabian 15:22; 6. Sam Anteau 15:23; 7. Austin Andersen 15:32; 19. Raine Job 16:17; 22. Gradin Thorlakson 16:32; 26. Ryley Smith 17:02; 30. Noah Lynch 17:08; Girls: 6. Layna Hoffer 17:26; 38. Kyra Hoffer 19:21; 41. Jetta Peterson 19:23; 56. Jayla Hoffer 20:08.