Kelsie Belquist finds her progression 'still hard to believe'
Kelsie Belquist, a junior out of New Rockford-Sheyenne, is the defending state champ in four Class B track and field events.
NEW ROCKFORD, N.D. — Since Whitney (Carlson) Bruins graduated from Pingree-Buchanan, hundreds of athletes have been chasing her state records.
Until last spring, no one has been able to catch the class of 2006 Pingree-Buchanan graduate.
Kelsie Belquist, a junior out of New Rockford-Sheyenne, placed first in every single individual event she competed in last year and is well on her way to doing the same this spring.
"With all of our kids we kind of traveled around during the summer and took them to track meets and did all of that stuff," Kelsie's father and coach Elliott said. "We've always done it. We've gone to the state track meets and my son was involved so she grew up watching it and has always been a part of it.
"She had some success her seventh-grade year in the hurdles and the 400," he said. "She didn't have her eighth-grade year because of COVID but we kept her running and she's found some success."
Elliott has officially been coaching Kelsie since last spring.
"I enjoy having my dad as my coach," Kelsie said. "I feel like it helps me get pushed more because he knows he can push me to be my best. He wants the best for me and he knows when I can accomplish things."
At the 2022 Class B State Track and Field Meet, Kelsie won titles in the 100 and 300-meter hurdles as well as the 200- and 400-meter dash. Her 14.95-second performance in the 100 in the Class B state finals pinned her as the second-best hurdler in the state at the end of last year.
Bariborve Deebom of Fargo Davies was the only athlete to beat her time, clocking in at 14.33 seconds in the Class A 100-meter hurdles finals.
While the 14.95-second performance nabbed Kelsie a state title in the 100 hurdles, the time was not her best.
The day before in the state prelims, she finished the 100-meter stretch in 14.77 seconds putting her 0.44 away from breaking the state record set by Carlson back in 2005. Kelsie broke Carlson's 300 record of 42.26 seconds last season, clocking a 42.02 in the state prelims.
Kelsie also notched a personal best of 24.63 seconds in the 200-meter dash which placed her first by almost half a second. In her other three events, Kelsie finished at least one second ahead of the second-place finishers.
"I started running track super young," Kelsie said. "I would run in these little league track meets in Fargo and Devils Lake.
"There was a point in my life when I really didn’t like it but as I got older and started getting better at the sport and it started to grow on me," she said. "I never thought I would be this good at running. I knew I could run but I sometimes still find it hard to believe I have come this far."
Elliott said he thinks Kelsie's drive to succeed is — in a way — genetic.
Kelsie comes from a highly sports-oriented family. Elliott played collegiate-level football at North Dakota State University, her sister, Emmie, is a three-sport athlete, her mom, Beth, played volleyball and basketball in high school and her brother, Bo, is playing football at the University of North Dakota.
"Both sides of our family are pretty sports-oriented," Elliott said. "We're all pretty competitive, it doesn't matter if it's a game in the backyard or a card game — we get after each other pretty good. Kelsie's a hard worker and she's really competitive. I think her competitiveness is what helps her every year. She's been competing with the boys and train with them and is a high-motor kid who wants to get after it."
After she wrapped up her sophomore track season, Kelsie went right back to training. Elliott is the owner of Rockin' Fitness, a high-speed treadmill fitness facility that has offered New Rockford-Sheyenne athletes — like Kelsie — the opportunity to increase speed and acceleration.
"I work on my running all the time," Kelsie said. "In the summer I run at my dad’s speed summer camp and I go to many summer track meets and lift some in the summer also."
"I have worked hard on my mentality too," she said. "I tell myself that I am strong and I can win — I just have to give it my all. I tell myself that it is OK to mess up and that I just have to go out and work hard."
While she's the defending state champ in four events, Kelsie's not exactly a track-and-field junkie.
Belquist helped the Rockets advance to the 2022 Class B State Volleyball Tournament for the first time in program history. Kelsie hit the 1,000-kill mark during the state tournament and helped her team knock off Garrison to end the year as the fifth-best team in the state.
After volleyball season concluded, Belquist laced up the basketball shoes and hit the boards for the Rockets. The Rockets finished well, placing third in the Region 4 tournament.
"We're a competitive family that loves our athletics and try to get our kids involved in different things," Elliott said. "Kelsie was an all-state volleyball player this year and an all-region basketball player. She's had success in some other sports and we just keep pushing her to get better in everything."
Her family's pushing must be one of the reasons that she's won every individual event she's competed in so far this year and why she's been talking to college coaches at what is just the beginning of her junior year.
"The program in New Rockford is amazing, I love it," Kelsie said. "The coaches and other students feel like family. I enjoy the end of the day when I get to go to practice and see everyone. We practice every day and work super hard for short amounts of time. We do 10-meter flies, 40-meter flies and also have x-factor days where we work on being explosive."
Kelsie recently competed at the NDSU Class B Indoor Meet in the 60-meter hurdles, the 400, the 4x200 meter relay and triple jump. The junior claimed first place in the hurdles, 400 and triple. The 4x200 finished second out of 15 competing teams.
Kelsie holds the top time in the state in hurdles and the 400. Her 36-foot-11-inch triple jump mark has her ranked second in the state.
"My goals are pretty simple, just get faster," Kelsie said. "I want to break another record at state in the 400-meter dash. Not only that, but I also want to beat my own record in the 300 hurdles. It will take a lot of hard work but I think I can do it. I am excited to see what the future holds for me."