Ashley High School senior Faith Dockter was dealt a double whammy when COVID-19 erased her final prep track and field season this spring.
Dockter was on pace to score 1,000 career points for South Border girls basketball when a knee injury abruptly ended her high school hoops career last December in just the second game of the 2019-20 season. With a bruised meniscus and multiple ligament sprains to her right knee, Dockter figured she’d shift her attention to May where a shot at repeating as Class B girls state javelin champion was supposed to be waiting.
The defending champ has had a few weeks to process the May 1 spring sports cancellation by the North Dakota High School Activities Association in response to the novel coronavirus, but the process of replacing physical pain with emotional pain hasn’t been easy.
The North Dakota high school state track and field meet was scheduled to take place this weekend at the MDU Resources Community Bowl in Bismarck.
“Never think you have next year,” said Dockter, who was also an all-district volleyball player for the South Border co-op of Ashley/Wishek. “Two out of three of my senior sports ended up getting canceled, so just always make the most of every season.”
Like basketball season, there were goals.
Dockter was hoping to chase down the Class B girls javelin record of 144 feet, 2 inches set by Harvey/Wells County’s Kari Wolfe at the state meet in 2017. Dockter won last year’s title with a distance of 138-9, and her closest returning state competitor was Lisbon junior Kendra Odegard who placed fifth at 126-7 as a sophomore.
Dockter will be continuing her throwing career next spring at the University of Mary in Bismarck where she’s planning to major in nursing.
“The hardest part for me was never knowing if I could’ve accomplished that championship title again and maybe beaten the meet record,” Dockter said. “But I know it’s not my last time throwing ever, so that’s helped soften the blow a little bit.”
Oakes High School track and field coach Roxane Miller will arguably never forget the day she tried to help soften the shocking blow to her athletes. After more than a month of providing her kids virtual workouts while activities were in a state of suspension, something to smile about was needed following the finality of no 2020 competition.
“I was sending them 'Saturday Night Live' videos, just to make them laugh and take their mind off, ‘Yeah, we’re not gonna have a track season,'" Miller said. “The kids had put a lot of time in and they were ready to compete again and just see what we could do, and then the whole COVID thing kinda threw a wrench into it.”
Oakes junior Lanie Awender was Class B’s returning state champion in both the girls 100 and 200 meters. Awender hopefully has next spring to look forward to, but seniors Brackin Awender and Logan Sell -- who helped Oakes win the boys 1,600-meter relay in 2019 -- do not.
Awender and Sell teamed up with David Schmitz and Garret Meehl to edge Hillsboro/Central Valley’s Oscar Benson, Ezra Longthorne, Chase Fossum and Isaac Luithle -- all seniors this spring -- by six-hundredths of second and win the mile relay.
Miller had 80 kids out for track and field this spring, including 12 seniors. Oakes placed fifth of 47 teams in the state girls standings last May, while the boys placed 14th of 40.
“We have a ton of junior high kids and I truly believe it’s due to the leadership of our 12 seniors,” Miller said. “They kinda saw the commitment and just the go-getter attitudes to look up to. Our seniors are gonna be tough to replace.”
Sell placed sixth in the boys open 400 meters (51.57) last season, senior Claire Wagner tied for fifth in the girls pole vault (8-6) and seniors Jaida Seyer, Nicole Schmitz and Allison Jepson teamed up with Awender to place fifth in the girls 800 relay (1:49.10) and eighth in the girls 400 relay (51.71).
Junior Sadie Hansen was returning as the possible frontrunner to win the Class B girls shot put. Hansen placed second (38-10) last spring to Nelson County's Paige Haakenson who graduated in 2019.
“A lot of these kids have been in track since junior high,” Miller said. “There were a lot of state place-winners returning and we were ready to have a great year.”
Kidder County’s Kennedy Harter was also looking forward to a potentially great year.
The freshman from rural Driscoll logged the best female distance measured in the triple jump at last year’s state meet, Class B or Class A. Harter won the Class B title with a leap of 37-6, which would’ve beaten Class A champion Kaitlyn Emmil of Bismarck Legacy by more than a foot (12 1/2 inches).
Harter was hoping to take a shot at the Class B state meet record of 38-9 3/4 set in 2007 by Bishop Ryan’s Sarah Fegley. The overall girls triple jump record was set in 1998 by Fargo South’s Crystal Cummins at 39-4 1/4.
The Kidder County underclassman also tied for fourth in the high jump (4-11) and placed sixth in the long jump (16-8).
“It was very heartbreaking at first,” Harter said. “Then it motivated me, and I worked out a lot more and I’ve kept doing that.”
Harter should have plenty more opportunities to chase down her goals. She said her heart goes out to all the seniors, like South Border’s Faith Dockter.
“I would hate to have my senior season being taken away,” Harter said. “I don’t know? I’m speechless for them.”
High School Track & Field
Returning Area State Placewinners
Class A Boys
1,600: 6. Gavin Haut, Jamestown, Jr., 4:31.33.
3,200: 6. Haut, 9:43.40.
Class A Girls
800: 4. Meghan Ford, Jamestown, Jr., 2:15.99.
1,600: 1. Ford, 4:55.24.
3,200: 1. Ford, 10:52.36.
300 hurdles: 8. Kameron Selvig, Jamestown, Sr., 48.26.
Shot put: 7. Anthonett Nabwe, Soph., 39-2.
Class B Boys
400: 6. Logan Sell, Oakes, Sr., 51.57.
110 hurdles: 7. Bryson Tripp, Medina/Pingree-Buchanan, Sr., 16.78.
1,600 relay: 1. Oakes (David Schmitz, Soph.; Brackin Awender, Sr.; Garret Meehl, Jr.; Sell), 3:28.56.
Long jump: 1. Bo Belquist, New Rockford-Sheyenne, Sr., 21-8 3/4.
Triple Jump: 1. Belquist, 45-6 1/2.
Class B Girls
100: 1. Lanie Awender, Oakes, Jr., 12.55.
200: 1. Awender, 25.85; 7. Gracie Bohl, Medina/Pingree-Buchanan, Sr., 26.86.
400: 6. Kelsie Belquist, New Rockford-Sheyenne, eighth grade, 1:00.34.
800: 5. Norah Entzi, Edgeley/Kulm, Fr., 2:24.85.
300 hurdles: 7. Belquist, 47.78; 8. Allison Jarrett, Carrington, Fr., 47.81
400 relay: 8. Oakes (Jaida Seyer, Sr.; Nicole Schmitz, Sr.; Allison Jepson, Sr.; Awender), 51.71.
800 relay: 5. Oakes (Seyer; Schmitz; Jepson; Awender), 1:49.10.
1,600 relay: 4. Carrington (Haley Wolsky, Fr.; Addison Hoornaert, Sr.; Amanda Jarrett, graduated; Allison Jarrett), 4:13.39.
3,200 relay: 4. Carrington (Allison Jarrett; Hoornaert; Marah Schmitz, Sr.; Amanda Jarrett), 10:16.01.
High jump: 2T. Maren Berntson, Edgeley/Kulm, Sr., 5-1; 4T. Kennedy Harter, Kidder County, Fr., 4-11.
Long jump: 6. Harter, 16-8.
Triple Jump: 1. Harter, 37-6.
Pole vault: 5T. Claire Wagner, Oakes, Sr., 8-6.
Shot put: 2. Sadie Hansen, Oakes, Jr., 38-10.
Javelin: 1. Faith Dockter, South Border, Sr., 138-9.