By Greg DeVillers on Oct 31, 2014 at 9:19 p.m.
The 2014 North Dakota cross country season concluded last Saturday. Already, Grand Forks Central’s girls team is looking ahead to 2015.
The Knights matched the school’s best showing at the state meet, finishing second with 80 points behind champion Bismarck Century (65). The state meet will be in Grand Forks next season and, Central coach Sean Allan said, Central’s runners are looking at a run for the title.
“That will be our goal,” Allan said. “We’ll return nine of our top 10 runners. The girls are already talking about next year.
“That (a state title) was our goal this year. We made a great run at it. The girls weren’t disappointed getting second. But it’s a hard-working group. They’re already training for next year.”
There is reason for that optimism. Karly Ackley became the first Central girl to win a state cross country title, and she’s only a sophomore. None of Central’s top five finishers at state — Ackley, Alexis Roehl (seventh), Mandy Williamson (12th), Grace Roehl (27th) and Rachel Torrey (33rd) — graduate next spring. The lone senior in the top 10 is Rachel Cox.
Century, on the other hand, graduates two of its top five state placers, Jordan Jacob (sixth) and Jaiden Schuette (17th). Bismarck High, which finished third with 90 points, is like Central in that the Demons had only one senior in their top 10, with none of their top seven graduating next spring.
“The main thing for us will be staying healthy,” Allan said. “And we have to get stronger and keep improving.
“Our goal will be to get five in the top 20. Bismarck High will push us. But I think most of the girls improved their times by around 30 seconds from last year. If we can get 15 seconds faster, that will help us greatly.”
Will that kind of improvement be enough to win a state team title? “I guess we’ll find out next year,” Allan said.