Bryce Kuznia never competed in track until this spring. The East Grand Forks Senior High athlete has one regret. "I should have been out before this,'' Kuznia said. "I think I could have been a lot better if I had come out sooner. But I'm pretty happy with how it's gone.'' Kuznia and fellow senior Felix Zuniga are newcomers to the Green Wave team, Zuniga having transferred from Thief River Falls before his junior year and opting not to go out for track last season.
After four seasons as a starting infielder, Paige Haakenson had to give up softball this spring because of a shoulder injury. While throwing a softball was difficult for the Dakota Prairie High School junior, that hasn't stopped Haakenson from being one of the best throwers in North Dakota Class B track. Haakenson enters the North Dakota state track meet, to be held Friday and Saturday in Bismarck, with the longest Class B throw in the shot put and the second-longest throw in the discus.
PARK RIVER, N.D.—For the second consecutive season, Park River/Fordville-Lankin entered the final day of the Region 4 high school baseball tournament needing two wins to avoid elimination and advance to the state tournament. For the second consecutive season, Langdon-Edmore-Munich was in the driver's seat, unbeaten in the regional and needing one win to qualify for state. "We'd been there before,'' Park River/F-L junior Nick Thompson said. "We knew what it would take.''
HILLSBORO, N.D.—Grant Skager was an explosive running back as the offensive centerpiece of the Hillsboro-Central Valley Class A state championship football team last fall. The senior has proven to be just as explosive on the track. Skager has the state's second-fastest times in both the 200 and 400. He's also the No. 5 seed in the 100 entering the North Dakota Class B state high school boys track meet, to be held Friday and Saturday in Bismarck.
Thirty-seven feet—it doesn't sound like a lot. Unless you throw the discus like Shelby Frank. That's almost the distance between the best the Grand Forks Red River High School sophomore has thrown and the best any other Class A opponent has thrown this spring.
MAYVILLE, N.D.—Pitching with a state tournament berth on the line, Thompson sophomore Clay Odenbach felt some butterflies in his stomach Tuesday. "I was a little nervous at the start,'' the left-hander said. "Once we got the first couple of runs, though, it got a little easier. The nerves went down.'' If the nerves went down after Thompson scored four runs in the second inning, Odenbach must have been totally relaxed after the Tommies added 11 more runs in the third.
Thomas Lundmark knows he is capable of bigger throws. He sees them at almost every track meet. The problem for the Grand Forks Central High School senior is that, too often, his best efforts in the shot put are before the competition begins. "I know there's more I can do,'' Lundmark said. "I know I've hit farther than 53 feet. But it usually happens in warmups. It hasn't transferred over to the competition. I haven't saved the big throws for the competition.''
LARIMORE, N.D.—Chase Peebles isn't just close any more. The Langdon-Edmore-Munich senior picked up his first open title in the Northeast Region track meet here Saturday, winning the triple jump. Peebles also was runner-up in the 100 and 400 and, until Saturday, the region has been a string of those near misses. "I've improved every year,'' said Peebles, who was named the region's boys senior athlete of the year. "But there always seemed to be another guy who got faster or jumped farther than me. But my jumping got a lot better this year.''
Former Thompson High School state track champion Aaron Dewald now lives in Utah. But he still follows the program through social media. The success of the Tommies' 4x800 relay team caught Dewald's attention. "When Aaron saw our times, he asked if we had somebody who runs a really fast split or if we have four kids who run solid times,'' Thompson track coach Jeremy Anderson said. "And that's what we have, four kids who are running around 2:05 and 2:06.''
After hitting four home runs last season, Kenzie Whalen didn't have a single one through East Grand Forks Senior High's first 10 softball games this season. "I wasn't getting frustrated,'' the Green Wave senior said. "I was hitting the ball hard. I just had to be patient.'' The patience paid off. Whalen hit her fifth home run in as many games Tuesday, a record-setter as Senior High romped to a 20-3 win against East Grand Forks Sacred Heart.