Toenies leads Hillsboro-Central Valley to region track title
LARIMORE, N.D.—The year before Shandon Toenies became a member of the Hillsboro-Central Valley varsity track team, the Burros scored a total of one point in the North Dakota Class B Northeast Region meet.
"I think a lot of it was that, at the time, there were a lot of good athletes in school who weren't going out for track,'' said Toenies, who was a seventh-grader in that 2012 season. "I don't know why they didn't.''
Things have changed.
On Friday, Hillsboro-CV swept the titles at the Northeast Regional. The Burros won their fourth consecutive girls region title, scoring 139 points to runner-up Langdon-Munich's 86.5. Hillsboro-CV was even more dominant in winning its second straight boys region title, scoring 191 points to second-place Langdon-Munich's 81.
Toenies, the region boys senior athlete of the year who has signed to compete in track at UND, isn't surprised by the program's turnaround.
"In my grade we really got into track,'' Toenies said. "A lot of the best athletes went out for track and stayed with it. And we saw there was talent in other classes behind ours.''
Tony Guttormson, the second-year H-CV head coach and with the program for the fifth season, said the turnaround from that 2012 season is amazing. "I don't think something like that would be very common,'' Guttormson said.
"It's a testament to the kids and the work they've put in. And they're athletic kids.''
Toenies led the way, repeating as region champion in the 100, 200 and 400. Oscar Benson was a double winner (long jump, triple jump). Cade Baesler (800) and Benjamin Dryburgh (110 hurdles) picked up wins, as did three H-CV relays.
"Shandon is our leader,'' Guttormson said. "He's talented and he works hard. He sets the tone.''
The H-CV boys program didn't have to look far to find inspiration.
"I think with the success our girls had, we thought we could do that, too,'' Toenies said.
Like Toenies, Gracie Wright was a triple winner in open events for the Burros girls, winning the 200, 400 and 800. The team also got a win in the 1,600 by Reagan Baesler as well as in the two long relays.
"Gracie's a leader, both on the track and in practices,'' H-CV girls coach Heidi Eckart said. "She always wants more. She'll finish a race and come off talking about she could have been faster. She's a competitor.''
Other girls' double open winners were Park River/Fordville-Lankin's Elaina Swartz (110 and 300 hurdles), Thompson's Izzy Shirek (high jump, triple jump) and Nelson County's Paige Haakenson (shot put, discus).
In the boys division, Thompson's Jacob Hendrickson (1,600, 3,200) and Griggs County Central's Wesley Odegaard (shot put, discus) also won a pair of open events.