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Grand Forks Central's Quinn Roehl continues family tradition of balancing two sports in one season

Roehl won his first cross country race of the season -- in a week in which he also played two soccer matches.

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Grand Forks Central's Quinn Roehl sprints to the finish line of the EDC Cross Country championship boys 5K race Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Park. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

The route to soccer practice is different than the other players on the Grand Forks Central soccer team for junior Quinn Roehl.

Roehl runs to soccer practice. And because it's not quite long enough of a route at 4 miles, he adds a few extra loops to his path to pad 2 more miles.

Such is the life of an athlete competing in two sports in one season.

Last week, Roehl played in two soccer matches as a starting defender for the Knights, then won a cross country race in Jamestown on Saturday.

"I just love the sport of soccer," Roehl said. "I always go back and forth to what is my favorite. I'm good enough and love cross country enough that I'm not willing to quit that. But I like soccer enough that I'm not willing to quit that quite yet."

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Roehl, who was 11th at the state cross country meet last season, entered this year as the No. 5-ranked runner in North Dakota Class A, per the preseason coaches' poll.

During the race in Jamestown, Roehl knocked off West Fargo Sheyenne's Caeden Johnson, who was the No. 3 runner in the preseason poll. Roehl beat Johnson by 11 seconds. In the second coaches poll, released Wednesday, Roehl has moved up to a No. 3 ranking.

The Jamestown race was a mix of 27 Class A and Class B schools.

Central cross country coach Sean Allan has handled this type of fall dual-sport athlete before -- with Quinn's older brother Camron, who was a senior in the 2013-14 school year.

In fact, Quinn's sisters Grace and Sophia were dual-sport athletes in one season, as well. With girls soccer taking place in the spring, they juggled with track and field.

"We just have to be aware of how much he's doing and keeping track of the quantity of work," Allan said. "Quinn is good at sharing how his body is feeling and whether he's worn out or not. It's a little more responsibility on his part to communicate."

Allan said Roehl is primed for a strong season.

"He's put in a lot of mileage and work," Allan said. "He's growing in his confidence and abilities, too. You combine those things and usually good things happen.

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"He's one of our captains and extremely passionate about running and that just carries off to teammates and helps make them better. That, to me, is the best sign of a leader ... when you elevate them at the same time."

Quinn said his older brother Camron has been supportive of his multi-sport training. Camron placed fourth at the state cross country meet as a senior in 2013 while playing soccer. Camron went on to compete at North Dakota State.

"He's comforted me sometimes and reminded me not to overwork and said it's okay to miss a mile or if you have to pull back a little because you're running extra in soccer, too," Quinn said. "He's been a huge part in encouraging me along the way and making sure I stay healthy and smart about my training."

Quinn and Camron have a sibling rivalry. They've started to compare times from their age levels. Camron's personal-best in high school was 16 minutes, 14 seconds. Quinn's is 16:20.

"So we always joke Camron's goal is to stay faster than me as long as he can," Quinn said. "We've compared by grade, and I think I've been anywhere from 20 seconds to a minute faster than his PRs."

Quinn said he was pleased with the opening race in Jamestown, considering he was only 6 seconds off his PR.

"I don't think I've ever been that close to a PR on my first race," Quinn said.

GGF cross country teams at a glance

GF Central boys

Coach: Sean Allan.

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2020 finish: Ninth at state.

Key returners: Jr. Quinn Roehl (11th at state); sr. Zach Martin (45th at state); jr. Cayden Reed (84th at state).

Top newcomers: Soph. Curtis Sande; fr. Aidan Fiala; sr. Avery Harsell; soph. Preston Diederich.

Coach Allan says: "They put in a lot of mileage and work over the summer. I think we'll see it pay off. Some of them, this is first time running varsity so there's a learning curve but I'm really excited about them."

GF Red River boys

Coach: Richard Dafoe.

2020 finish: Third at state.

Key returners: Sr. Hunter McHenry (eighth at state); jr. Matthew Rongitsch (21st at state); sr. Dameon Zenawick (22nd at state); jr. Jonah Dafoe (28th at state); soph. Carter Rydland (63rd at state); sr. Tanner Schiller.

Top newcomers: Fr. Elijah Dafoe; fr. Joseph Quinn; soph. David Radke; jr. Jake Jenkins; jr. Matthew Evans; soph. Micah Larsen-Schmidt.

Coach Dafoe says: "It's the deepest group I've ever had. Our top four returning is probably the deepest four in the state right now. We have a little drop there to our fifth spot but we have about five or six guys fighting for that. That intrasquad competition for top spots, they'll push each other all season, and it'll be super fun to watch."

GF Central girls

Coach: Sean Allan.

2020 finish: Eighth at state.

Key returners: Soph. Claire Hynek (14th at state); jr. Marie Derenne (35th at state); jr. Sierra Heyd (69th at state); soph. Aria Kindseth (77th at state); sr. Hannah Hynek (113th at state); jr. Annika Presteng.

Top newcomers: Fr. Katie Uhlir; soph. Katelyn Stern.

Coach Allan says: "This is a group of girls who'll def run better at the end of the year. They run well together. They just have to find the determination during races to move up and that's what we're working on right now. I'm really excited about this group because they're really easy to coach and fun to be around."

GF Red River girls

Coach: Richard Dafoe.

2020 finish: 12th at state.

Key returners: Sr. Campbell Dorsey (41st at state); soph. Morgan Hartze (49th at state); eighth-grader Ava Parks (68th at state); Fr. Brenna Schock (75th at state); fr. Brooke Dorsey (104th at state); jr. Lauren Dosch.

Top newcomers: Soph. Jocie Schiller; fr. Mya Mannausau; seventh-grader Josie Hoefs.

Coach Dafoe says: "It's a good mix of experience and talented new young runners. Having Campbell and Lauren ... they're both very strong runners as upperclassmen leading the way for those very young new runners who are fast and talented but still learning the sport. (As they progress), they're going to eventually be one of the best girls teams seen in a long time."

East Grand Forks boys

Coach: Kirk Misialek.

2020 finish: Second at section, no state meet.

Key returners: Sr. Johnathan Krueger (fourth at section meet); sr. Dawson McDonald (15th at section meet); soph. Jace Fore (20th at secion meet); soph. Hunter Jordheim (54th at section meet).

Top newcomers: Fr. Jaxon Mahar; fr. Weston Mahar; fr. Brady Lore; soph. Jonah Vandervort.

Coach Misialek says: "We've have some experience returning but some big shoes to fill, too. It's going to be a different year with Minnesota going to three classes for both track and cross country. We'll be running AA. We're right in the middle but with some bigger schools like Fergus Falls, Detroit Lakes and Thief River Falls. I don't think it'll affect us too much during the regular season because we'll still go to the meets we normally do."

East Grand Forks girls

Coach: Kirk Misialek.

2020 finish: Fifth at section meet.

Key returners: Jr. Lydia Floden (third place at section meet); sr. Mikila Gudajtes (60th at section meet); fr. Katie Allard (56th at section meet).

Top newcomers: Jr. Jessa Robles; fr. Adrianna Gregoire.

Coach Misialek says: "I'm excited to see what some of the girls can do after working out over the summer. Lydia has had some success and holds our school record in the 5K, which she set as a freshman (previous record holder was former UND standout Erica Eades). We're hoping to be able to avoid injuries, so we can get a team score with our five runners."

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Knights defender Quinn Roehl looks for an open teammate to pass the ball to in the first half of a home soccer match against West Fargo Sheyenne on Tuesday, August 24, 2021. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Related Topics: PREP SPORTSGF CENTRAL
Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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