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Taking a reluctant spin around the loop

CLEARBROOK, Minn. -- Chris Dyrdahl doesn't like the 400-meter run. And he doesn't believe he's alone. "I know of no person on earth who likes running the 400. Myself included," the Clearbrook-Gonvick High School senior said. "You cross the finish...

CLEARBROOK, Minn. -- Chris Dyrdahl doesn't like the 400-meter run.

And he doesn't believe he's alone.

"I know of no person on earth who likes running the 400. Myself included," the Clearbrook-Gonvick High School senior said. "You cross the finish line after that race and you can't see, feel or walk. You hurt. It's an all-out sprint around the track. It's a long way to run at full speed."

But Dyrdahl is running the 400 with a purpose. He has more enthusiasm for the around-the-track run than he did a year ago, running the event in practices, on the 1,600 relay team and occasionally in a 400 race.

There's a bigger picture than Dyrdahl's personal dislike for the race. The longer race could be his road to a return to the Minnesota state track meet in the short sprints. "I (run the 400) so I can get my 200 times down,'' Dyrdahl said.

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Dyrdahl was a state qualifier as a sophomore in the 200 after finishing second in the race at the Section 8A. But he was denied a second straight trip to state when he placed third in the 200 in last season's 8A meet.

"He came in (last season) expecting to make it back to state," Bears track coach Sarah Goudge said. "Chris had a bit of a rude awakening. He wasn't as willing to run the 400. It's a hard race. But it builds up strength and makes him a better runner in the 200.

"He's strong and a natural speed runner. And he's working harder this season."

The results have been impressive.

In Dyrdahl's first five meets, he's finished first five times in the 100. In the 200, the senior has been first four times and second once. And he's also won his only 400 race.

Dyrdahl admits that the work in the 400 has made the 200 go better this spring. He also admits that he probably could have worked harder as a junior.

"I felt I gave it my all," Dyrdahl said. "But I can probably see that I slacked off a little in practice. I had kind of a big head (after qualifying for state as a sophomore) and was in cruise control at times."

That's only made for greater incentive this season.

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"It's pushed me more this year," Dyrdahl said. "I'm striving to get better, and I think its showing. Hopefully, it will pay off at the end of the season."

Dyrdahl has the advantage of being a natural athlete. At Tuesday's Section 8A true team meet, for instance, the senior had a long jump of 19 feet, 1¾ inches to place third.

"Chris doesn't regularly participate in the long jump," Goudge said. "We thought we'd throw him in there and see how he does, and he goes farther than anyone on the team has gone this year."

That speed also showed in football. Despite playing with a nagging ankle injury, Dyrdahl rushed for 608 yards last fall, averaging 7.9 yards per carry.

"Speed is Chris' biggest asset," Bears football coach Casey Kroulik said. "He was hindered by the ankle injury, but he was still one of our main weapons. It would have been nice to have had him healthy. He would have been our big-play threat."

Dyrdahl plans to play football at Bemidji State University. But this spring, he's eyeing a run at the Clearbrook-Gonvick school records in the 100 and the 200 and a bid to return to the state track meet. So far, he's been almost unbeatable.

"That's the goal, to win," Dyrdahl said. "That's always the goal."

DeVillers reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1128; (800) 477-6572, ext. 128; or send e-mail to gdevillers@gfherald.com .

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