Mikayla Weiss has been running varsity cross country for five seasons. Twice, she’s been a top-10 placer at the North Dakota Class A high school meet.
On Thursday, the Grand Forks Central senior had a first in her cross country career -- a first-place finish in a varsity race.
Weiss and teammate Claire Hynek placed first and second, respectively, leading the Knights to the team title at the East Grand Forks Senior High Invitational at Lincoln Park. Central finished with 34 points to runner-up Grand Forks Red River’s 52.
In the boys division, Grand Forks Red River scored 29 points to win the title, with Central second at 58. Senior High’s Tyson Mahar was individual champion.
Weiss ran a season-best time of 19:09.4 to beat Hynek and her career-best time of 19:16.2.
“I was hoping I’d be able to win one,’’ said Weiss, who placed seventh at the state meet last season and eighth as a sophomore. “It’s been a goal, that maybe someday it would happen. I’m pretty excited about it.’’
The first-place finishes have eluded Weiss because of the quality competition, both on her team and by opponents like state power Fargo Davies.
“Mikayla’s been a very quality runner for several years,’’ Central coach Sean Allan said. “But you have to look at who’s been on our own team and on teams around our conference. There’s been unbelievable competition on this side of the state. And that competition has made her a better runner.
“She’s had some ups and downs this year. But she’s coming around. She looked really good today. Her and Claire were really moving.’’
Hynek is just an eighth-grader. But Weiss said her emergence as a strong runner this season has been beneficial.
“I really enjoy working out with her,’’ Weiss said. “It’s nice to have somebody push you every day, in practice and in meets.’’
Mahar won the boys division with a time of 16:20.7, beating runner-up Hunter McHenry of Red River by seven seconds. Running against the Roughriders, ranked third in this week’s North Dakota Class A state poll, is uncharted water for Mahar.
“I’ve never run against them in a meet,’’ Mahar said. “I really don’t know the Red River kids. That was kind of motivation to run my best. I knew they were a really good team.’’
Red River’s depth showed, as the Riders had five of the top nine individual finishers in the boys division.