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AREA PREP NOTEBOOK: Hillsboro-CV running for a cross country six-peat

Kirk Zink admits he didn't see this success coming. Hillsboro-Central Valley is five-time defending Class B girls champion entering Saturday's North Dakota high school cross country meet in Jamestown. The program started in 2009 with one runner. ...

Kirk Zink admits he didn't see this success coming.

Hillsboro-Central Valley is five-time defending Class B girls champion entering Saturday's North Dakota high school cross country meet in Jamestown. The program started in 2009 with one runner. There were two in 2010. In 2011, the Burros were state champions.

"When we got it going, I can't say I saw this happening,'' Zink, the H-CV coach, said. "In our third year, we recruited enough girls to fill a team. We had some good runners. I don't know if I thought about winning that first state title until the week of the regional.

"You win one and you start thinking about a second. Every year (the program) seems to get bigger. I'm not surprised now that we've competed for a state title five straight years. To win, you have to have talent, girls who work hard and some luck.''

The Burros were first in the state coaches' poll most of the season. In the final poll, H-CV's Reagan Baesler (first), Jensyn Zink (fifth) and Gracie Wright (ninth) were ranked in the top 10 individually. At state last year Baesler finished third, Wright sixth and Zink 13th. M.J. Pruneda has been the No. 4.

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"They're as good as any top three we've had,'' Kirk Zink said. "If they all have a good day, we could have three in the top six.

"We've had three all-staters every year we've won state. I don't see that changing this year. But our depth isn't as good as it's been.''

Still, the Burros' program keeps rolling.

"The kids do an awesome job of recruiting other kids,'' Kirk Zink said. "They push each other every day in practice. They're in the weight room and on the treadmill in the offseason.''

Other notable area runners include: Mayville-Portland-CG's Cailee Peterson, who is ranked third and finished fourth at state last season; Hatton-Northwood-Thompson's Mackenzie Holkesvig, Lana Krack and Kennedi Soine; Griggs County Central's Mikayla Koening; and Grafton's Carlee Sieben.

Chasing New Town

Defending Class B boys cross country champion and top-ranked New Town had the top two individuals and six of the top seven in the final state poll.

Rugby was second in the final B poll, with Hillsboro-CV fourth and Hatton-Northwood-Thompson fifth.

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"Nobody is thinking about beating New Town,'' Kirk Zink said.

Top area runners include: Ethan Brown, Griggs County Central; Pierce Cooper and Jacob Hendrickson, Hatton-Northwood-Thompson; and Hillsboro-CV's Chase Fossum, Eli Nelson and, coming back from an injury, Colton Anderson.

Rams riding athleticism

Section 8A champion Roseau plays Virginia in Tuesday's opening round of the Minnesota Class A girls tennis tournament.

Roseau's lineup includes seven three-sport athletes and three who are two-sport athletes.

"I think almost all of these girls would describe something different than tennis as their No. 1 sport,'' Roseau coach Jeff Swanson said. "Virginia is a traditional tennis power. Most of their kids probably are tennis-first players. And the private schools at state, those are tennis-first kids.

"I think we can balance that with our athleticism to a point. We'll see girls who hit the ball better. I think our athleticism will help us keep the ball in play and be competitive.''

For most of the Rams players, it will be the first state appearance in any state high school league-sponsored athletic activity.

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"It's every athlete's goal to get to a state tournament,'' Swanson said. "I'm sure it was a pretty big motivation for these kids.''

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