GIRLS TRACK: H-CV’s Rotvold overcomes early dislike for long races

Annika Rotvold didn't exactly take to long-distance running quickly. Hurdles were her thing in junior high. She ran the 800 twice, once as a seventh-grader and once as an eighth-grader. She wasn't impressed. "I didn't know if I wanted to run that...

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Annika Rotvold

Annika Rotvold didn’t exactly take to long-distance running quickly.

Hurdles were her thing in junior high. She ran the 800 twice, once as a seventh-grader and once as an eighth-grader. She wasn’t impressed.

“I didn’t know if I wanted to run that far again,’’ Rotvold said. “It seemed like too many laps around the track to me.’’

Nowadays, two laps around the track is a short jaunt for the Hillsboro High School  senior. Rotvold has some of the best times in the Class B girls distance races entering this weekend’s state track meet in Bismarck. She is the No. 1 seed in the 1,600 and the No. 2 seed in the 800 behind Hillsboro-Central Valley teammate Gracie Wright.

Rotvold can thank classmate and teammate Shayla Fossum for laying the groundwork for distance running.


“A bunch of us girls tried cross country my freshman year,’’ Rotvold. “I got a text from Shayla the day practice started, saying she was going to try cross country and wondering if I wanted to. It sounded like fun, so I did.

“I never thought I’d be very good at (distance running). If I hadn’t tried cross country, I don’t know if I would have tried the distances in track. It would have been a lot different for me, I think.’’

Success wasn’t instant. That freshman season, Rotvold finished 35th at the state cross country meet and third in the 3,200 in the region track meet.

But, since then, she’s been a top-four placer at the state cross country meet each of the past three seasons. Rotvold was runner-up in the 800 and 1,600 in the region track meet as a sophomore, then swept the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 titles at the region each of the past two seasons. At state, she was seventh in the 1,600 as a sophomore and runner-up in the 800 last spring.

“I never would have dreamed I could do all that when I was younger,’’ Rotvold said. “But after the state cross country meet my sophomore year, when my goal was to make the top 20 and I finished fourth, I started thinking maybe I could do this.

“I wouldn’t call myself a natural. I’ve had to put in a lot of miles.’’

Unlike Rotvold, Hillsboro-Central Valley coach Heidi Eckart isn’t surprised by the long-distance running success of the senior, who has signed letters of intent to compete in track and cross country at Augustana College in Sioux Falls.

“We knew early on that Annika would be a good one,’’ Eckart said. “She didn’t see it herself. She’s a quiet girl and her confidence level wasn’t very high at first. But watching her running stride, you could see see she could be a special runner. She has ability, and she’s such a hard worker. She’s steady and consistent. You always know what you’ll get from Annika on the track.


“We’ve told her for years that the best is still ahead of her. I still feel her best running is ahead of her.’’

Some other area athletes to watch in the Class B girls state meet include:

@ Jocelyn Dinius, Langdon Area: The junior was a top-eight placer in four open events last season, including seconds in the 100 and pole vault. Dinius takes top-eight seeds into the state meet in the pole vault (second), 100 hurdles (tied for third) and 100 (tied for sixth).
@ Amber Hunsaker, Thompson: The senior has the five best B girls javelin throws in the state this season and seven of the best eight. Hunsaker also is seeded fifth in the shot put and sixth in the discus.
@ Beatrice Kjelland, Park River Area: The freshman has the two fastest Class B times in the state in the 100 this season and six of the fastest seven, as well as the two fastest times reported to the NDHSAA in the 200. She finished seventh in the 100 last season.
@ Kylie Pastian, Hillsboro-Central Valley: The senior has top-eight seeds in the long jump (second), triple jump (second) and 100 (tied for sixth).

@ Elaina Swartz, Park River Area: The freshman is seeded second in the 100 hurdles and third in the 300 hurdles, as well as tied for sixth in the high jump.
@ Lexy Wittmayer, Rolette-Wolford: The junior is not only defending state high jump champion, but set a state record when she cleared 5 feet, 10 inches last season. She’s the No. 1 seed with a season-best jump of 5-6.
@ Gracie Wright, Hillsboro-Central Valley: The freshman has the Class B girls’ five fastest times in the 400 this season as well as the fastest time in the 800, an event in which she placed eighth last season.

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