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Red River shines as Grand Forks hosts Border Battle

The Roughriders program won the girls AA varsity 5K and came in second in the boys AA varsity 5K.

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High school runners take off from the starting line during the varsity girls A 5K race as part of the inaugural Grand Forks Border Battle at Lincoln Drive Park in Grand Forks on Saturday, September 24, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS – An unfamiliar passerby may have confused Saturday’s Border Battle cross country meet for a music festival at Lincoln Park.

Between the sea of people with lawn chairs, tents and speakers piping in some very clever running-themed tunes – Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush and I Ran by A Flock of Seagulls for instance – it was quite the party. Food trucks and impromptu football games provided an ambiance of a tailgate. An appropriate atmosphere for a stage bringing in over 50 different programs and 1,000 runners across North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota and even Manitoba.

Grand Forks Red River and Grand Forks Central, tasked with hosting the event replacing the Milaca Meet, had a very supportive community to work with to make the first year a success. Volunteers from UND and Grand Forks Parks were there to lend a helping hand.

“It’s insane the number of hours that went into this over the last six weeks,” Red River boy’s coach Richard Dafoe said. “It’s the best community in the world. Everybody cheers on everybody out there. Everyone is one big family and they are all in it together.”

Dafoe along with other Red River and Central coaches could be seen all over the grounds making sure the meet ran smoothly.

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“It speaks volumes, given how much Milaca meant to a lot of schools, that these schools then trusted us to take on that essence and create something similar with a Grand Forks twist that we are used to,” Red River girls co-head coach Nicole Kopff said.

With the responsibilities of running the event, there was a challenge in being on top of the coaching aspect of the meet. That didn’t seem to be a problem for Kopff and the Red River girls.

North Dakota’s Class A No. 4 and 5 runners, Jocelyn Schiller and Lauren Dosch, finished second and third in the girls varsity 5K and stayed with each other stride-by-stride crossing the finish line at 19:13.5 and 19:14.4. seconds, respectively. The Roughriders, who are ranked first in the latest Class A coaches poll, also saw Ava Parks (13) and Morgan Hartze (15) make it to the winner’s circle with top 20 finishes.

“Our team has really focused this year on thinking about us and not thinking about the competition. But having all these really good runners in one place really pushes everyone to get their best races out of it,” Schiller said.

Schiller and Dosch finished behind Watford City’s Jaelyn Ogle, the No. 1 Class A runner, who crossed the finish line at 18:41.4.

“Our coaches and we work on just running our own race a lot,: said Dosch. "Focusing on ourselves and not letting other people and other teams get into our heads. Even in a high stakes competition like this, we were confident."

Highly competitive meets are something the program has gotten used to this season. The road to state started in Jamestown and has been filled with neck-and-neck races and lessons to be learned.

“We’ve been fortunate this season,” Kopff said. “The Border Battle proved to be just like that again and it's just nice to our athletes from Red River and Central just get out there and stay aggressive and doesn't care about where they're from. They're just racing their race and being competitive every time.”

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Quinn Roehl of Central put up an impressive time of his own. His 15:43.5 finish was the second in the varsity AA 5K. As a team, the Red River boys were able to amass 87 points helped by three top 20 finishes from Jonah Dafoe (20), Micah Larsen-Schmidt (14) and Elijah Dafoe (20), as well as David Radke and Joe Quinn following right behind them at 21 and 22.

Bowman County broke a six-hour trip in half to get to Grand Forks, but they needed just 17 minutes for their five qualifiers to all cross the finish line in the boy’s AA 5K. Austin Wanner led that pack in his 16:17.8 first place time, then came Taylor Wanner in third, Caleb Sarsland in fourth, Gavin Lambourn in fifth and Jonah Njos in ninth.

“We left Friday and practiced in Bismarck so it wasn’t as bad. We’re going to have to do the same thing for Jamestown so we try to not let it affect us as much,” Austin Wanner said.

Obviously, travel and hotel accommodations play a big role in the development of this event. With sights set on expansion and a higher volume of programs, there is hope this event can become as memorable as the Milaca meet once was.

“Year one and we have 55 teams here, and it's only gonna grow,” Dafoe said. “That kind of economic impact is huge. Hopefully, after year one, we can double this and fill the community up with people, hitting restaurants and hotels and shopping while they're here.”

GF Border Battle

Boys AA

1.    36  Williston

1 Fynn Krenz 12 15:32.5

3 Ivan Askim 12 15:54.8

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5 Ethan Moe 12 16:12.2

11 Thomas Haskins 11 16:38.0

16 Kolden Kringen 12 16:53.4

  2.    87  Red River

10 Jonah Dafoe 12 16:37.8

14 Micah Larsen-Schmidt 11 16:51.9

20 Elijah Dafoe 10 17:02.9

21 David Radke 11 17:06.9

22 Joe Quinn 10 17:11.1

3.    87  Century

7 Gavyn Graham 11 16:27.3

9 Brody Ferderer 12 16:35.3

17 Nathan Schroeder 12 16:55.7

26 Ben Fryhling 10 17:18.6

28 Micah Erickson 10 17:21.4

  4.   112  Fargo North 

6 Owen Sondag 11 16:20.3

15 Eli Pederson 12 16:52.6

18 Gus Hillmer 10 16:56.4

32 Braxton Middaugh 12 17:29.5

41 Simon Pryor 12 17:48.3

  5.   171  Dickinson

12 Eli Hansen 12 16:45.9

13 Jace Cofer 12 16:49.2

39 Colton Christenson 9 17:44.6

52 Caleb Swisher 10 18:08.6

55 Max Lefor 12 18:15.0

Varsity Girls AA

1.    59  Red River

2 Jocelyn Schiller 11 19:13.5

3 Lauren Dosch 12 19:14.4

13 Ava Parks 9 20:10.4

15 Morgan Hartze 11 20:19.9

26 Brooke Dorsey 10 21:28.9

  2.    67  Williston 

7 Cambree Moss 8 19:46.6

10 Angela Wold 9 19:56.2

11 Marenn Larsen 12 19:58.1

16 Brynna Ames 10 20:30.4

23 Huntlie Carrier 8 21:23.1

  3.   115  Shanley

9 Lily Elbert 9 19:55.1

21 Elle Bernhardt 8 21:08.0

22 Madeline Abbott 11 21:09.0

24 Annika Aakre 9 21:23.4

39 Ellie Rogness 11 22:03.3

  4.   130  Valley City

4 Reagan Berg 11 19:27.0

8 Greta Goven 10 19:54.8

18 Brynn Leuck 7 20:45.9

42 Carly Goven 12 22:09.3

58 Cadence Fetsch 8 22:47.8

  5.   149  Hawley

17 Ivy Tickel 11 20:32.5

20 Lily Olson 10 20:49.4

25 Trista Baer 11 21:27.7

27 Mikayla Jelinek 8 21:33.7

60 Rachel Swan 8 23:00.6

Digital Content Producer and Sports Reporter at the Grand Forks Herald since December of 2020. Maxwell can be contacted at mmarko@gfherald.com.
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