Cross country turns out eighteen
By Eric Killelea
Ranger-Review Staff Writer
Six times a week, the cross-country team meets at 8 a.m. in the front entrance of the Dawson County High School and begins running along Kendrick Avenue to Lloyd Square Park.
“We’re trying to get our base mileage in,” said Tom Temple, who is taking over the DCHS head coach position, after his brother, Jim, stepped down last year. “When you have high school kids, they are coming in at all different levels. You have to tailor the workouts for the kids that need a little more and the kids that are new. I’m trying to figure out where they are right now.”
Ten boys and eight girls run as a coed team to prepare for upcoming 5K races in the Class A Conference. Earlier this year, the Montana High School Association switched the statewide cross-country format from a 3-mile distance to 5K, after coaches reasoned that most other states and colleges use 5K, or 3.1 miles.
“North Dakota has been running 5K for a while,” Temple said. “Now, we’re all the same. I don’t think it will affect us much.”
Temple added: “We do mile splits (breaking up the former 3-mile format), but we also do 800-meter (nearly half mile) and 1K (.62 miles) workouts to divide up the 5K into training units. The bottom line is the splits allow you to measure fall off when you start the race. As you get better conditioned, you can see if you have a batter fall off. You want to run a smart race. We harp on the kids to think through the race before they get out there and run.”
Last season, the girls’ cross country team placed 2nd at divisionals and 10th at state, as the boys team finished 3rd and 12th, respectively. The squads have since lost several top athletes to graduation, including Kendra Zander, Tristan Hilgart and Travis Kinn.
But the teams now welcome back senior runners in Ase Ackerman, Ben Stortz and Emily Kuehn.
Kuehn placed at state tournaments in her sophomore and junior years. As Temple explained, Kuehn “is running competitively and she’ll definitely be on the hunt for an All-State position.”
Stortz, a state wrestling champion, “is making us more competitive,” while Ackerman, who was battling injuries as a junior, comes back strong.
“I anticipate state for him,” Temple said.
Also on the girls’ team are juniors Julia Temple and Alexis Moos, sophomores Chloe Mires, Kasidi Walker, Mishal Lucido and Natalia Carney and freshman Keely Undem. The boys’ team also has juniors Logan Phipps and Myles Stinnett, sophomores Caleb Grigsby, JKustin Skartved, Gavin Palmer, Logan Alkire and Louis Harrington and freshman Derek Parent.
Temple takes over the cross country program after his brother helped build it over 11 years.
“Jim placed at state three different years and we want to maintain that competitiveness,” said Tom, once a member of Dickinson State University Track and Field who went on to coach the academic, basketball, track and cross country teams for the past 28 years.
In just his third season coaching cross-country and his first as the top trainer, Temple has garnered support from assistant coach Anita Selvig, a DCHS physical education teacher who is “part of the Selvig pedigree,” Temple said. Selvig and her husband, Doug, both played basketball for the University of Montana in the 1980s, and her brother-in-law, Robin Selvig, the women’s basketball coach for the Lady Griz, retired after completing his 38th season in 2016. “Anita has extensive coaching experience at all levels in different sports and she knows about competitiveness and knows about the kids,” Temple said.
This season, Temple and Selvig are hoping the boys break “phenomenal” 17 minute 5K and “competitive” 19 minute races, as the girls run “pretty darn good” 19-to-21-minute times, Temple said.
To meet such goals, the coaches are focused on teaching athletes the importance of conditioning and running form. “Everybody thinks running is simple and you go out and do it,” Temple said. “But there’s a lot more than that. We work on endurance, speed, flexibility and talk strategies to maximize their performance on the course. There’s a lot more to it than stepping up to the line and run.”
The team is scheduled to compete in the Eastern A Time Trails at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 26 in Hardin.
“They’re just great kids,” Temple said. “They work hard. In the end, they have the most energy in school and tend to do great in the classroom even. I’m always proud of the kids. I kind of wish we get more. It’s one of those sports, the more the merrier.”
Reach Eric Killelea at firstname.lastname@example.org.