Waldorf’s Marrisa Kuik blew the field away with a championship effort, while Nic Ganzeveld nearly gave the Warriors a sweep of the individual titles.
Kuik won the women’s North Star Athletic Association Cross Country Championship clocking a time of 18 minutes, 33.3 seconds on a 5-kilometer course on Friday, winning by more than 15 seconds.
The men’s 8K race for the NSAA title proved to be much more heated, despite running through snowy weather at the Parkhurst Cross Country Course.
Ganzeveld raced stride for stride with Matthew Young of Jamestown, with the two outdistancing the rest of the field by nearly a minute. But at the line, Young just edged out Ganzeveld for the title as the Waldorf senior clocked a time of 24:36.0. Young won in 23:34.7.
Warrior teammate Andrew Murley had an equally close finish, holding on for third place – giving Waldorf a 1-2-3 result overall on the day – as Murley clocked a time of 25:24.5 on the 8K course.
“I was very proud of how every single one of our athletes showed up and raced today,” Waldorf head coach Kayla Kregel said, as the Warrior men finished fourth as a team and the women were fifth. “We went out and took risks to put us in the position to PR (run personal records); which every single runner did today. That’s very hard to do, but they all did.”
Along with a personal record, and the NSAA Championship, Kuik broke the school record for the 5K for the third time this year. She also was named NSAA Women’s Runner of the Year, and is one of three Warriors who raced their way to the NAIA National Championships on Nov. 18 in Vancouver, Wash.
Joining Kuik at nationals will be Ganzeveld and Murley, who both also earned NSAA All-Conference honors, and who each broke the Waldorf school record for the 8K of 25:56 run by Ganzeveld in 2016. Ganzeveld’s 24:36.0 is now the No. 1 time at the 8K distance for Warrior men, while Murley’s 25:45.5 is No. 2 all-time. Murley also was named the Warrior men’s team’s Champion of Character.
“I’m very proud of Marissa, Nic and Andrew for qualifying for nationals,” Kregel said. “That’s a very special accomplishment and an inspiration for this program.
“Now we are going to focus on getting ready for another championship meet.”
While the top finishes and berths to nationals were some of the highlights on the day, the entire team’s performance left Coach Kregel brimming with pride, as well.
“Everybody focused in, showed up with positive attitudes to embrace running in a blizzard, and fought as a team.”
Helping power the women’s top-five finish was Marissa Widener – who was named Waldorf’s women Champion of Character – as she finished 23rd overall in 21:12.1. Bailey Matthaidess was next, finishing 27th in 22:15.6, Charley Buddenhagen was right behind her teammate, in 28th in 22:24.0, and Taylor Navratil finished 33rd in 24:19.1.
Rounding out the women’s team were Clara Roderick, who was 39th in 25:23.7, and Katelynn Ramirez, who was 42nd in 26:33.7.
On the men’s side, Chasen Selsor added a Top-25 finish as he was 21st overall for the Warriors in 27:36.5, while Mark Ahlers was 29th in 28:59.0, Jesse Vega was 33rd in 29:20.5, and Alden Zeller rounded out the Waldorf finishers in 37th in 33:05.0.
The NSAA team titles went to Dickinson State, which scored 43 points to claim the men’s championship, and 27 points to win the women’s title. Waldorf was fourth on the men’s side with 88 points, and fifth in the women’s team race with 112 points.