Smith runs away with State Cross Country crown
By Neal A. Shipman
For Watford City’s Asha Smith, last Saturday’s State Cross Meet was everything that she could have hoped for. And then some.
But then who could blame Smith for not enjoying a day that she described as being beautiful and perfect for running in.
And Smith definitely took advantage of the cool temperatures and ideal running conditions at the Bjornson Golf Course in Valley City as she turned in a personal best time of 14:36.79 to win the State Class B Girls Cross Country Meet.
“It was the most fun that I’ve ever had at a Cross Country Meet,” states Smith, a Watford City sophomore All-Stater. “It was a beautiful day and a big crowd of my supporters really helped me.”
For Smith, who finished in 17th place at last year’s State Cross Country Meet, this year’s first place finish was especially meaningful.
“Last year I had some health issues,” states Smith. “But this year, I was more focused, I didn’t take it as seriously and let how I ran become so mental. I competed because I like running.”
And for Smith, overcoming health issues and changing her approach to competition made all the difference for her.
During this year’s State Meet, Smith literally ran away from the competition as she finished 17 seconds ahead of Carrington’s Ashley Neumiler, who entered Saturday’s race as the No. 1 runner in the Class B ranks.
“I ran neck and neck with Neumiler for about the first mile,” states Smith. “After that I just started to pull away from her and everyone else. I just felt I could go harder and I did. I surprised myself at how fast I ran.”
But for Greg Brown, Wolves’ head coach, he wasn’t surprised at Smith’s performance.
“Asha has defeated many demons over this season,” stated Brown. “She ran extremely well on Saturday and did not leave any possibility to question who was the top Class B runner this year. She was extremely excited to win the championship on Saturday because she has been working so long to get there.”
Overall, the Wolves’ girls team, which did not have a full slate of runners, placed in 18th place at State. Also placing for the girls team was Addison Sundeen, 83rd, 18:01; Hayley Moe, 106th, 18:36; and Ricki Lindley, 154th, 19:28.
“The girls also ran very well,” stated Brown. “They ran a runner short due to injuries this year, but finished well as a team and still beat four to five teams that had five runners.”
Brown was also very pleased with how the Watford City boys team ran at State even though the team didn’t place in the top five.
“State Cross Country turned out to be a great day,” stated Brown. “The boys team finished in sixth place and was getting extremely close to breaking into the top five. It seems like we have been saying that for years, but we will at some point bring home a top five finish.”
On the boys team, the Wolves had six runners finish in under 20 minutes, with a few more just missing that mark.
“Our goal at the beginning of the season was to run under 20 minutes,” stated Brown. “The boys just need that little extra over the year (running, weight lifting, etc.) to finally break into the top five.”
Braedon Gumke was the top finisher for the boys’ team with a 23rd place finish in a time of 18:12, while Michael Brown finished in 37th with a time of 18:43.
Also placing at State for the boys’ team was Devin Schmitz, 52nd, 19:10; Logan Gumke, 73rd, 19:44; Dakota Garmann, 74th, 19:44; Cole McGorman, 78th, 19:49; Dillon Smith, 95th, 20:13; Osman Leon, 105th, 20:23; Jack Gillespey, 111th, 20:31; and Trevor Alveshere, 147th, 21:45.