Bulldogs ready to run at state this Friday

Seven boys and one girl will represent Ogden this Friday at the 1A state cross country meet. / Photo by Craig Shultz
Craig Shultz
Ogden Reporter Editor

This Friday morning marks a culmination of months of hard work for the Ogden cross country runners. For the boys, this marks their fifth month of running together and striving towards their goals which are ahead of them at the 1A state cross country meet at the Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge. It also marks the end of Kayden Spencer’s career as she will run individually to represent Ogden.

This marks the fourth straight trip for the Ogden boys, and seventh time in the last eight seasons. Ogden also did it in a historic manner by being the first team to bring home a district championship in school history. Spencer will be in her third race in Fort Dodge.

“When we go to a district meet in 1A, we usually compete with 19 to 20 schools for the top two spots to move on to the state meet. While our team has had its share of success over the last 10 years, the boys qualifying for the state meet seven of the last eight years, it's always challenging to be that team that comes out on top,” Ogden coach Ryan Kobliska said. “Our guys started training together back in June and they have five months together to get to this point. Coming out on top, first time being the first place team at a state qualifying meet is very satisfying for us to see how far the guys have come together

“Same thing with Kayden. She’s somebody that’s qualified for state three times now. Each year she’s gotten a little faster and placed a little higher at the end of the season. This year she’s at a point where she placed fifth at the qualifying meet, and the girls in fourth and sixth were ranked 13th and 20th so Kayden’s starting to work her way up.”

For the boys, a big focus has been working together and running as a team and not a group of individuals has been something that’s carried them. A trio of seniors have helped paved the way for the Bulldogs this season in Payton Van Sickle, Jordan King and Parker Trusler have all been helping to lead some of the younger guys on the varsity.

“It’s always been a big focus for our team to run for each other and not ourselves,” Kobliska said. “We do stress team first. With the boys this year we’ve had a group that’s had some adversity and we had to move guys around.”

King, who was one of their top runners last year, missed half the season with an injury, has created some different lineups for the Bulldogs. Kobliska said the team has been fluid, and the guys who finish in fourth through eighth have been interchangeable, which is a strength for the team.

Kobliska believes that Spencer can do well in the girls race and show improvement from year’s past.

“We’re hoping that she can with where she’s been in the second half of the season, we’re hoping she can work into that top 15,” Kobliska said. “With some of the races she’s been running the last half of the season, we think she’s got a pretty good shot to get there.”

For the boys, Kobliska stated their mission since the start of summer has been to build the best team they can.

“The boys have had success this season, throughout the year, the boys have consistently been ranked in the top five or six in the state,” Kobliska said. “We want to get the starting line Friday, prepared for our best effort of the season, and we hope we’ve improved enough throughout the season that our best can be up there. Maybe it’s in the top 10 or the top five.”

Coach Kobliska noted that AC/GC, Iowa City Regina and Woodbine might be the frontrunners in a super competitive field. He thinks it’ll be deep and the competition will be strong for those trophies.

The runners involved with going to the state meet also offered up some thoughts about last week and what’s to come on Friday.

Payton Van Sickle, a senior, said it felt exciting to win a district championship this past week. He felt confident that they could do it, and their training through the season has been productive to get them to that point.

“It’s really exciting,” he said of qualifying for state. “I know a few of our guys have been here before and we know what we’re doing here. Still a little scared about the different things that could be coming about like the weather, but that doesn’t hinder us from what we can do.”

Overall, he is excited and feels like he can help the team. Van Sickle was ranked earlier this year individually, but thinks rankings can sometimes hinder the mentals for the team for a race. He feels like their team can go behind the ranking sheet might say.

Parker Trusler, another senior for the Bulldogs, admitted it was exciting to win a district championship last week. He liked how excited everyone else was on the team, and their spirits were pretty high after winning it.

“It felt pretty good,” Trusler said. “This is my fourth time qualifying for state and it’s very exciting. Me, Payton and Jordan were all able to do it.”

He feels this being his fourth time on the course will be a benefit to helping Ogden. Trusler wants to help in any way he can with the team, and hopes he can set a new personal record in his final race.

Jordan King, senior, liked being a part of Bulldog history. He also noted that it was neat being part of history as himself, Trusler and Payton Van Sickle are the first to qualify for state all four years. King feels like their momentum has been building for a long while and they have a good shot.

“I think it’s going to help a lot,” King said of knowing the course on Friday. “Those turns are going to be something you need to watch out for. Those hills you can either take them quick and fast or make sure you go at a steady pace.”

He added to make sure to stick with your pace and to focus on the goals. King added that the success of recent years will help younger kids want to take part in Ogden cross country. He did make note of that it takes years to reach the point they’re at and it doesn’t happen overnight.

Levi Russo said being part of history didn’t really sink in right away about being part of history last week, and didn’t realize until later. He said they just ran it like just any other race.

That mindset is something that might help them on Friday. This is Russo’s first time racing at state but was an alternate as a sophomore.

“I’m sure there will be when I get there,” Russo said of potential nerves. “I’m excited more so than nervous.”

Jude Benbow, the sunglasses wearing sophomore, explained why he wears them while he races.

“Well, my eyesight with the sun is pretty bad and the glasses help me so much,” he said. “It just makes me able to see where I’m going.”

Being part of what he called a great team, to win a district championship was great. He was also part of last year’s state team and feels knowing the course will help him along with the rest of the returning runners.

“It’s good to know what’s coming up and what the course is like,” he said.

Carson Van Sickle, a junior, stated it felt great to win the district last week, and the feeling of knowing your name is going to be remembered is great.

“It’s definitely a great feeling saying that our team has made it seven of the last eight years,” he said of making it to state. “I know what we’re expecting looking at the forecast and other teams.”

He feels their odds are good, and running there is an advantage. He said it creates a mindset of doing it before. Van Sickle added there is a different mindset to get ready for state and a bit less running.

Brady Van Sickle, sophomore, is a new face to the varsity and made state in his first go around.

“It’s very fun going out there and competing,” he said. “Ultimately just wanting to get better every single race.”

He liked being part of the district championship but said there is a bigger focus coming up with the state meet. Having upperclassmen to lean on is a benefit for Van Sickle, to draw on their experience. He did admit to some nerves, however.

Kayden Spencer, senior, is the lone girl running at state for Ogden and while she was proud to get back to state, she also felt some sorrow for her teammates.

“It felt really cool,” she said. “I was kinda sad my teammates didn’t get to come along with me because it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for the last three years I’ve gone. I’m really glad I got to make it.”

The Bulldog girls finished third, just out of the top two, and Spencer said she was frustrated to have the team that close to making it.

“It’ll be really nice to know all the hills and turns,” she said of knowing the course. “It really helps you to know where those are at.”

In the last couple of years, Spencer has placed around the top 40 and she hopes to crack the top 30 or hover around where she has been previously.

The 1A girls race gets underway at 10:30 a.m. on Friday and the 1A boys race will follow. We will have updates on Friday morning as the results come in on our social media pages.


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