By: Matt Coy
Senior Alec Atwood held off a diving Braden Peters of West Central at the finish of the 2018 Class A boy’s state cross country race. Atwood’s first place finish is the first ever state cross country title for a Watchdog male runner.
Atwood collapsed after crossing the tape in 16:07.84 just .23 ahead of Peters in 16:09.07.
A pack of over 15 runners bunched-up on the Yankton Trail course in Sioux Falls. The slower than usual pace was a clear sign that no runner wanted to take the lead into the brisk and chilly afternoon winds.
At the 2K mark, the pack finally began to stretch out, as Atwood, Peters, Camden Wulf of Lennox, Nathaniel Youngblood of Custer, and Jarek Glenn quickened their pace in front of the large state meet crowd.
Sophomore Nico Sanz Curros fell off the lead pack but held onto the top-15, as the once tight pack continued to string out.
Senior Dallas Davis, juniors Brandon Andrews and Matthew Hoffman, and 7thgrader Andrew Atwood began to settle into their own paces as they raced for a good team finish.
As the lead runners flew by the crowd at the 4K mark, it was evident the state title would come down to Atwood and Peters. The duo ran stride for stride as neither could break away from the other.
In the 2017 state meet, Atwood came from behind down the final homestretch to nip Peters at the tape for 2ndplace by just .67 seconds. The 2018 race was shaping up to be another dandy of a finish for the two longtime competitors and friends.
Rounding the final sharp turn with 300-meters to race, Atwood surged ahead of Peters to grab an inside advantage around the final tree. Peters swung wide just off of Atwood’s right shoulder.
The two were now nearing full speed and digging for everything they had left in the tank. Legs clearly began to tire and wobble and they struggled to keep good running form.
The crowd leaned over the flagging and stood on tip-toes, hoping to get a glimpse of a rare gold-medal photo finish at a cross country meet.
Atwood mustered up a final surge and gained a half-step advantage. Peters staggered and reacted with a valiant dive for the finish line. Atwood leaned hard for the tape as Peters crashed to the ground just shy of the finish line strip.
Atwood stayed upright for just a few steps beyond the finishing line before collapsing to the ground in exhaustion. The new state champion was helped to the side of the finish chute area by meet workers as he was too tired to stand on his own.
Atwood held himself up on the support fence and tried to catch his breath as he looked back to the course for his teammates.
Sanz Curros was not far behind, finishing as a medalist in his first state meet in 14thplace with a time of 16:59.
Andrews made a strong move with a mile left, passing over a dozen runners in the final moments to finish with a season-best time of 17:57 and 40thplace finish.
Hoffman rounded out the team scoring as he held on for a 59thplace time of 18:19 in his first state meet race.
Andrew Atwood placed 65thout of the 131 runners with a time of 18:30 in just the 5th5K of his young career.
Davis, who battled a sickness all week and missed several training days, finished in 81stin 19:01.
The Beresford boys earned a top-six plaque for the 3rdstraight year, placing 5thwith 85 team points. Custer was 1stwith 60, Vermillion 2ndwith 66, STM placed 3rdwith 72 points, and SF Christian was 4thwith 78 points.
The winds finally began to calm down as the day progressed, and the Class A girl’s race at 2:00 PM saw temps in the mid-40s with ample sunshine.
Beresford XC runners and fans lined the start area as the girls readied themselves at the start.
Freshman Anna Atwood charged out of the starting chute as the gun fired, hoping to secure her first ever state XC meet medal.
Atwood and junior Jaycee Fischer would move to the front third of the pack at the mile mark, working their way through the enclosed flags of the course.
Sophomores Laura Bogue and Gabrielle Engbarth, and junior Jordyn Fischer ran in the middle of the pack through the first 3K. Junior Katie Knutson was just seconds behind her three teammates.
With just 800 meters to race, Atwood grimaced as she sat just inside of a top-25 medalist position. She would fend off other runners in the final three minutes of the race, and used her strength down the long homestretch, finishing 22ndin 20:05.
Jaycee continued to pass runners as she capped off her impressive first season of cross country with a 38thplace finish in 20:48.
Bogue continued to improve with each race this season, finishing in 77thwith a time of 21:45. She made a big move with a mile to go that ended up paying off as she was the third runner to finish for the Dawgs.
Also in her first season, Jordyn Fischer held on for an 83rdplace finish with another great time of 21:55.
Engbarth, already running in her third state meet, placed 97thin 22:10, and Knutson ran tough onc again for a 124thplace time of 24:15.
The girls team would finish 11thwith a team score of 167 points. Custer won the meet with 50 points and Hill City was 2ndwith 63.
Along with the boys’ team placing of 5th, the Beresford Watchdogs finished the state meet ranked 6thoverall in the combined team standings. Only teams who qualify a full boys and girls team are eligible for the combined team award.
With 50 XC teammates traveling on the bus to cheer-on the state qualifiers. We had a huge team camp with food, hot chocolate, music, posters and more.
Thank you to the seniors for a memorable season and career. We will miss you Grace Quartier, Faith Weiland, Alec Atwood, and Dallas Davis.