After the Whistle: Williston Cross Country teams bring home two state titles

After The Whistle

“If we did our best that’s all we can do but it was always the goal and we always knew we could do it,” Senior Eleni Lovgren said.

For back-to-back seasons the Williston Coyotes girls cross country team is standing above all the rest, winning the Class A team state title in Jamestown.

For senior Sierra Watterud, soaking in her last high school cross country meet was the biggest thing for her on that day.

“What ran through my mind was just thinking that last 200 meters I was like this is my last high school state cross country race and I have to give it everything I’ve got,” Watterud said. “And I got to remember it cause I’ll never get to do it again.”

The Williston Boys team also won the program’s sixth state title and the first one in three years. The win didn’t come easy for the Coyotes as it came down to the final seconds on the course.

“Stressful, very stressful cause you just didn’t know. I heard from my teammates that didn’t run they said we won by five but then I’m walking past other people and they were saying Red River won or Bismarck won it was all over the place. It was completely undecided until they announced it,” Junior Ivan Askim said.

Both head coaches Shane Wahlstrom and Chase Gregory say the worst part was not being able to see part of the course and not knowing how the team was doing until they came out of the woods.

“I’ll be honest I feel like I had two or three anxiety attacks on that day because of how that course is set up, in the first mile or mile and a quarter you can’t even see the kids,” Shane Wahlstron, Boys Head Coach, said. “I didn’t even know where we were or any of our guys were for like seven minutes into the race.”

“So of course every coach is probably a nervous wreck trying to wait for their athletes to pop out,” Chase Gregory, Girls Head Coach, said. “But as soon as I saw Eleni and saw Sierra not far behind and then saw the rest of our team, it was like our runners were way in front of everyone else at that time.”

Askim and Gregory both said the work the teams put in throughout the season gave them confidence that they could win the big prize at the end of the season.

“Just everybody was showing up every day, every morning running, stretching, lifting. And so I think with everyone being there every day it kind of builds the culture and really gives us the skills we need to win” Askim said.

“Every practice, you know our team was so deep this year we had a lot of younger girls mixed in with the older ones that almost every practice was a competition, week by week everyone wanted to make the state team and that just helped us improve meet by meet,” Gregory said.

For both teams, they said bringing not one but two titles back in the same year is something very special, and having support from their community made it even better.

“It’s pretty cool and then just the whole town is awesome we had a huge send-off when we left at the school and at the rec center and then when we got back there were fireworks and all the parents were back and everything,” Lovegren said. “So it was cool for both of us to win cause they all supported us and for it to pay off for both us and for them.”

Eleni Lovgren, Sierra Watterud, Dru Zander and Marenn Larsen were all named to the all-state team for girls.

Ivan Askim, Fynn Krenz and Ethan Moe were named to all-state for boys.

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