Watford City cross country standout Kayla Ogle spent most of the 2017 regular season running against the best the Class A ranks had to offer.
Now, she hopes that experience will benefit her on Class B cross country’s biggest stage.
Ogle, a junior who is ranked No. 3 in the Class B girls poll heading into Saturday’s state meet at Valley City’s Bjornson Golf Course, competed in a number of regular-season meets that featured mostly Class A teams, including the Becki Wells Invitational (4th place), Mandan Kiwanis Meet (8th), Anderson-Stavn Invitational (9th), and Minot Invitational (9th). Victories were few during the regular season, but Ogle said she came out a winner in other ways.
“Most of the meets I ran in had mostly Class A teams, like Century, Bismarck, Legacy, Mandan, Grand Forks Central, Minot and Dickinson. Those were tough races, but I think they made me a better runner,” she said. “The Class A girls really pushed me and when you're pushed it brings out the best in you. I always believed that those experiences would pay off. I’m hoping it does in Valley City.”
Ogle, who won the West Region championship on Oct. 14, was one of Class B cross country’s top performers in 2016. She placed second in the state meet behind Hillsboro-Central Valley’s Reagan Baesler, who won the race by 6.7 seconds. Baesler and Ogle were ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.
Ogle said placing second was fine, but winning a state championship is the one and only goal this weekend.
“Taking second was pretty exciting last year,” she said. “I was happy with it. I did the best I could and I finished behind a really good runner. This year I want to win a state championship … that’s been my goal from the beginning. I’ve had a good year … I’m happy with the progress I’ve made. I know the competition is going to be really tough because it always is, but I’m ready to go out there and do my best.”
Ogle has faced a number of Top-10 Class A and Class B runners this season, but has yet to go against the top two in Class B – Elise Ramberg of Langdon and Lana Krack of Hatton-Northwood-Thompson. Krack did compete in the 2016 state meet, finishing 20th.
“Because of our schedule, I didn’t get a chance to race against either of those two, so I really don’t know anything about them,” Ogle said. “But that doesn’t matter. The only thing that I need to focus on is myself and how I run a race. And (Ramberg and Krack) aren’t the only ones to worry about. There are so many good runners out there, and anything can happen.”
Ogle had more than a West Region individual championship to celebrate on Oct. 14. Her sisters, Hayley and Jaelyn, finished second and third, respectively, and Watford City won the team championship.
“My sisters finishing right behind me was so exciting,” Kayla Ogle said. “Both of them have gotten stronger and stronger since the start of the year and I think they’re going to do really well at state. I think we can do well as a team, too. We had our best meet at regionals, and we're looking forward to seeing what we can do at state.”
Hayley Ogle, a freshman, finished fourth in last year’s state meet, and is ranked No. 10 in the poll. Jaelyn is a seventh-grader.
Rugby and Hillsboro-Central Valley are ranked 1-2 in the team poll.
In the boys division, New Town is favored to win its sixth consecutive state championship. The Eagles have three runners ranked in the top four – Robert White (2nd), Jalen Chase (3rd), and Jaiven Hale (4th). Chase is the defending state champion.
Isaac Huber of Edgeley-Kulm is the No. 1-ranked individual.
Coltan Hyttinen of Southern McLean is ranked No. 6.
The Class B girls race is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. The Class B boys race will follow at 2:45 p.m.