XC Boys win Killdeer meet
By Jarann Johnson
The Hazen-Beulah Miners walked into their second meet of the year a little bit unsure of what to expect. The meet in Killdeer last Thursday was a varsity debut for several runners, but also being run on a course that was 1,000 meters short.
The girls’ course was a 3k instead of a 4k and the boys’ race was a 4k instead of a 5k. The distance each race was short was about a half mile.
For the boys, the short race went well. Aaron Vallejo, running his first cross-country meet ever, jumped out to an early lead. Vallejo slowed down toward the end of the race but still had enough energy left the to win the race by a margin of six seconds. The runners closing in on Vallejo near the end of the race weren’t enemy colors, they were his own teammates.
Vallejo’s winning time of 15 minutes and 16 seconds was first, then Adam Becker followed in second six seconds behind (15:22) and Jacob Weigel took third overall, coming in at 15:27.
A few moments later Logan Miller came in, giving Beulah-Hazen the first four runners to finish the race. Miller’s time was 15:47.
The chance for a perfect sweep was ruined by a Hettinger-Scranton runner, Carlos Martinez, and two Watford City runners – Devin Schmitz and Dakota Garmann. But it wasn’t enough to hold the Beulah-Hazen cross-country team off from their first win of the year. Josten Hafner locked in the win with an eighth place showing, finishing in 16:13. Spencer Mattheis followed behind by four seconds, giving Beulah six runners in the top ten.
The girls also had a strong day, taking third overall. The most exciting part of the girls’ race was near the end when two Watford City runners, Asha Smith and Kayla Ogle, battled Beulah-Hazen No. 1 runner Kaylene Klein.
Klein sprinted past Ogle but didn’t have enough of a kick to top Smith, the No. 9-ranked runner in last week’s state poll. Smith finished in first in 12:00 and Klein followed 10 seconds behind.
Ogle finished in 12:10 as well but was narrowly behind Klein.
The only other top 10 runner for the Beulah-Hazen cross-country team was Erin Walcker. Wackler took eighth overall in 13:41.
The Killdeer meet was Katie Duttenheffer’s first chance to run for the season and she did well, taking 13th overall (14:52). Kalvyn Hettich finished one place behind in 14:48.
Baylee Vondra also cracked the top 20 of the small meet, taking 20th place overall and finishing in 15:24. The only other runner for the girls was Echo Burge, making her varsity debut. Burge finished in 18:17.
After the race, Head Coach Mary Hoherz praised Vallejo’s mental attitude during the race and big heart.
“Aaron’s first run, he’s had some good practice runs, so we just weren’t sure. Plus, him understanding the strategy of the whole run. It was great to see him run like that, I think there is a lot of learning left, figuring things out that he has to understand. That’s one thing about that kid, he was self-talking to himself. He kept himself positive,” Hoherz said. “He’s mentally tough and he works hard in practice.”