Panthers bring home titles
BISMARCK – Nolan Hovland didn’t need to break any personal records or do anything out of the ordinary at the Class B track and field state tournament in Bismarck last week.
Hovland just needed to be a Hovland. The name grew synonymous with state titles when his older sisters, Crystal and Aubrey, captured back-to-back individual championships earlier this decade.
The RHS junior and younger brother joined his siblings and started his own run as a state champion with a leap of 6 feet, 4 inches, to win the high jump. Nolan said he first believed in the possibility of winning this season when he cleared a personal-best of 6-3 in the opening meet of the year.
“I surprised myself and I knew most kids don’t even qualify,” he said, “so if I jumped my best, I could do it.”
At state, Nolan cleared 6-4 on his first attempt and had control going into the next round with one competitor. Grafton’s Austin Contreras needed a second attempt at 6-4 and neither cleared 6-5. Nolan tried not to watch Contreras when it was down to them, and focused on keeping himself long over the bar.
“Nolan was attacking the bar well today,” RHS jumps coach Steve Mueller said. “There’s more in him too. He can go higher and that’s the exciting part.”
Mueller said Hovland’s growth and maturity was evident early in the season.
“I thought he can continue the Hovland tradition and he proved us right,” Mueller said.
Crystal won titles in the 300 hurdles in 2010 and 2011. Aubrey won titles in the high jump in 2012 and 2013.
Nolan’s championship was the lone title for the Panthers in the boys and girls competitions. The RHS boys finished sixth overall with 37 points. Kindred won the meet at 81 followed by Killdeer (55) and New Town (52).
RHS was without big points typically provided by senior sprinter Nigel Hageness, who pulled up midway through the 100-meter preliminaries with a nagging hamstring injury. Hageness was unable to compete in the relays.
“All-in-all, I thought it was pretty good,” RHS coach Scott Grochow said. “If Nigel is healthy and Brad’s healthy, then things are different. That’s just part of high school athletics. I thought the kids came out and did their best and it just so happened we were short of being in the top five.”
Junior jumper Brad Heidlebaugh had the boys’ next-best finish as runner-up in the triple jump with a mark of 44 feet, 3.5 inches. Ellendale junior Kellemon Hinton won at 46-3.
“This is my first year, so second is good at the state meet,” Heidlebaugh said. “I just wish Miller and Tanner would’ve done better.”
Junior Zach Miller was fifth in the event. Heidlebaugh was fifth in long jump and junior Tanner Bernhardt placed eighth. Heidlebaugh took third in discus and sophomore Victor Gronvold was eighth in pole vault.
The RHS girls finished in a six-way tie for 11th place with 18 points. The Panthers showed strong in the relays with fourth-place times in the 400, 1,600 and 3,200 events.
“I was hoping for a little bit more, to be honest,” RHS coach Bill Jansen said. “We had some things happen that weren’t real great, but we saw some kids bounce back.”
RHS senior Hannah Christenson struggled in the open 400 preliminaries, but rebounded with great performances in the longest two relays.
“That was really a highlight for me,” Jansen said.
Junior sprinter Emily Stier turned in the best individual performance on the team with a seventh-place finish in the 200-meter dash. Stier ran 26.47 seconds.
Sophomore Lauren Kraft set a personal-best of 34-2.5 in the triple jump to take eighth.
“I look at a lot of positives,” Jansen said. “We had a lot of kids get there for the first time. Kari Fritel had her first state experience in shot put, so she can look back at her 9th-grade and say, ‘I was a little inexperienced and I’m not gonna do that again.’ I didn’t get my three Stier sisters on the stand, but they were very close and we have another year to do that.”
Senior thrower Mattie Schmitt (Towner), the region champion in discus and javelin, struggled in her final meet, but Jansen expressed gratitude for Schmitt’s hard work through six years.
“Mattie’s really been a big-meet competitor and you could really count on her, so I was sad to not see her do what she wanted,” he said.
Carrington won its third straight team title with 87 points. Watford City was second (59) and Hillsboro-Central Valley third (52).
Panthers bring home titles
FARGO – The top spot of the North Dakota Class B boys golf state tournament leaderboard did not change Wednesday.
Rugby senior Jack McClintock successfully held his Day 1 lead and won medalist honors carding an even-par 71 at Rose Creek Golf Course. McClintock finished the two-day tournament shooting a 5-under 137.
Armed with a two-shot lead over Region 4 rival Nick Myhre heading into the final round, McClintock shot a 1-under 35 with birdies on holes 5 and 9.
“On the first tee I thought of it as a new tournament,” said McClintock, who is signed to play golf at St. Cloud State University. “That two stroke lead helped going into it, but I just tried to play the best I could. Overall, I played a really good round.”
As McClintock approached Hole 14 he was 8-under for the tournament and held a seven-shot lead over Myhre, of Northern Lights.
“Jack has been playing well lately,” Rugby head coach Gary Myhre said. “He won the region tournament and for him to come here and play the way he did the last two days at the biggest tournament of the year was an outstanding way to end his high school career. I’m very proud of him. He wasn’t going to sit back and let the other golfers come back. He just got after it and never let up.”
McClintock placed eighth at state a year ago and earned third-place as a sophomore. Both seasons prepared him for the final push.
“Having those experiences really helps you in these situations,” McClintock said. “Once I got to the 18th hole I knew I was ahead, but still at that point I was beyond nervous. I knew I had to score well to stay ahead.”
Nick Myhre, who won medalist honors at last year’s state tournament, shot an even-par 142 and helped Northern Lights – a co-op team of Rolette, Rolla and St. John – to a team championship. Northern Lights finished with 619 strokes.
“It’s something we had as a team goal at the beginning of the season,” said Nick Myhre, who is signed to play golf at North Dakota State. “I’m really satisfied with the team championship. An individual championship would have been nice too, but Jack played really well both days of the tournament. He deserved to win.”
Dickinson Trinity finished second with team-total of 629 and Central Cass took third place with 637 strokes.
Hillsboro-Central Valley’s Jake Preston shot a 2-over 73 and finished the tournament with a 3-over 145 to tie for third place with Dickinson Trinity’s Willy Jahner.
Fargo Oak Grove senior Nick Card placed fifth with a 4-over 146.
Austin Reed of Hillsboro-Central Valley and Cody Pulczinski also finished in the top 10 for all-state honors.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at 241-5562.