#25 Bismarck | North Dakota, Eh?

#25 Bismarck | North Dakota, Eh?

Sep 28, 2011 by FloTrack Staff
#25 Bismarck | North Dakota, Eh?

Ahhh...North Dakota, The Peace Garden State (I've recently learned no one knows what the heck it is. Google it.). This densely populated state is home to the geographic center of North America, which happens to be smack dab in the middle of a forlorn slough—BIG tourist attraction. How many of you have been on Bing trying to figure out where this state is? And no, Frances McDormand was way off with the accent...sort of. There is more to this rural state than huge fiberglass bison statues, missile silos, snow, and lefse (google that too)! In fact, it has been a stage to produce an elite running community for years! 

There are some famous people in the running family to come out of South Dakota's hat. Jerry Popp of Bowman, ND coached his girls team to a national record number of titles totaling 39 between the boys and girls team. Laura Roesler was an umpteen time state champion at Fargo South and has also been very successful on the national stage in short career thus far. Laura is just beginning her second year with the Ducks. Probably the most accomplished runner to come out of the state is Corey Ihmels from Williston. He was the 1991 Footlocker National Champ, and now is a successful coach at Iowa State, where he was also 6-time All American. Considering the atrocious conditions and facilities, we distance runners from NoDak are a tough and accomplished people.

Winter 'round here comes a little early here and seems to NEVER LEAVE IN SPRING. Snow can get get real deep. Keeps the cardio up when you have to trudge through waist deep snow. I still curse my ancestors for settling there. I digress, back to the running. I am from the eastern and “civilized” part of the state, the eastern side. It's flatter than bread on Passover except for the occasional dike or overpass. The west is my worst night mare. It about as flat at The Situation’s abs. I can run hills like Shamoo goes on diets. It is a train wreck. The course in particular that comes to mind, is the Tom O'Leary Golf Course in Bismarck. I can hear the Bismarck-ians giggling from here. Laugh it up. The very thought of running that course again makes me want to rock in the bath tub. The typical setup for the state meet is 40° and 35mph wind. Perfect conditions if you ask me. 

By the time cross country is all wrapped up, snow is soon to follow. But we still must run year round. Winter of '04, my hometown of Grand Forks set an all-time record low of -44°. That the heck is that!? Uffda! Winter just plain sucks, but the door we go—mummy is the motto. Nothing exposed except tiny slits for eyes, and the shuffle begins. On the upside, when you slip and fall, you rarely get hurt because you're dressed for attack dog training. It also opens up new trails to run on the river! It is an interesting experience, just make sure to watch out for the snowmobilers. Hey, have to stay in shape so hockey or that b-word sport that shall remain nameless. 

But spring time always comes, usually just in time for state track. For the foreseeable future, state track will be in the Community Bowl in Bismarck. A picturesque stadium located in the bluffs looking across the Missouri River. This is the training grounds of the Bismarck High School Demons, ranked #25 in the country. 

These guys were the formidable maroon beast when I was running at Grand Forks Central. I do have to say my good old Knights had a good team in my years at Central, but we were not as deep as Coach Alan would have liked. One faltered and we would be in rough shape. Those dang Demons were one of the consistently deepest teams I have ever seen. Shoot, they really lived up to the name of their mascots. What the heck is Coach Anderson and Zittleman putting in the water over there!? 

Zittleman, a former NAIA Cross Country Coach of the Year and Anderson, a bazzillion-time State Coach of the Year recipient have been doing something right! The coaches have set up one of the most extensive websites for past and present results, training materials, links to other websites, and other materials for their student-athletes I have ever seen. They also publish the Demon Digest, a weekly newsletter recapping the past weeks results, upcoming competitions, motivational quotes, and more. This is part of how to Anderson and Zittleman have built this North Dakota cross country dynasty. The coaches emphasize being an athlete of the sport, team work, and, of course, hard work!

Currently chasing their 7th straight state title, they will be a formidable foe this year to the other teams in Class A once again. In the first three meets of the year, they have won all with an impressive 20pts, 19pts, and a perfect 15. The BHS Demons may be even deeper than last year, with all top five runners from last years' State team returning. The next star in the BHS Empire following the graduation of Joash Osoro is reigning champion and 9:04 2miler Jake Leingang. Already making a splash this cross season with a 14:51 3M last week, he is the clear favorite to extend his reign and continue his winning ways into post season competition. Austin Todd, Lane Kashur, and Brandon Berg are also worth mentioning, because these gents have been consistently kicking butt in the top 5 and working together. With Leingang leading the team, the booty-kicking returners, and a whole smorgasbord of talent to behind them, the Demons Dynasty is sure to dominate ND cross country scene this fall yet again.

Up this weekend is the Anderson/Stavn Invite at home in Bismarck. It should be a spicy meet—their first meet with competition from the East. Usually in Minot, it was moved to Bismarck due too the golf course flooded. The invite will be a tune up for Griak the weekend after, where they won in 2008 and were 2nd in '09. After a disappointing 10th last year, they are looking to once again be on top of the podium. Coach Zittleman and Coach Anderson are sure to be proud of their team once the season is done. Ya you betcha!

By RonJon