After taking an early lead in the girls 4K varsity race at the Bill Jansen Invitational this weekend, Langdon Area High School junior Kennedy Rude was only leery of one thing — the end.
"I got kind of nervous because I've been out-sprinted at the end before," Rude, the No. 2 ranked Class B runner in the state, said. "Today, I wasn't going to let that happen."
Instead, she maintained her pace and her lead all the way to the end of the race at Bjornson Park Golf Course, finishing in 16:03, two seconds ahead of her closest competitor.
The meet, hosted by Valley City High School, took place Saturday with nearly 400 total runners and 26 teams competing at the junior high, junior varsity and varsity levels.
Grand Forks Central won the team championship in the girls race with 53 points. All five of Central's scoring runners placed the top-20. Valley City took fourth in the team standings and BCN took 11th.
Grand Forks Red River won the boys title with 41 points, placing all five scoring runners in the top-15. Valley City finished 14th in team standings in the race and Bismarck Century's Cataldo DiDonna won the 5K's individual title in a time of 16:41.
DiDonna, a senior, was no stranger to the course at Bjornson, having raced it numerous times throughout his high school career.
DiDonna said he was discouraged by a slow first mile, but then pushed his way to the front of the pack.
"I made a surge and figured I'd try and still get a fast time even though the first mile was a little slow," he said.
By the time he crossed the finish line, he was 14 seconds ahead of his closest competition.
Local runners also had plenty of success at the meet, including Barnes County North eighth grader Tess Scott. Scott finished the girls varsity race in 16:18, placing fifth.
Scott said the race was back and forth at times with runners jockeying for position.
"I was in second for a little bit, but then closer to the end I got passed by a couple of people," she said.
Valley City had a strong showing in the girls race from April Berntson, who took 13th with a time of 16:52. Barbara Zubrod narrowly missed the top-25, finishing in 17:21 and taking 28th place.
Bill Jansen Invite results
5K Varsity Boys
1. Cataldo DiDonna, Bis. Cent., 16:41
2. Matt Tingum, GFRR, 16:55
3. Adam Leach, GFRR, 17:03
4. Thomas Startz, Shan, 17:05
5. Sebeastian Startz, Shan, 17:05
6. Andrew Torrey, GFC, 17:07
7. Camrom Roehl, GFC, 17:18
8. Ryan Fetch, Bis. Cent., 17:29
9. Jacab Gallagher, Lis, 17:32
10. Tanner Piper, GFRR, 17:32
46. Casey Engelhard, VC, 19:31
70. Justin Pritchett, VC, 21:04
82. Nathan Johnson, VC, 22:01
4K Varsity Girls
1. Kennedy Rude, Lang, 16:03
2. HEidi Lageson, Shan., 16:05
3. Ashley Perez, Dak. Prairie, 16:07
4. Karly Ackley, GFC, 16:07
5. Tess Scott, BCN, 16:18
6. Madison Gapp, Lang, 16:23
7. Jessica Johnson, Graf, 16:31
8. Leah Oien, Griggs, 16:38
9. Jordyn Thomas, GFC, 16:43
10. Ann Endres, Car., 16:44
13. April Berntson, 16:52
28. Barbara Zubrod, 17:21
38. Jamie Ronning, 17:52
59. Jessica Ronning, 18:48
70. Ruth Ihry, 19:17
77. Mikaylah Ross, 19:29
97. Aislinn Fogarty, 21:13