Bowman County left Cooperstown with some extra hardware Saturday and delivered it back to downtown Bowman with a police, sheriff and fire escort – complete with flashing lights and sirens just before midnight.
The boys cross country team won the state Class B championship, while the girls’ team finished third in the Class B competition at Cooperstown Country Club hours earlier.
Running in freezing weather, senior Brian Miller closed out his last cross country competition by winning the individual title and helping lead his pack of Bulldogs to the team championship.
The senior edged Stanley’s Noah Rolfe by just over a second at the finish of the 5,000-meter race – 16:14.7 to 16:15.9.
It marked the first time that Miller had beaten Rolfe to the finish line this year, while another rival, Ian Busche of Beulah-Hazen placed third.
The Bulldogs made it a dominating performance, putting four runners in the first 12 finishers. The fifth and final scoring runner placed 25th overall as the Bulldogs finished with a team score of 56 points.
Hillsboro/Central Valley was second with 101 points, followed by Griggs-Midkota (134), Stanley (176) and Kindred (188). Rival Killdeer was sixth with 225 points, followed by Grafton (238), Beulah-Hazen (302), May-Port CG (400) and Southern McLean rounded out the top ten teams with 417 points.
In addition, the girls squad returned home with a third place trophy, finishing behind Rugby (80 points) and Hillsboro/Central Valley (134). The Bulldogs had 155 points to finish ahead of Kindred (224), Grafton (235), May-Port CG (287), Sargent (300), Killdeer (318), Hatton-Northwood-Larimer (343) and Carrington (354) to round out the top ten teams. Jaci Fischer was the top Bowman girl to finish the race, placing 11 th with a time of 20:18.1 for the 5-kilometer course on the Cooperstown Golf Course.
Coach of the Year
But the team also added another trophy to their haul when Jonathon Jahner was named the 2020 NDHSCA Class B Boys Cross country Coach of the year.
“We make lots of plans throughout the season, but this year was just so different with all the change that happened. You are not used to juggling those things mid-season,” he said after helping the team, students and family celebrate the arrival back at the school late Saturday night.
“This week, it was switched out of Jamestown over to Cooperstown,” he said. That meant the Bulldogs would be running a course they had never seen before Saturday.
“We looked at the course map and we’re talking to the kids about race strategy. The thing I am the most proud of with those kids is we hammered race strategy and that we had to get out faster than we’ve ever gotten out,” he recalled.
“There is a pretty nasty corner early in the race and if you didn’t make it to that corner first, you were going to get hung up,” the coach said. “Our boys and girls both....,” he said, pausing. “Every one of our boys were probably in the top 20 when they hit that corner. They executed the game plan to absolute perfection. That was just so cool.
“The girls as well. They got out hard and Jaci led the race at the corner,” he said. “And that propelled her to that 11th place finish. If she had gotten stuck in the middle of the pack, there is no way she would have got there.
“The execution of both of our groups is one of the things I am most proud of,” the coach said. “Especially, when they have never seen the course before. The kids just bought in and executed the game plan. It was very cool.
“It was a tight course and there is not a lot of space there. It is a lot of turning. The kids did a phenomenal job. It was a tight course with 270 runners on it.
“It was a great day and the kids ran hard,” the coach said.