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Published October 28 2010

Hotzler: Winning attitude abundant at Davies

Lisa Svaleson figures it was the fourth day of practice when she realized her Fargo Davies girls cross country team had the talent and drive to make history.

From Day 1, Svaleson knew the team had a good cornerstone leader in defending Class A individual champion Tarin Lachowitzer. A junior this season, Lachowitzer came over in the split of Fargo South and Davies.

But it wasn’t until Svaleson witnessed the attitude of some of the Eagles’ younger runners that she was sold on the fact that Davies could capture a state team title.

“The first day I knew we had some talent,” she said. “On the fourth day, I realized how dedicated they were. I think there were definitely a lot of young ladies on our team that thought they could accomplish a first for our school.”

And they did, becoming the first Davies team to earn a state crown last Saturday in Jamestown.

Interestingly, the Davies school building has yet to open. So the Eagles girls cross country runners began the first chapter of their school’s winning tradition scattered in different directions.

The upperclassmen are housed at Fargo South, the freshmen are at South Campus II and the youngsters at Discovery Middle School.

“It might be one of the only times in the country a team has won without actually having a school,” Svaleson joked.

Lachowitzer this season earned her second consecutive individual title.

Seventh-grader Katie Bye finished fifth, sophomore Carly Bertsch was 17th, seventh-grader McKenna Vetter was 22nd and junior Kelsey Zastoupil was 25th.

That scoring combination helped the Eagles finish with 70 points, and sneak ahead of Bismarck (72) for the title.

Svaleson, who was head coach at South for six seasons, said she transferred over many of the old Bruins traditions.

However, she said it was important to put a twist on everything she implemented this year to create a separate identity for Davies.

“It was very important to us to build a new tradition,” Svaleson said. “A lot of the girls knew my expectations as a coach. They were excited for that, ready for that. They have taken that work ethic and built a new legacy.”

Perhaps the shining example of Davies’ success this year is Bertsch, a first-time cross country runner who mostly participated in soccer the last several years.

Bertsch became a team leader despite her lack of experience because she was willing to work hard every day to improve, Svaleson said.

And she wasn’t the only new runner to have a breakout season.

That fact has Svaleson thinking the Eagles could be a championship contender for years to come.

Only next time, there will be actual rafters from which to hang the championship banners. Davies High is set to open next year.

“One of my proudest moments is when I catch them all talking, when they don’t know I’m listening, and they are setting up times to run together in the summer and talking about how they want to challenge themselves to be better” Svaleson said. “I definitely think this is a nice beginning to a winning tradition at Davies High.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562 or hotzler@forumcomm.com. Hotzler’s blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com