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Tom Mix, Published October 24 2012

Burros hope to run to a repeat

HILLSBORO, N.D. – A new season has meant fewer introductions and reduced cross country running 101 lessons for the Hillsboro-Central Valley girls program.

A year ago, the Burros stormed onto the state cross country scene, winning the Class B team title in their first season of fielding a full squad.

This fall, there have still been a few rookie runners learning the ropes, but nothing like the program-building effort head coach Kirk Zink executed in 2011.

“The girls have run well this year,” Zink said. “The dynamic is totally different. Last year, the kids were all brand new and they were all inexperienced.

“We had to work on everything from where to put the sticker on your jersey to how to pace your start.”

The Hillsboro-Central Valley girls team has spent the entire season ranked No. 1 in the Class B coaches poll and returned all of its top five runners from last season.

This Saturday, the Burros will defend their title at Heart River Golf Course in Dickinson, N.D., during the state meet. The Class B girls race begins at 1:45 p.m. CDT.

The Burros have also managed to create some depth within their program this fall.

Zink said there are 27 total runners between the boys and girls teams he coaches – 14 girls and 13 boys. The spike in numbers has meant more lineup options for Zink and fewer chances of getting exposed at meets.

“We are a substantially better team than we were last year,” Zink said. “Last year, we had five really good girls, but we had no depth and it just about did us in at the state meet.”

The top five runners from each team score at the state meet, but Zink said he has six girls that have the ability to finish in the top 20.

The Burros’ top six consists of junior Miriah Fossum and Tatiana Berge; sophomores Brooklyn Zink, Annika Rotvold and Shayla Fossum and seventh grader Gracie Wright.

Shayla Fossum, who finished fourth at state last year, turned in a time of 15 minutes, 53 seconds, finishing third at last Saturday’s East Region meet in Cooperstown. She has been consistently ranked in the individual top 10 all season.

Rotvold raced to eighth place at the regional meet with a time of 16:13.

“Annika has been one of our more consistent runners this year,” Zink said.

Wright and Berge finished 13th and 18th, respectively.

Brooklyn Zink is a multiple-time all-state runner and is coming off a tough East Region race in which she finished outside the top 20.

“My muscles felt tired and I just didn’t feel ready to go at the line,” said Brooklyn Zink who is ranked No. 7 overall in the latest individual poll. “I have been doing more sprint workouts in practice. I have put some good miles in and I’m just getting ready to go.”

The Burros won the East Region team title scoring 63 points. No. 2-ranked Rugby finished second with 105 points.

Kirk Zink said the first-place finish was positive, but said his team will have to run better at state if it hopes to repeat as champions. No. 3-ranked Bismarck Shiloh appears to be the most equipped team to test the Burros in Dickinson.

“If we run like we ran at regionals, we will get beat,” Kink Zink said. “Shiloh Christian is a lot like us. They have five or six girls that run well. They are going to put up solid scores at the state meet and we will have to do the same.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562