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Tom Mix, Published October 23 2013

Davies top-ranked runner at home in the outdoors

Fargo - Fargo Davies senior Branden Scheel gets serious about two activities in the fall: running and hunting.

The license plates on the Honda Pilot he drives read ‘RUNNHNT’ – leaving no doubt about how much Scheel enjoys both pastimes.

Scheel hunts just about everything and has been on several pheasant, duck, and goose outings already this fall.

“I’m a big outdoorsman,” Scheel said. “With my dad working at Scheels and my family’s history, it is inherited. We absolutely love being in the outdoors.”

Scheel also puts in plenty of miles running this time of year and is always working toward the final race of the season.

Saturday’s North Dakota state cross country meet at Valley City’s Bjornson Park Golf Course marks Scheel’s final race as a high school runner. The Class A boys 5K race begins at noon.

“It’s my senior year, and I can’t hold anything back,” said Scheel, who enters the state meet ranked No. 2.

Scheel, who has not lost to a North Dakota opponent all season, won his second East Region championship Oct. 12, finishing the five-kilometer course in 16 minutes, 18 seconds.

“Ever since we had him as an eighth-grader, he has the desire to do well,” Fargo Davies boys head coach Jason Holland said.

Scheel recently visited North Dakota State and the University of North Dakota, but has not decided on where he will run collegiately. He also plans to visit the University of Nebraska, but would likely have to be a walk-on for the Huskers.

Scheel’s running career began with little distinction. In fact, running was a penalty Scheel had to serve for disobeying his parents.

The at-times energetic Scheel needed an outlet, and running a couple times around the block did the trick.

“After a while I started to enjoy running and started going on runs on my own,” Scheel said. “A few of the guys on the cross country team saw me and said, ‘Hey, quit football and get over here.’”

Scheel played football and ran cross country as an eighth-grader. Davies’ program competed as a junior varsity squad that fall. By the end of the season, Scheel was summoned to run on Fargo South’s varsity at the state meet. He checked in 55th overall and scored for the Bruins.

“I really fell in love with it, and there was no going back,” Scheel said.

Since then, Scheel has become a regular on the sidewalks and running paths of south Fargo. He has logged hundreds miles all in the pursuit of improvement.

“He is an athlete, and what is pretty cool about Branden is he has had a lot of success running cross country, but that isn’t the thing that defines him,” Holland said. “His work ethic and discipline are the big things he is about. Some of the younger guys on the team have seen that, and we have had some team success because of them trying to emulate Branden.”

Scheel finished third at state a year ago behind Bismarck’s Jake Leingang and Fargo Shanley-Oak Grove’s Seb Startz. Scheel’s time at that meet (16:05.39) is his personal record.

Earlier this season, Scheel got a good look at the state meet course by winning the Valley City Invite with a time of 16:11.

Scheel said he won’t tinker much with his racing strategy Saturday.

“I think it is always important to run your race at state,” Scheel said. “There are always those guys who want to get the pictures and get on television by sprinting out in the first half. The second half is going to be an amazing race, and I have to be sure not to waste all my energy in the first half.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562