Jon Dale hopes Kylie Beltz is a follower and a trailblazer at the same time.
Beltz, a freshman, qualified for her first Class 1A state cross country meet by finishing second in the Section 7-1A meet Oct. 25 at Cloquet.
She became the first Pequot girl in school history to qualify for the state meet.
"The whole day and the next day I felt great," said Beltz. "It was just unbelievable. I kept thinking, 'I'm going to state.'
"I tried to run as hard as I could. I knew the Esko girl (Kaycee Knutsen) was running in the 15 minutes and I hadn't broken that yet. I knew she would be up there. I just went in thinking I had to run as hard as I could."
Like Beltz, Foster qualified for his first state meet as a freshman and has qualified every year since. This year he helped the Pequot boys' team advance to their first state meet.
Beltz hopes she'll have the same effect on the girls' program.
"Making it to state has been really cool," said Beltz. "Hopefully this will help get people interested in cross country. It's not a sport you hear about or one you can really go watch easily. Hopefully this will get more girls out because it would be really cool to have a team make it to state, too."
For now Beltz is focused on her individual race. Her time of 16:06 at the section meet was a season best and she's hoping to improve on that. She's also hoping to one-up Foster.
"My goal is to place 52nd or lower," said Beltz. "Mr. Dale told me Clayton finished 53rd in his first state meet so I have to beat that."
School: Pequot Lakes
Sport: Cross country
Other sports: Basketball, track and field
Key stat: Finished second in the Section 7-1A meet with a time of 16:06
Dale believes she can do it.
"Last year she was our No. 1 runner and has been on varsity since seventh grade," the coach said. "Her goal was to make it to the state tournament and be one of the top 10 girls in the section. She has out done that. Her goal for state is to finish in the top 50. She sets realistic goals."
Beltz is no stranger to success. She qualified for the 1A state track and field meet last year. She won the Birch Tree Conference meet Oct. 9 in 16:12. Beltz won four other invites and was second in the Ranger Invite with a 16:24 time.
"Hopefully a girl like Kylie, who is a really good kid, can help the program," said Dale. "I hope she can follow Clayton. They both made it to state as freshmen and now Clayton (a junior) brought the whole boys' team with him. I think Kylie is that type of girl where she can do the same thing. She's a great leader."
Other notable performances:
Cross country: Naomi Landecker, Staples-Motley, won the Section 8-1A title in 14:15.13 to help the Cardinals advance to state.
Swimming: Molly Binger, Little Falls, won the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 freestyle and was part of two winning relays against Litchfield.
Volleyball: Brigetta Berg, Wadena-Deer Creek, had 19 digs, 13 kills and two blocks against Frazee.
Courtney Volkmann, W-DC, finished with 26 set assists, seven ace serves, five kills and five digs against Frazee.
Taylor Sheley, Pine River-Backus, had 12 digs, 11 kills, three blocks and two ace serves against Sebeka and 18 digs, 10 kills, two ace serves and a block against Nevis.
Katie Kimman, Pierz, had 20 kills, 10 digs, , six blocks and three ace serves against Long Prairie-Grey Eagle.
Gabrielle Boser, Pierz, had 18 set assists, 11 digs, five ace serves, three kills and a block against LP-GE.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.
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