When senior Sean Krill began his prep running career in middle school, Minot High coach Aaron Klingbeil heard doubts about the newcomer's potential.
" 'He'll never be real fast, but he'll work hard for you,' " Klingbeil recalls hearing. "I can't even tell you the half of how far a kid has to come like he did."
Krill finished 10th overall to lead the Magicians to a third-place finish in the West Region cross country meet Saturday at Souris Valley Golf Course.
Minot High School senior Sean Krill races to a 10th-place finish to lead the Magicians at the West Region cross country meet Saturday at Souris Valley Golf Course.
Bismarck High continued its dominant season, placing five runners in the top six to finish with a score of 19 followed by Century at 67. BHS senior Matt Gotta beat Dickinson junior Jackson Binstock by 20 seconds to finish the 5K (3.1 miles) in 16 minutes, 9 seconds.
Krill wasted no time separating himself from the team to take the lead in senior Andrew Beach's absence. Beach was recovering from an infection in his finger and will run at the state meet in two weeks. Krill held onto fifth place for much of the first mile and powered up the course's most difficult hill to sneak into third about six minutes in.
He fell slightly off the lead pack's pace through the remainder, but turned in a gutsy performance at 17:17 through wind gusts of about 30 mph. The time was nearly two minutes faster than his previous time at the Magicians' home course on Aug. 30.
"I had a good race today," Krill said. "Started off really strong and just grinded it out 'til the end. ... I started off in the beginning of the season doing all right, but then I was able to get a little better over the season."
Klingbeil was ecstatic and called Krill's performance "fantastic."
"He and his twin brother, Jordan, both are extremely diligent in everything they do," Klingbeil said. "If I ask them to run one mile, they'll ask how fast. As for today, Sean was excited for the race and put (everything) into it."
The Magicians finished with 163 points, 21 ahead of fourth-place Williston. Senior Billy Sartwell was the second Magician to finish and took 25th overall in 17:59. Senior Dylan Ellis finished 32nd and was the third Magician across the line. Ellis was one second ahead of freshman teammate Thor Nelson, who ran 18:14.
"Nelson, a month ago, would've been an outside chance of going on our state team and today he takes fourth as a freshman," Klingbeil said. "When we needed a guy to step up and have a good race, this was his day to do it."
Jordan Krill was the fifth Magician with a time of 18:30.
On the girls side, eighth-grader Emily Nelson continued her strong season as the top Magician, taking eighth overall in the 4K (2.48 miles) with a time of 15:50. Century junior Jordan Jacob ran 14:12 and won the race by 22 seconds. The Patriots won the meet with 37 points followed by BHS at 60 and Dickinson with 74. MHS was fifth with 141, 10 points behind Mandan.
Nelson said a top-10 finish was a goal at the beginning of the season.
"I just tried to pace myself with the people in the front and not go too fast," she said, "and at the hill, I sprinted at the bottom and that helped."
MHS freshman Liz Rohrer was the next Majette in at 22nd in 16:26. Classmatte Cambree Albright was third on the team and 32nd overall at 16:52.
The state meet is Oct. 26 in Valley City.
Tim Chapman covers Minot High School athletics. Follow him on Twitter @chapmatp.