The Williston Coyotes cross country team will be competing for a state championship this Saturday in Jamestown. Fifth year Williston head coach Shane Wahlstrom says the boys varsity team will not be content with merely participating; instead, the goal is to establish themselves as the best cross country team in the state of North Dakota.
“It will be a tough task for sure, but it’s not unattainable,” Wahlstrom says. “I think we have three guys who could potentially finish in first place, so we are definitely a strong contender in the field.”
Despite the very real possibility of the Coyotes coming away with the state title over the weekend, Wahlstrom reveals this has been the most challenging season of his Williston coaching career. Starting in mid-September, Wahlstrom says the injury bug hit his team particularly hard. During that time, as many as seven varsity runners suffered from a variety of ailments, forcing the coach to juggle his lineup far more than he would like. “It was an unbelievably injury-riddled season for us, and it was very hard to piece everything back together,” Wahlstrom says. “But now, I think the team is feeling better, and it’s a testament to how hard everyone has worked to get back to full health.”
Williston’s top-flight boys team includes junior Micade Shumway and sophomore Gunnar Alvarado, two runners who are both ranked within the top seven in the statewide coaches poll. In addition to those elite performers, the Coyotes also feature an extremely competitive group of girls as well.
That group includes potential all-state runners Eleni Lovgren, a freshman who is currently ranked fifth in the state, and Ava Marburger, who was recently selected as the Williston Herald Athlete of the Week. Wahlstrom credits assistant coach Chase Gregory for helping the girls cross country team to reach its full potential. “The girls have been healthy and have been improving dramatically this season. Chase has done such a tremendous job getting the girls ready to perform at their best at every meet,” Wahlstrom adds.
Not only does Wahlstrom have excellent student-athletes and assistant coaches to work with, but he was recently recognized by the North Dakota High School Coaches Association as a co-recipient for Coach of the Year. His first time winning such an award, Wahlstrom believes the honor is simply a byproduct of Williston’s overall success as a program. “It’s really a team award, because I wouldn’t have won anything without our guys running well,” the cross country mentor says. “I sure didn’t expect to win it, but it is very humbling to be recognized by your coaching peers.”