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Low scores just part of the fun for Bruins

The parameters -- four golf clubs, four runners, two golf balls and a race to the flag. Fargo South boys cross country coach Rod Hardie calls it speed golf. Whichever team gets its ball in the cup first wins the hole. "We usually do some differen...

The parameters -- four golf clubs, four runners, two golf balls and a race to the flag.

Fargo South boys cross country coach Rod Hardie calls it speed golf.

Whichever team gets its ball in the cup first wins the hole.

"We usually do some different stuff like that before the school year starts," Hardie said.

The drill serves two purposes -- building team chemistry and breaking the monotony of practice.

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It's one of many team building exercises that have made South a success.

"It's a lot of fun because you are looking out for everyone," South junior Grant Mehring said. "You get to know people well through those type of things."

That togetherness, coupled with talent and hard work, has made the Bruins the favorite in Class A, entering Saturday's North Dakota state boys cross country meet in Dickinson.

Defending champion South is ranked No. 1 in the Class A coaches' poll and also has been ranked nationally throughout the season.

The Bruins are ranked No. 14 in the most recent Nike/Footlocker Super 25.

"We are probably as deep as we've ever been," said Hardie, in his 13th season at South.

Recent performance backs up that statement.

At the six-team Grand/Cass meet last week at Rose Creek Golf Course, a tune-up for state, the Bruins had the top six finishers and scored a perfect 15.

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At the Eastern Dakota Conference meet two Saturdays ago in Wahpeton, South placed nine runners in the top 20.

"I enjoy watching them run," said Grand Forks Central coach Sean Allan. "It's always fun to see a team run that well. They have a lot of class when they do it. They act with pride, but they have a lot of class. It's a lot easier to cheer for guys like that."

Runners like Mehring and seniors Bill Anderson and Jared Kamrowski -- who often place in the top 20 -- usually don't count toward South's team score.

"They're overshadowed definitely," Hardie said.

That's because the top five -- Severyn Claymore, Chad Backsen, Joe Sepe, Robert Ihry and Julian Lovelace, all seniors -- are routinely top-10 finishers.

Claymore is ranked No. 2 in Class A, Backsen, No. 4, Sepe, No. 5, and Ihry, No. 6.

"I don't have a problem with it. It just pushes more people back from the other teams," Mehring said.

"Place doesn't matter to us," Kamrowski added. "You work with each other. It doesn't matter where you place. It's can you help your teammates."

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The runners say Hardie, named Eastern Dakota Conference coach of the year this fall, has played a key role in molding this team and its attitude.

"Huge," Kamrowski said.

"Tremendous," Backsen added. "It's not just about being a good runner; it's about being a good role model. To him, it's more than just running."

Around 80 athletes played in South's speed golf outing this fall at Ponderosa Golf Course.

Hardie said it took an hour and a half for the entire group to finish anywhere from nine to 13 holes.

"They really like us coming out there," Hardie said. "They thought it was like the neatest thing in the world."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513

Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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