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Oak Grove junior off to fast start after moving to Fargo last summer

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Fargo Oak Grove junior Ashley Perez has qualified for state and has been breaking personal-best times in the 1,600 meters this year. David Samson / The Forum

Fargo  - Fargo Oak Grove junior Ashley Perez is quickly making a name for herself on the local prep track and field scene this spring.
Perez moved to Fargo last June after her mother, Jodee Aubol, was transferred as a member of the North Dakota National Guard. Through one month of the season, Perez has flourished with her new squad and is qualified for state in three events – the North Dakota Class B girls 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters.
In the process of qualifying, Perez also broke two Oak Grove school records in the 1,600 and 3,200.
“It has been my determination,” said Perez, who ran track for Nelson County – a co-op between Dakota Prairie and Lakota – the previous four seasons. “I had a bad season last year so I’m trying to make up for that this spring. The weight is off my shoulders in regards to fact that I’m qualified, but the pressure is going to be on until state.”
Perez, who also runs cross country for Fargo Shanley-Oak Grove in the fall, broke the Grovers’ 1,600 record her first time running the event this season. Since then, Perez has bested her own mark, racing to a time of five minutes, 15.98 seconds at the TK relays last Thursday.
A day later at the Shanley Invitational, Perez improved her 3,200 school record, turning in a time of 11:50.60 in what she said is her favorite event. Her fastest time in the 800 is 2:24.54.
“Ashley is a very hard worker,” Fargo Oak Grove co-head track and field head coach Janice Stoa said. “As soon as she got done with the cross country, she was setting goals for track. I think she has surprised herself by what she has been able to accomplish at this point in the season.”
Perez took fifth in the Class A girls cross country race last fall and as a freshman at Dakota Prairie she won a Class B individual state championship.
As of today, Perez’s 1,600 time is the fastest Class B girls performance recorded in the state, but strong competition – especially within the Southeast Region that Oak Grove competes in – awaits her in the postseason.
Milnor-Wyndmere-Lidgerwood’s Peyton frolek and Hillsboro-Central Valley’s Annika Rotvold have all qualified for the same events as Perez.
“Peyton and Annika are both great runners,” Perez said. “I like running with them because they push me harder and motivate me.”
Perez said she is hopeful to cut her 1,600 time down to 5:10 and her 3,200 under 11 minutes.
“I need to continue to train as hard as I have been so far and mentally be focused on my races,” Perez said. “I need to go into each race confident knowing I can succeed.”
Oak Grove’s Dixon breaks her own school record in pole vault
Another Oak Grove track and field standout has broken a school record this spring.
Junior Brittany Dixon broke her own school record in the pole vault clearing 10-feet, 9 inches at the Pelican Rapids Invitational on April 16.
The previous record was 10-6 – a mark she cleared at the state meet her freshman year finishing in second place.
“I feel like I have improved and I think I can go higher than 10-9,” said Dixon, who won the Class B girls pole vaulting championship last year. “I can definitely relax and feel comfort in the fact that I have qualified for state. Now I can just focus on the technique more and fix the little things that normally I would be working on towards the end of the season. I have the whole season to work up to that.”
Dixon said she hopes to break her own record again this season.
“I’m hoping to break 11 feet and maybe hit 11-3 or 11-6 this season,” Dixon said.
Dixon competes in the Team NoDak pole vaulting league through North Dakota State and also has attended pole vaulting camps at NDSU.

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