New Rockford-Sheyenne's Kelsie Belquist is taking North Dakota by storm as a freshman

Jack Williams
Devils Lake Journal
New Rockford-Sheyenne freshman Kelsie Belquist has set a handful of personal records and broken meet records this season. This is her third year competing at the varsity level.

Track them down. Push. Run it through. 

In almost all of her events, those three thoughts are on repeat in New Rockford-Sheyenne freshman Kelsie Belquist's head. There's a strong sense of focus when she takes the track, along with nerves right behind her pushing her to the finish. It all happens so fast, but in the end, the satisfaction of seeing her time makes the rush of emotional all worth it. 

"The feeling of being done running and seeing that time keeps bringing me back," Belquist said. "You just feel great after you run it." 

It's not really about breaking records or winning records for Belquist, as she aims to beat her own personal goals or find ways to improve her performance after an event. However, while she may be zoned in on finishing and improving her own craft, Belquist has caught the attention the North Dakota Class B scene from day one of the 2021 season. 

Every meet, it seems that Belquist is either breaking a personal record of her's, breaking a meet record in a event or doing both. She opened up the season at the CNDC Indoor Meet on April 1 breaking a 28-year record in the 400M event. Since the beginning of April, Belquist has continued to project upward in all six events she competes in, now qualifying from state in those six events (300M hurdles, 100M, 200M, 400M, long jump and triple jump). 

Labeled the "New Rockford girl" by a group of runners from one of the 31 schools at the Mariya Tate Memorial on May 1 at Rugby High School, Belquist would break two meet records, set four personal records and win three out of the four events she competed in on the day. 

"She's had an excellent performance today," Rockets head coach Cherry Heinz said. "We usually have her jump in at least one field event, but since there was a lot of good runners here today, we would see how she did with the competition. She did really well today and we're happy." 

Not only did Belquist pull ahead in the majority of her races, but she won a few by a sizable margin. in the 300M hurdles, she would beat our L/E/M's Lexis Olson, who had already qualified for state in the event as well, by three seconds. She would follow that with an electric performance in the 400M, where she would not just finish ahead of second place by three seconds, but would finish the event in under a minute at 59.53 seconds. 

When it comes to her motivation, Belqusit said that she works off the drive to want to get better and those around her who have helped her. Her father Elliott Belquist, who is also the athletic director, football, girls basketball, and baseball coach at New Rockford-Sheyenne, runs a speed and acceleration facility, focused not on a running pace, but the peak speed. 

At the facility, Belquist has continued to set bests as well, being the first girl to break 18 mph. Having that resource in her clutch has been huge in keeping her performance climbing, especially when the 2020 season came to a hault after three weeks due to the then new threat of Coronavirus. 

"During that time I was mainly doing speed," Belquist said. "We did that three days a week of that in the summer. I did a lot of that and lifting. It's nice to have the speed and acceleration training because all you do is run at high speeds. It's not about getting your stamina, it's about being faster." 

While Belquist has done speed and acceration training in the off-season, during the track and field season, she has been able to get one on one work from her coaches, something that benefits a small program according to Belquist. In Saturday's meet, Belquist and Rockets found their competitive edge, despite being one of the smaller teams there compared to schools like Rugby, Beulah or Central Cass. 

Devils Lake softball fell to Dickinson 34-0 on May 1 at Devils Lake High School. Langdon/Edmore/Munich, New Rockford-Sheyenne, Nelson County and North Star track teams competed at the Mariya Tate Memorial invite on May 1 at Rugby High School.

"We get a lot of one on one time with our coaches, which I think really helps," Belquist said. "You get to see what you need to work on a lot more than being in a big group. I think we just like to compete against bigger areas as well. It helps us a lot."

On the coaching end, Heinz has worked with the sprinting coach and a volunteer jumping coach in order to elevate Belquist's all around performance. Heinz has focused in on Belquist's performance in the 300M hurdle event, which Belquist said is one that she enjoys and is looking to continue to improve on. 

That might include mixing things up meet to meet. Last week at the Lloyd Memorial Invite, Belquist ran her events but also competed in the long jump, recording a personal best distance in the event to qualify for state at 17' 4". Saturday, not doing a jumping event, she finish with four personal records. Heniz said since Belquist has been able to try a lot of things early on that they might shake things up again at the Oakes Open on Monday. 

"It really has been a group effort," Heinz said. "I think that everybody wants to contribute and is open to working with each other to collaborate. I hope we can continue to help her the best we can." 

From the coaches perspective, Heinz said that there are a handful of elements that have allowed Belquist to find success in her career. In addition to offering a lot of balance and strength to her physical performance, Heinz said that Belquist's competitive drive has been complimented by a will to work hard and a positive attitude. 

In addition to all the track work Belquist has done, she's also a three sport athlete like a lot of her teammates, playing volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter and track in the spring. When asked if track was her favorite sport Belquist chuckled and said that while it's not her favorite sport, because there's some dread that comes along with getting back into running, she does enjoy it when she gets back into it. 

With four more meets until the North Central Region meet, which will be held at Rugby, Belquist is focused more on the little things in continuing to chase her personal bests. She's aiming for a stronger finish in the 400M and the 300M hurdles. In addition, she wants to meet the state record for the 300M hurdles event, which she is 1.31 seconds off of following her finish on Saturday. 

It's hard to belive that Belquist is only a freshman, seeing her beat those heading off to college next year. Still having three years left in the program, she isn't too focused on any goal in specific. However, what she does know about her future is she wants to continue to track them, push her self to beat them and run even further. 

"I haven't really thought that far ahead to my senior year," Belquist said. "All I know is that every year I just want to beat the year before and beat the people who have gotten better." 

Jack Williams covers lake region sports and general news for the Devils Lake Journal. Contact him via email at JGWilliams1@gannett.com, or on Twitter @jackgwilliams, or phone at 701-662-2127.