Devils Lake sending six athletes to state track meet this weekend

Sam Herder
Six athletes are representing Devils Lake at the state track meet this weekend in Bismarck. Front row (left to right): Ramsey Brown, Amber Gathman and Beth Alexander. Back row (left to right): Erin Nelson, Zach Dahlen and Bradley Davidson.

By Sam Herder

Journal Sports Editor

A total of 13 events at the North Dakota State Track and Field Meet will feature a Devils Lake athlete competing. Six Firebirds qualified for events at the meet this Friday and Saturday at the Bismarck Community Bowl.

Ramsey Brown is running the 1600-meter. Beth Alexander is in the high jump, triple jump, 300-meter hurdles and 200-meter dash. Amber Gathman is competing in the discus. Erin Nelson is in the discus, shot put and javelin.

Zach Dahlen is in the triple jump. Bradley Davidson will be running the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter dashes.

“This year having six kids to qualify individually, and then with them qualifying in multiple events, is great for us,” Firebirds head coach Jake Wateland said. “A lot of times, teams will have that number or more, but that’s with relays. So that’s a solid number for us. They all deserve it and have worked their butts off. To qualify for the state meet, you have to be talented, but at the same time, you need that work ethic to get there.”

Ramsey Brown

Just a seventh grader, Brown qualified in the 1600-meter run at the Bob Zimney Last Chance Meet on May 16. Her top time is 05:26.29, but she said she wants to set another personal record at the state meet.

“Pushing myself in practice to stay in shape, eating healthy and staying hydrated has been my focus this week,” Brown said.

“In distance, it’s a self-discipline sport,” Wateland said. “When they get sent off to run, only they know how hard they are working. Every time Ramsey came back from a run, you saw that she worked her butt off. She was really dedicated to qualifying for state this year. So it’s great for her to do that, especially as a seventh grader.”

Beth Alexander

After qualifying for two events last year as a sophomore, Alexander will have a busy weekend with four events.

“Four events compared to two, I feel determined for it,” Alexander said. “I feel really good this year, but really scared as well.”

Alexander set the triple jump school record at the Eastern Dakota Conference meet with a jump of 34'11.00" and is hoping to get to 35 feet. She currently has the 10th best triple jump mark in the state.

She has cleared 05'01.00" in the high jump, putting her in the middle of the pack. Alexander’s top time in the 200-meter is 00:26.84 and ran a 00:48.24 in her first time ever doing the 300-meter hurdles.

“Beth qualifying for four events speaks to the athlete that she is,” Wateland said. “She’s been in the weight room all year and that work has been paying off. You have to be strong to qualify in four events and to stay healthy in track and field throughout the year. She deserves it and has a good chance to place at state.”

Amber Gathman

Gathman’s best discus throw of 119'07.00" ranks her ninth in the state. A senior, Gathman said her goal is to make it to the finals in the top nine.

The focus this week in practice has been quickness, explosiveness and getting the discus flat.

Gathman competed in the state meet her sophomore year and went down to Bismarck to watch her older sister, Alexa, throw last year.

“Going to state is a great experience,” Gathman said. “Being with your teammates and everything, it’s an awesome thing to do.”

“Amber has been a really good thrower for us the last four years,” Wateland said. “For her to qualify in discus this year is a great thing. She definitely deserves it and we’re excited to see what she can do at the state meet. She’s a great kid who works her butt off every day in practice and is a great leader for our team.”

Erin Nelson

In her second year participating in the sport, Nelson, a senior, has qualified in all three of her throwing events.

Her 39'09.00" mark in the shot put ranks her third behind Akealy Moton and Keely Walker of West Fargo.

Nelson has the seventh best javelin throw of 121'04.00" and has a discus throw of 118'07.00".

“I’d like to get at least a 40 in shot,” Nelson said. “It’s been my goal this whole year to break the school record. It’s 39’11.00” right now. The other two I’d like to get at least a 120 in discus and a 125 in javelin.”

“Erin, being just her second year in track, it’s pretty amazing to qualify in all three events,” Wateland said. “She’s been in the weight room every day this year. She’s a tremendous athlete with dedication and work ethic. That’s what led to her success this year. I’m proud of her efforts all year.”

Zach Dahlen

Dahlen’s triple jump mark of 42'06.50" at the EDC Meet qualified him for state and currently ranks him seventh.

“These next couple days I’ll be working on my form, my run throughs and making sure I’ve got everything down,” Dahlen, a junior, said.

Dahlen said he’s looking to PR again, which would likely place him at the state meet.

“Zach did a great job, he PRed by over two feet (at EDC),” Wateland said. “He had his legs underneath him and he attacked that board like he’s supposed to. To go from seeded eighth to finishing third was a great day for him.”

Bradley Davidson

After placing in the state meet his freshman, sophomore and junior seasons, Davidson is in high hopes of bringing home a state title.

His best bet, he said, is in the 100-meter dash, where his top time of 00:10.91 ranks him third.

Hunter Johnson of Bismarck High has run a 00:10.80 and Alex York of Fargo Davies has a time of 00:10.87.

“This week has been mainly focused on the 100-meter,” Davidson said. “My coach has been making me do 110s, because at the EDC Meet I didn’t finish hard enough as I should have. Getting that extra 10 meters in there will make that 100 meters on Friday and Saturday feel a little shorter. The focus is on the 100, and I feel I can win it.”

Davidson’s top time in the 200-meter is 00:22.94 and has run a 00:51.92 in the 400-meter.

He has dealt with an ankle injury this season, but said that’s behind him.

“Bradley has had those injuries throughout the year,” Wateland said. “He had a great 100 time at the EDC. He has to keep working hard this week. He’s a competitor, so I have a lot of confidence in what he’ll do at the state meet.”

Davidson said his state meet experience should help.

“It definitely helps with the pressure,” Davidson said. “A lot of athletes don’t thrive under it. I feel like I do. I handle the pressure well and I want to end my senior year with a bang. The goal and the plan is to win the 100-meter dash. My mindset is I’m going to do that. A tenth of a second to get the top spot in the state, that’s right there for me.”