Firebirds continue to push each other to the limit at Grahams Island Invitational

Jack Williams
Devils Lake Journal
Devils Lake boys varsity runners Tyler Goss and Gabe Houle lead the pack at the Grahams Island Invitational on Sept. 12.

Siblings will always argue, bicker and compete with each other. Whether it’s who broke something, why the other one is crying or who is the favorite of their parents. However, rarely do you see siblings put against each other and compete for something, unless it’s a Disney Channel movie. 

Devils Lake sophomore Tyler Goss has been behind his twin brother Brady Goss in every race this season. Despite being on the same team, Tyler has been chasing Brady and trying to get that extra leg ahead of him since mid-August. On Saturday at Grahams Island, Tyler had finally pulled ahead of his brother. 

In what is considered to be a home meet for Devils Lake High School at the Grahams Island Invitational, Tyler would not only beat his brother, but finish in the top 10 for the Firebirds in the boys varsity race, picking up a sixth place finish with a time of 17:25.10. He beat out Brady by only 0.82 seconds. 

“I’ve always been trying to beat him and that’s the first time I’ve ever done it,” Tyler said. “It’s just a relief to finally do. I thought I started pretty strong, which is what I’ve tried to work on the most, and I just stayed strong, felt good and had a bunch of people pushing me throughout the race.” 

The trio of Tyler, Brady and senior Gabe Houle led the pack down the first stretch, holding on to spots one, two and eight coming around. While the four runners would eventually fall a few spots, as Grand Forks Red River would finish in spots one through four, the trio remained consistent in the top 10. Houle would round out the effort finishing in ninth with a time of 17:42.76. 

Despite being in direct competition with Red River, the Firebirds benefited off running alongside one of the top teams in the region. The Roughriders would end up taking first place as a team in the varsity boys race by a wide margin, posting only 18 points, with Grand Forks Central coming in second by a 37 point margin. 

“The Red River group has a lot of good runners and I was just hoping to stay in sight of them,” Tyler said. “They helped push me. Gabe pushed me for a while and so did Brady. Everyone was really just pushing me throughout the entire race.”

Their opposition may act as a force to push Devils Lake’s top runners, but the Firebirds top trio is pushed even more by each other. While Brady has had Tyler’s number for the past few races, Houle has beaten both of them for the majority of this season. Even down the line, Firebirds head coach Nick Kavli said senior Jacob Vaagen has been pushing those ahead of him. 

“They’re teammates at the end, but in the race, they are special competitors and like to race each other as they like to race everyone else,” Kavli said. “Even our four/five runner, Jacob Vaagen, has been a leader amongst the team competition. He’s really kept the focus on training hard and working hard.” 

Outside of the top 10, Devils Lake had two more runners finish in the boys varsity race in Vaagen, who finished in 20th with a time of 19:42.43 and senior Christopher Horton, who finished in 23rd with a time of 21:04.17. As the Firebirds varsity squad heads back on the road to take on Valley City next weekend, Kavli said the boys squad is continuing to put in the effort and push themselves through the season.   

“It was nice to see three get in the top 10, with the level of competition they have here,” Kavli said. “They’ve been running really well this year and working really hard and it’s nice to see them place in the top 10 here today.” 

In the girls varsity race, the younger squad is continuing to develop as they were lead off by sophomore Payton Johnston, who finished in 13th with a time of 22:42.00. Despite falling down a few spots from the start of the race, Johnston said a positive mindset kept her driving to stay in the top 15.

“A positive mindset is always key to believe in yourself and believe in all your hard work and training,” Johnston said. “You just gotta keep believing in yourself.”  

Johnston said she was also pushed by the Red River group, as they would lock in spots four through six in the girls varsity race and finish in second with a score of 45. In addition she said that she tries to keep up with the boys team during practice.

“They [Red River] push you and pace you, and you got to think about running with the boys in practice and not sticking with the girls,” Johnston said. 

Following Johnston was freshman Gabrielle McLaurin, who finished in 15th with a time of 22.48.05, junior Kiya McLaurin, placing in 18th with a time of 23:16.92, sophomore Kayla Britsch, taking 21st with a time of 23:51.73, and freshman Quin Haugland,who finished in 30th with a time of 26:56.31. 

“The girls team is not quite as deep as the boys, but we had a good showing here today,” Kavli said. “Payton ran well and Gabrielle has been running really well for us up there. Same thing for Kayla Britsch, and Kiya, who was able to be our third runner today after being injured for a bit. Quin stepped up as a fifth runner and allowed us to place as a team. They aren’t as deep, but are still hard workers and are doing alright.” 

Contact Jack Williams with any comments at or on Twitter @jackgwilliams.

Devils Lake girls varsity runner Payton Johnston rounds the corner at the Grahams Island Invitational on Sept. 12.

Devils Lake cross country non-varsity finishes at Grahams Island Invitational

Girls junior varsity

11. Hallie Fritel - 27:39.02

18. Katelyn McLaurin - 29.05.54

19. Hannah Vaagen - 30:28.54

Girls junior high

3. Anna Shock - 14:19.68

16. Cante Touche - 17:33.01 

Boys junior high

3. Ben Larson - 12:00.59 

5. Adam Sobolik - 12:12.34 

12. Noah Azure - 13:17.11

13. Taydon Tripke - 13:19.13 

16. Zander Gleason - 14:14.03

19. Kellan Wiberg - 14:55.54 

25. Isaac Vaahen - 17:00.67

26. Carter Nelson - 22:07.19 

27. Barrett Mudgett - 23.43.32