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Daniel Asa of West Fargo takes part in the long jump Friday at the Packer Relays in West Fargo. Dave Wallis

Success coming in leaps and bounds for Packers

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The Packers track and field teams — both the boys and the girls — have been finding plenty to be happy with at their meets this season, especially in the hurdles thanks to the efforts of senior Daniel Asa and sophomore Kennedi Sand.

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The two have been near the top of the standings in hurdle events throughout this season. They also both compete in the javelin toss, and both have earned victories as well.

Head coach Darin McKinnon is appreciative not only of the success they have had for the team but also their willingness to compete.

“For a lot of kids, the hurdles isn’t something that they really want to do,” McKinnon said. “When you see a big hurdle standing in front of you, you want to avoid it. You have to have not only the technique down but also that drive to attack. Both of them have that, and so far it has gone pretty well.”

While Sand — the daughter of Kent and Jolene Sand — appreciates the “individual contribution to a team effort” in track, she is a contributor on the Packer volleyball and basketball teams as well.

On the other hand, Asa – the son of Eric and Sophia Asa – has decided to place all of his focus on track and field, preferring the ability to have his achievements solely in his hands.

“I like that my hard work directly applies to what I can do in track,” Asa said. “I like the teamwork of football and basketball, but if I want to be better, I couldn’t really do that because someone else didn’t want it.”

Both runners are willing to perform in whatever event McKinnon and the assistant coaches ask from them, but they enjoy the difficulty of running the hurdles in particular.

“I just like having that barrier,” Sand said. “It’s something to strive for, instead of plain running.”

Asa admits running the hurdles feels like flying to him now that he is very familiar with the technique needed.

According to McKinnon, Sand burst on the scene in her eighth-grade season, scoring points for the team early on. Asa also made the varsity team as an eighth-grader, but has had to develop and grow into the position he is in now, putting in plenty of work during the offseason.

“Danny had to mature with it because he came in so young,” McKinnon said. “For boys early on, it can be a challenge because they just don’t have that strength right off the bat, but he has really grown in that position and has the strength that you need in that event.”

While both have been successful this season, neither are satisfied with their performances yet.

“I feel pretty good (about my season so far) but my times aren’t as good as they should be, but that will get them down there eventually,” Sand said. “It does feel good to be on top, though, rather than taking third and fourth like I normally did last year.”

Asa echoed the need to improve, despite being at or near the top of every hurdle race so far.

With three weeks left in the 2014 season, Sand knows she can improve but is feeling fairly confident in her chance to do well since she has already topped her competition this season. Asa, on the other hand, will not let himself feel that way.

“I have very high expectations, but I don’t want to be too confident,” Asa said. “Places can be stolen from you when you are too confident. I definitely want to have that second-place attitude. In the end, I have to be better.”

In the fall, Asa will head to North Dakota State University, majoring in molecular biology and biochemistry, and planning to be a decathlete for the Bison.

Meanwhile, Sand has another two years at West Fargo High School, and simply hopes to continually improve in all three sports.

According to McKinnon, the possibilities for the two in the future are “endless.”

“Danny can go on, and it will be fun to see him take on the next level of competition,” McKinnon said. “With his dedication and his work ethic, he will be successful with whatever he chooses to do. Kennedi has a few more years to compete, so we hope to see her continue on with that success.”

What he will remember most about the two, however, is the dedication and attitude they brought to practice each day.

“The thing that stands out to me is that both of them are just all-around good kids,” McKinnon said. “They are respectful and they come to practice and work hard. They are both nice kids and they have the talent that goes with it. They are dedicated to what they are supposed to do.”

The teams travel to different locations Friday. The girls travel to Fargo South for a 3 p.m. meet, while the boys head to Minot for a 4 p.m. meet.

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