All season, West Fargo Sheyenne Boys Cross Country Coach Troy Thorson has preached the importance of "little steps" as he looks to build the program into a serious state contender.
While not there yet, the most significant of those steps so far may have taken place Saturday, Oct. 27 in Jamestown.
Jacob Knodle became the first Mustang to earn All-State honors, placing seventh in 16:16.44 and leading Sheyenne to a ninth-place score of 248 at the Class A State Tournament.
Williston took first overall with a score of 58, 29 points better than two-time defending champion Bismarck Century. Individually, Bismarck's Sean Korsmo crossed the line first with a time of 15:45.42.
It was a year of firsts for Knodle, who also became the first runner in team history to win a regular season race. His performance Saturday was also a marked improvement from his state run a season ago, when he placed 50th in 17:19.38 as a freshman.
"To make a jump to get in the top-10 in a highly competitive field here at state really speaks to what he does day in and day out to make himself better," Thorson said of Knodle.
Having already competed well against some of the top runners in the state throughout the fall, a fully confident Knodle says he entered Saturday in attack mode.
"I was happy with how aggressive I went out," he said. "I just tried to stick with some of the leaders and basically just put it on the line and see how it worked out."
Knodle was also happy to play a big role in what was easily the best team finish in school history, as the Mustangs had previously never finished above 13th at state.
"It's exciting," he said. "As a whole I think our team is starting to pick up steam and we still have a lot to build off of. It was just a fun season."
Aiden Johnson (38th, 17:10.32), Lee Williams (62nd, 17:36.85), Troy Mullenberg (67th, 17:38.91) and Caeden Johnson (74th, 17:42.59) completed the scoring for Sheyenne.
Braxton Bruer and Aiden Biewer each had top-50 finishes for West Fargo, which placed 12th with 364 points.
Bruer was 39th in 17:11.89, while Biwer was 45th in 17:17.07. Noah Vaagene (53rd, 17:21.22), Jace Dullum (98th, 18:06.85) and Nick Anderson (129th, 18:42.57) also scored for the Packers.
The finish was an improvement from 2017, when West Fargo placed 14th with a score of 438.
"The boys finished better than last year, which is always a good thing," Packer Coach Brad Amundson said. "We had a number of injuries and ups and downs this season, but they finished strong."