Haugeberg leaving mark on Watford City sports

McKayla Haugeberg doesn’t have a problem finding avenues for her competitive nature.

Many North Dakota high school athletes play two sports. A few dabble in three. Haugeberg participates on five varsity teams and let the record show that whatever she’s playing, she’s playing to win.

“I’ll take the game of chess competitive, checkers competitive,” the Watford City senior said. “Anything’s competitive. Even in class I try to see if I can finish writing notes faster than everybody. I’m competitive all around.”

That competitive spirit is evident on the basketball court, where she’s a key reason behind the Wolves’ 9-2 start. The pass-first point guard manages to put the ball in the basket (13.7 points per game), but her biggest strength may be on the defensive end.

Haugeberg averages five steals and five rebounds a game to go with five assists per contest. When others are out of place, Haugeberg redirects them to their proper destination. And when opposing teams struggle to get where they need to go, her intellect leads to many of her swipes.

“She’s always just had a good feel for the game,” Watford City coach John Zenz said. “If she could be a football player, she’d be a heck of a middle linebacker as well because she has a sense of where everybody should be on the court.”

Basketball provides Haugeberg a rare opportunity to make her teammates shine. Softball, while a team game, is individually focused. Cross country and track and field are individual sports, and she’s a 5-foot-4 outside hitter for the volleyball team, where she led the team in kills and frequently put up double-digit dig totals.

In basketball, she gets to facilitate others’ success.

“I don’t really know, I like the feeling of making others look good, giving someone else the chance to score,” Haugeberg said. “I get to let others have some glory.”

In Katie Mogen, Haugeberg has found a young star to mentor. Mogen, a freshman, leads the Wolves in scoring and has been aiming to perform like Haugeberg for years.

“She was a role model when I was little, so I try to do as much as I can like she can,” Mogen said. “She’s probably one of the most athletic people I know.”

Haugeberg’s greatest achievements come when she’s airborne, specifically more than 10 feet off the ground. She is the two-time defending Class B pole-vaulting champion, with a three-peat set as the target to wrap up her high school career.

She’s won with 10-9 vaults each of the last two years, but has a new goal for her final season.

“I’m definitely aiming for 11, I think 12 feet would be a goal to reach for me,” Haugeberg said. “I stick that out in the far picture. For sure, I need to make 11 feet this year.”

On the hardwood, Haugeberg would like one last chance at a state tournament. To get there, that means getting through teams like undefeated Ray, No. 3 New Town and undefeated Parshall in the region tourney.

But the memories of Watford City’s last appearance in 2011 are still on Haugeberg’s mind. She was a sophomore starter for the Wolves that year, when they lost all three games and took eighth.

“It’s always a dream to go to state,” she said. “We played a better team than us right away. We found out we weren’t as good a team as we thought we were.”

Haugeberg has not selected a college or a sport yet for her post-high school career. She’s been looked at for basketball, softball -which she picked up when Watford City added the program last year – and track, with schools such as Dakota State University in Madison, S.D., and Williston State College scouting her for hoops.

“I could not imagine my life without it,” Haugeberg said. “Sports is pretty much my life.”