Smith shooting for more state titles

Watford City sophomore distance runner Asha Smith has already accomplished a great deal during her high school career.

As a freshman, Smith led Watford City to a third-place finish at the state meet with a team-high 25 points, including state titles in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs in times of 5 minutes, 20.32 seconds and 11:37.31, respectively.

She’s poised for another championship push this year as she has finished first during each individual event this spring.

“She’s completely focused all the time,” Watford City coach Greg Brown said. “She is the leader of the pack.”

Though she still has more than two high school seasons in which to compete, Smith is already hoping to run in the Division I ranks.

She could join four-time state champion Christine Bruins as the second Division I track athlete to emerge from Watford City in the last eight years. Bruins competed at North Dakota State.

“Right now, she likes to think she can go D-I,” Brown said. “We’re already setting those types of goals for her.”

Already a champion in the mile and two-mile, Smith has her eyes on the 800-meter title this spring. She finished fourth at the state meet last season in the same event (2:24.25).

“That’d be really cool if I could win the 800,” Smith said, “but it’s the state meet, and anything is possible.”

The North Dakota state track and field meet is scheduled for May 23-24 in Bismarck.

Ryan seeking redemption

against Velva

Bishop Ryan baseball has lost one game in Region 6 play this season, and it came at the hands of the defending regular-season champions: Velva-Drake-Anamoose.

The Aggies, still undefeated in regional play, edged Ryan 6-4 at Corbett Field on April 15. The Lions were plagued by missed opportunities that day, leaving 12 men on base, including nine in scoring position.

The teams square off again at noon Saturday in Velva.

“When we last played Velva, we just couldn’t get that big hit that we needed,” Ryan coach Brent Nelson said. “But we’ve focused a lot on hitting on this last week, and hopefully we have some kids that can step up and drive the ball when we’ve got runners on.”

Before V-D-A, Ryan battles another Region 6 opponent in Garrison/Max, a team the Lions outscored 37-2 in an April 22 doubleheader at Jack Hoeven Park.

The Lions (14-3 overall, 6-1 Region 6) travel for a doubleheader against the Troopers at 4 p.m. today, seven days removed from their last game.

Nelson is hopeful that his team can overcome its recent lack of live-game action.

“Hopefully a week in the cage will help us in those situations,” Nelson said.

Beulah gearing up for Region 8

title defense

Over the last two seasons, the Beulah baseball team, which hadn’t won a state title since 1956 until its most recent championship in 2012, has been a staple in the Class B baseball scene.

But this season has presented a new set of challenges for the Miners (8-5 overall, 5-3 Region 8). With just three seniors on their roster, the defending region champions lack the experience they had during the last two seasons.

But youth hasn’t deterred Beulah coach Bob Koch’s confidence. He believes that with a bit more defensive consistency, his team can accomplish its third consecutive state-tournament appearance.

“We feel that there’s enough talent here to make it to state,” Koch said. “We’re still not playing consistent defense like we want, but we’ve been hitting the hell out of the ball. We’ve been scoring a lot of runs, hitting the ball hard, and that’s come against some good pitching. This region is tough.”

The Miners sustained early losses to regional opponents Shiloh Christian and Kidder County but have since bounced back.

Beulah answered the Kidder County defeat with a 7-3 victory over the Pirates on April 22. Nearly two weeks later, the Miners swept the Skyhawks 11-10 and 6-2 to further establish themselves as regional contenders.

“Shiloh is a very talented team,” Koch said. “To me, they’re right up there along with Hazen and Kidder County. Those three are at the top, but we’re right there with them right now.”

The Miners host a Region 8 doubleheader with Kidder County at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Joe Mellenbruch covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @Mellenbruch_MDN.