Carrington's Kenadie Pazdernik hoping for big state meet performance

May 25—CARRINGTON, N.D. — The Carrington track-and-field team headed into the 2024 NDHSAA State Track and Field Championships with high expectations for a lot of their athletes and that includes Kenadie Pazdernik.

"It would mean a lot (to succeed at the state meet)," Pazdernik said. "I've put in a lot of work this season. I feel like being able to do well for my team and I feel like it would mean the world to me to do well."

The junior runner sits in second in the 3200-meter race with a time of 12:00.71 and third in the 1600-meter race with a time of 5:25:35. She also is the second runner on the Cardinals 4x800 relay team that sits first in Class B with a time of 9:53.29. In the two long-distance races, Pazdernik trails teammate Madison Johnson, who she said is one of her close friends. Pazdernik said running with Johnson motivates her to continue improving.

"We're pretty close," Pazdernik said. "We've been running together for all of our track career pretty much. So we've created a pretty good friendship I'd say."

Cardinals head coach Greg Hoeckle said his expectations for Pazdernik as she headed into the tournament were to stay at the front of the pack.

"She's gotta run her own race," Hoeckle said. "She's not going to try and stay up with Madison. She's gotta run her race and be competitive against the other athletes. ... Her (Des Lacs-Burlington's Brynn Hanson) times haven't been as great this year but we're expecting her to do a lot better at the state meet and hopefully Kenadie can run right with her."

Pazdernik has competed at the state meet every year since she was in eighth grade. Her best individual finish in the final meet is a fourth-place finish in the 3200-meter race with a time of 12:04.67 last year, as of May 22.

"She has qualified in those in the past but this year her times are quite a bit better and that comes from her being able to speed up her 200 and 400 times so that allows her to run faster distance times because she can hold a higher rate of speed longer," Hoeckle said. "She's worked hard at it all year so she's right where she wants to be and hopefully she has a good state meet."

Hoeckle said Pazdernik has continually been willing to work hard to be a successful long-distance runner.

Throughout her four years as a Cardinal, Pazdernik has run in the 1600 and 3200-meter races every year. To do well at running long distances, she said one needs to be able to fight through pain.

"The season has been pretty good but I mean there's definitely things that I've had to work through," Pazdernik said. "I'd say that yeah, I'm pretty mentally tough."

Pazdernik said she has been running the longer races since she first joined the program in eighth grade. Pazdernik said one of her favorite parts of the sport is the time she spends with her teammates.

Pazdernik said her best skill as a runner is her positive attitude. Hoeckle said Pazdernick succeeds thanks to her consistency, work ethic and competitiveness.

"I love the rewarding feeling of having a good race or getting a PR (personal record) and knowing that you're getting better every day, even through the tough days that you're still progressing and being a better athlete every day," Pazdernik said.

While the weather in Bismarck is projected to be hovering around 50 degrees during the second day of events on Friday, May 24, it does not bother Pazdernik.

"It definitely involves more warming up so that we don't pull muscles or anything during our race," Pazdernik said. "But, honestly I'd rather it be cold than 90 degrees, so we're just gonna have to make sure we have our warm gear and be ready for anything and know that we have to push through it."

The state meet serves as the final one for Hoeckle who is retiring after 34 years. If the Cardinals win the state title as a team this year, it will be the girls' program's first since 2014 and the boys' program's first since 1982.

"It would mean the world," Pazdernik said. "He's been such a great coach. He's so encouraging and all the things that he's done for all of us. It would be awesome to do that for our team and for him."

Pazdernik said she wants to get stronger before next year.

"I mean maybe getting in the weight room a little more and building some more muscle so that next season I can come back stronger and better than ever," Pazdernik said.

While she is only a junior, Pazdernik said the University of Jamestown, the University of Mary and Valley City State University have already contacted her.