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Future Jimmie Connor Knatterud playing baseball, running track

May 4—NEW ROCKFORD, N.D. — Throughout his career, New Rockford-Sheyenne's Connor Knatterud has been balancing multiple sports in every season.

Knatterud is a member of the Rockets football, baseball and track and field teams. Through the spring semester over the last four years, the senior has had to balance playing for the Black Sox baseball team and running for the track and field team.

"I don't really favor one over the other," Knatterud said. "I just do whatever one seems a little more important to me. I love them both probably equal even though I might be going to run track for college. But I still love playing baseball a lot."

As of May 2, the outfielder and pitcher is hitting .333 with three RBIs, three runs and six stolen bases. On the mound, Knatterud has made three appearances over 11.2 innings, compiling a 2-1 record with a 1.80 ERA, striking out 11 hitters and only walking five.

On the bump, Knatterud said he throws a fastball and a slider and is working on getting better control of his changeup. Knatterud said his best pitch is his slider because he can spot it in the strike zone consistently.

This season, Knatterud has played center field and pitched, but head coach Dave Skogen said he has played catcher in Legion baseball and has the ability to play third base and all three outfield positions.

"It's a coach's dream to have a guy with the skill set to be able to play at a high level at any number of positions," Skogen said. "I'm constantly looking for our most efficient defensive lineup. It might not be the best guy, his talent playing at the best spot, but where we can be best as a team. His ability to play multiple positions at a high level and also with the attitude of doing what needs to be done for the good of the team. You couldn't ask for more as a coach."

In addition to being at the top of the Black Sox's lineup, Skogen said Knatterud has worked his way to the top of the team's rotation as one of the team's aces.

On the track, he has run in three meets, participating in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, 4x100 relay and 4x200 relay. He has three first-place finishes as an individual this year with two coming in the 100-meter dash and one in the 200 — meter dash. Knatterud finished first in both races at the Mariya Tate Memorial on April 25, finishing the 100-meter dash with 11.21 seconds and the 200-meter dash with 22.87 seconds. Knatterud said his best track event is the 100-meter dash.

Knatterud said his best skill as a runner is his ability to maintain his speed. During the last two years that Skogen has been the Black Sox head coach, Skogen said he has seen Knatterud grow in his leadership ability. Skogen also said he has seen Knatterud's swing improve from last year to this year.

"As far as a leader, he's grown quite a bit," Skogen said. "He was a captain last year as a junior. He's a captain again this year as a senior. He stepped into that leadership role. He's great with his teammates. My son Jack is a bat boy, he's in fourth grade, he's (Knatterud) been a phenomenal role model for him both on the field and off the field."

Knatterud said as a runner and an outfielder, his speed comes in handy in both sports.

"Running track I think helps with every sport," Knatterud said. "It doesn't teach you how to run but you're getting better because you're staying in shape, you're running a lot, you're getting more athletic. I'd say the direct correlation between the two is I have better mobility out on the baseball field. ... I'd say the workouts that our coach has us do really focuses on explosiveness, trying to be faster. So a lot of that correlates to baseball because you need to be explosive to succeed in baseball."

This year, Knatterud missed the Black Sox game against Langdon/Area/Edmore/Munich on April 25 to participate in the Mariya Tate Memorial track meet. Knatterud said the way he decides which event to go to is based on the importance of the game or meet to the season.

Knatterud is not the only member of the baseball team to be doing both sports — eight of his teammates are dual sport athletes.

"That helps my cause a lot because then I don't feel bad if I choose one over the other and I'm letting down my friends," Knatterud said. "So it's nice having some that do both too."

Skogen said it helps all of the sports teams at the school to have multi-sport athletes.

"There's no doubt through Coach (Elliot) Belquist's track program, the work they put in, in the off-season, the weights, all the stuff they do, these kids are turning into phenomenal athletes," Skogen said. "That translates to the baseball field, on the defensive side, tracking down balls, getting to balls in the infield, the pressure we put on teams when we get guys on base with stealing, just even that threat, knowing that we got guys that can steal, that gets into pitcher's heads when they're pitching, makes them shorten up, makes them a little tight."

Skogen said he expects Knatterud to pitch in at least one of his team's next two games on Monday, May 6, and Thursday, May 9. Through the remainder of the baseball season, Knatterud said he wants to increase his average and lower his times on the track.

Knatterud is continuing his running career after high school, committing to run at the University of Jamestown. He said he chose UJ over the University of Sioux Falls because Jamestown has a mechanical engineering degree.

"I really like the track program they have down there," Knatterud added. "All the coaches and the athletes seem really fun, really nice. I like the UJ campus so everything just seemed to fit perfectly."

Before he comes to run for the Jimmies, Knatterud still has to put on the football pads one more time. He is one of four Rockets players named to the roster for the 2024 Shrine Bowl.

"That meant a lot to me because when I was younger I always used to look at the high schoolers and see that they were going to these big Shrine Bowl games and I always thought that that'd be cool to do that when I'm that age," Knatterud said. "So being named to it means a lot to me."