Nov. 8—NEW ROCKFORD, N.D. — The Belquist family has officially added another NCAA Division I athlete to the midst after Kelsie Belquist committed to run track and field at the University of Nebraska.
Belquist joins her father, Elliott, who played football at North Dakota State University and her brother, Bo, who currently plays football at the University of North Dakota.
"It hasn't really set in yet until you're out there on the track running," Elliott said. "But, they work hard, our kids work hard. We're fortunate that they like sports and we're just happy that they can get out and compete at the next level and get their school paid for, stuff like that is always nice."
Kelsie Belquist is a senior for New Rockford-Sheyenne and competes in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dash and the 100- and 300-meter hurdles. She also competes in the 4x100-, 4x200- and 4x400-meter relays and the long jump.
During her career, Belquist has set the overall state record in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 42.02 seconds and the Class B record in the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.63 seconds.
Belquist said University of Nebraska coaches told her they were recruiting her to run the 400-meter hurdles and they would see how she does at the 200-meter dash and the 100-meter hurdles when she got to the campus. She said she is unsure if she will redshirt during her freshman year.
"I'm pretty excited," she said. "It feels like it's a big relief to finally pick one and I'm proud of the choice I made. Some people might regret the decision but I definitely do not, I'm very happy with what I've decided. I think that I know what I'm gonna run, I think it's beneficial in the high school season."
She said it is a tremendous help to to already make her decision as she prepares for her final year of high school track and field. She said part of the Huskers' coaching staff's recruiting pitch was the whole state supports the university because of the lack of professional sports in Nebraska.
"So, their college, Nebraska college is the professional team for a lot of the citizens there," she said. "When I went, I went to a volleyball game, you see so many fans show up. They weren't even playing a good team and all these fans show up to go. ... They just have a really nice fanbase, everyone is super nice. Something about it reminded me of Fargo and Bismarck, small-town feel but it's big."
Belquist said her final list was the University of Nebraska, Baylor University (Texas), North Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota.
When she visited the campus, Belquist said one of the athletes showing her around was current Huskers freshman Cece Deebom, who committed to the Huskers after a four-year career at Fargo Davies High School. Belquist and Deebom are not the only athletes on the team from North Dakota as McKenna Lovehaug is heading into her sophomore year with the Huskers after a career at Fargo Davies.
"So, it was nice to have someone that you know," she said. "It felt more home-like, I also get along really well with coach E ((Brenton Emmanuel) and all the other coaching staff. After a while, the only thing I could think about was Nebraska and their school, every time I thought about my future."
As she prepares to move 600 miles from home, Belquist said it will be helpful off the track to have a built-in friendship with Deebom.
"I think it'll be good obviously a lot of college kids know what you're going through but she'll (Deebom) know even more because in our hometown we're two hours away," Belquist said. "But, we'll be together. She'll know exactly what I'm feeling and it's gonna be nice to have someone I know. That was a big decision for me, what helped me decide was having her there."
Belquist said she is looking forward to facing a higher level of competition that will push her to get better.
"I think there's gonna be quite a big jump but in practice, I'm kind of the person that pushes everyone," Belquist said. "So, I'm excited to see what I can do with a track and with people pushing me because I run my best races when I'm running against people that are just as fast as me. So, I think that, that's gonna help a lot."
This is the third set of Division I recruiting trips that Elliott has been on, and he has plenty to compare the Huskers to.
"This is bigger, bigger university, bigger facilities, everything's bigger when you get to those places like Nebraska," Elliott said. "So, it was pretty cool, we were fortunate enough to get to go watch Bo play football down there last year. You kind of have an idea of everything but then to get in and look at the facilities that you have it's pretty cool, pretty historic place."