Symbria Bell had little reason to look over her shoulder for the majority of the Minot Rabbit Run on Friday.
The New Town High School senior cruised with a 30-yard lead until Shiloh Christian eighth-grader Amber Stevahn made her move with about one quarter mile remaining in the nearly 2.5-mile cross country race.
The growing commotion from spectators alerted Bell to the company. She matched Stevahn's late kick and held on for a one-second victory in 16 minutes, 33 seconds at Souris Valley Golf Course.
New Town senior Symbria Bell nears the finish line in an exciting cross country finish Friday. Bell held off Shiloh Christian’s Amber Stevahn by one second at the Minot Rabbit Run at Souris Valley Golf Course.
"I saw her out of the corner of my eye and I didn't really know she was that close," Bell said. "(The pressure) helps me a lot because, if not, I probably would've just (kept my pace)."
Bell looked comfortable throughout the morning race and described the competition as more than just a place improvement on last week's top-five finish in Jamestown.
"I ran the way I wanted to," she said. "I kind of tried to do what I did last week - just stay with the front of the pack for awhile (until) I felt like I could start building up and catching some girls and then at the end I just tried to keep my place and finish."
Keeping her place Friday proved more of a challenge than Bell expected after building a large lead. Stevahn described the race as her best yet.
"My dad was like, 'Go Amber! She's right there,' and then I just started to sprint as hard as I can," Stevahn said. "It feels really good because I worked so hard to get (near) her."
Southern McLean's Abi Waloch finished third with a time of 16:43.
Eighth-grader Emily Nelson was Minot High's top finisher for the second straight week, finishing eighth in 17:10 to lead the Majettes to a team win. MHS had 63 points followed by Williston at 78 and Shiloh Christian at 106. MHS and Williston were the only Class A schools in the 12-team field.
"I was pleased with the effort in the heat and I was looking at the times and the times are all better than last week," MHS coach Shannon Bushnell said. "Meg Super cut her time by quite a bit. She took off 45 seconds."
Super, a sophomore, was the second Majette to finish (17:15).
Shiloh runner holds off Minot's Beach
Shiloh Christian's Elliott Stone played a game of cat-and-mouse with MHS senior Andrew Beach in the boys 3.1-mile race. Beach, coming off his first career win a week earlier, flirted with the lead on the second loop around the course.
He and Stone climbed the course's toughest hill together with about one mile remaining, but Stone turned up the pace with a half mile left and cruised to an eight-second win in 17:16.
"I always try to stay with the lead pack as long as I can and sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't," Beach said. "I've never been much of a kicker, so I usually try to do my work in the first two-thirds of the race. And then what happens at the end happens. I try as hard as I can, but (the end is) usually my weakest point."
Beach proved that he's capable of making up ground on tough inclines.
"It's definitely the place to get in the lead if you can because, you know, obviously, that's where everyone slows down and whether you try it or not it's a weak point for everyone in the race," Beach said, "so the key is to just power up it as fast as you can and try to keep your stride at the top of the hill and then just never slow down."
Williston's Devan Shumway finished third in 17:33.
A week after the Coyotes claimed the team win, the Magicians flipped places with their West Region rivals. MHS had 46 points to lead the 10-team field, followed by Williston at 55 and New Town at 62.
MHS coach Aaron Klingbeil was glad to see Beach get challenged and excited to see junior Jaden Wahlund and senior Billy Sartwell race for the first time this season. Wahlund was the Magicians' second finisher, taking seventh place in 18:02. Sartwell (14th) was the fifth Magician to score and finished in 18:54.
"We're happy with (Beach's) time and one of the big things is he got to race man to man with somebody," Klingbeil said, "where it was surging and dropping back and all those little things, so that's an important skill for him right now."
The course was used for the first time since the Souris Valley flood of 2011 and served as a trial ahead of MHS hosting this year's West Region meet in October.
"I had several spectators and several of the runners tell me how much fun it was, so that's a big deal," Klingbeil said.
He plans to move the finish line slightly south so that runners can race longer across a grassy stretch.
Tim Chapman covers Minot High School athletics. Follow him on Twitter @chapmatp.