Rugby girls win Class B state track title
Rugby’s girls track program has earned the reputation of being one of the best in the state, however a Class B state title has always eluded the Panthers.
Led by sparkling individual performances by senior Ashley Salwey and freshman Sydney Kraft, Rugby earned its first state track championship on May 23 at the Bismarck Community Bowl.
“When you come down here there are no guarantees, anything can happen,’ said Salwey, who won the 100 and 300 meter hurdles and ran a leg of the 800 and 1600 meter relays, which placed. “We knew if we competed hard, we had a good shot at it (a state title).”
Two-time winner Benson County was the leader after day one, but Rugby moved in front early in the second day. Then, BC reclaimed it…then Rugby had it again..then BC, but the Panthers clinched the title with a fourth place finish in the 1600 meter relay, the final event.
Rugby finished runner-up the past two state meets and was on everyone’s radar to contend for the title again. Rugby proved it could handle the pressure.
“There is a lot of pressure when you go in (to the meet) as serious contender,’ said Bill Jansen, Rugby girls head coach. “I was proud of how the girls handled it, and performed so well.”
Salwey entered the meet the favorite in the hurdles while Kraft was seeded first in the 1600 and 800 meters. The two won those events and become the first Panther girls to win two individual events at a state meet. Kraft also placed third in the 3200 meter run.
The two accounted for 46 of the Panthers 64 total points.
“What can you say about Ashley and Sydney,’ Jansen said. “They had great meets, but we also had others step up.”
Among them was sophomore Crystal Hovland. She placed second in the 300 meter hurdles – an event she was seeded ninth.
“I tried to flat out sprint and just try and finish,’ Hovland said. “At the end I could hear them coming behind me.”
Aubrey Hovland posted a big surprise in the high jump. The eighth grader was seeded 17th and not figured to place. However, she cleared 4-11 on a day when other jumpers struggled. She placed sixth.
“(5-1) gets me every time,’ quipped Hovland. “I wanted to go 5-1, but I’m happy that I was able to place, I didn’t expect to.”
The Panthers 800 meter relay finished seventh. Team members included: Crystal Hovland, Aubrey Hovland, Rachel Hoffert and Ashley Salwey. The 1600 meter relay placed fourth and team members were: Salwey, Rachel Hoffert, C. Hovland and Kraft. Rugby’s 400 and 3200 meter relays competed, but did not place.
The meet also provided a couple of underclassmen their first taste of the Class B meet. Sophomore Molly Koenig competed in the shot put while sophomore Josie Klein participated in the triple jump. Although they didn’t place, the experience will prove valuable in the future, Jansen said.
Ironically, the Panthers first-ever state title came in a year when it did not capture a region title.
“It’s hard to understand how you can win a state title not a region title,’ Jansen said. “It’s just one of those quirks about this sport, this meet.”
However, there was nothing quirky about the Panthers performance.
And now they have a championship trophy to go with an already strong reputation.
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