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Rugby CC teams race to the finish

By Staff | Oct 9, 2009

The finish line is in sight for Rugby’s cross country teams.

The end of the season, that is.

The Panthers have one final regular season meet today, Oct. 10 in Fort Totten before setting their sights on the two biggest races of the season.

The Rugby boys squad has lived up to its preseason expectations as a serious contender for a Class B title. The Panthers have been rated No. 1 in the every Class B coaches’ poll so far. Four different runners have led the team at a meet this season, and the Panthers have six runners quite capable of running 5,000 meters in a sub-19:00 time.

The team will be the favorite to defend its region title on Saturday, Oct. 17 in Cooperstown and could very well get six runners to finish in the top 20.

A week later in Valley City the team will be gunning for the program’s first-ever state title, but standing in their way will be defending champion New Town.

The Eagles boast two of the state’s top runners, but are also beginning to show they have other runners improving their times, and Rugby coach Bill Jansen and his squad are taking notice.

“They are not going to give up (that title easily),’ he said. “We know we have to perform well in order to accomplish our goal (of a state title).”

That past few weeks the team has battled sickness to a handful of runners and Janen hopes he has a healthy squad come regionals.

Rugby’s girls squad may not have the depth which the boys possess, but the team can’t be overlooked for a top three finish at the region meet. Griggs Co. Central, Velva and Valley City boast good teams, but Rugby could crack into that top three with a strong performance.

Once again the squad has struggled to have five or six girls run consistently every meet due to injury or illness. The one constant has been the running of sophomore Sydney Kraft, who has led the team at every meet and likely will be a top five finisher at regionals. The key will be getting gutsy efforts from the rest of the team to push Rugby into the top three. Several runners have been bothered with injuries or illness, including Chelsea Halvorson and Hannah Christenson. Both were all-region runners a season ago. Jansen hopes his team can rise to the occasion come regionals. “Maybe the stars will align and we can put forth a great effort and see what happens,’ he said. “We have a lot of questions right now, but we’re capable of finishing high.”

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