Rugby boys win Class B CC title
Make room in the Rugby School trophy case.
The Panther boys cross country team is Class B state champion.
Top-ranked Rugby overcame sickness to a few of its runners and a rain-soaked course to win the school’s first-ever CC title on an overcast day in Valley City on Oct. 24.
“This is pretty special,’ said Rugby coach Bill Jansen. “As the season went along we knew it (a state title) was possible, but it was something we had to earn.”
And the Panthers did.
Five Rugby runners placed in the top 20, earning all-state honors and the Panthers’ 64 points were 29 ahead of runner-up New Town. The Eagles, the defending state champion, had their top three runners place first, third and seventh, respectively. NT’s fourth and fifth place finishers, however, were well behind the lead pack.
Rugby sophomore Kyle Volk was eighth; senior Dylan Yoder, ninth; sophomore Erik Wangler, 13th; senior Dustin Jundt, 14th; and junior Wyatt Thompson, 20th.
Those five went out hard to begin the race, getting to the lead pack. Although the course was relatively flat there were a few turns in which runners had to go down a small hill, and those were quite slick due to the steady rain that fell throughout the races.
“That last turn (before the finish) I was really nervous, I didn’t want to fall,’ said Jundt, who achieved a personal goal of a top 15 finish. Jundt placed 19th in 2008.
Volk’s eighth place finish topped his 15th place effort a season ago. He finished the race strong, passing two runners over the last 300 meters to complete the 5,000 meters in 17:31.
Jansen was also pleased with the effort of the other five runners. Junior Garrett Thompson, who was battling the flu, finished 53rd, well off his usual pace.
“Garrett gutted it out and did his best,’ Jansen said.
Sophmores Andrew Hershey and Taylor DeMers were competing in their second state meet. Hershey placed 67th while DeMers was 113th. Eighth grader Chris Hamilton, 87th; and seventh grader Tanner Bernhardt, 94th, were competing in their first state meet.
Rugby entered the race as the favorite and were ranked first in every Class B coaches poll and won nine of 11 races leading up to the state meet. However, it was evident not everyone was at full strength. “We had runners battling sickness and were nicked up,’ said Jansen. “We really didn’t know how we were going to respond.”
How about like champions.
Six for six for Yoder
There was doubt whether senior Dylan Yoder was going to even run in his final race. Last week, Yoder was quite ill, battling a fever which forced him to go to the emergency room.
“The doctor told me not to run,’ Yoder said following the race, but I wasn’t going to miss my last race.”
Yoder turned in a gusty effort, finishing ninth and earning all-state honors for an impressive sixth straight year, a goal he set after his seventh grade season. During his career, Dylan placed 17th, 13th, 2nd, 13th, 11th and ninth at the state meet.
“I’m relieved it’s over,’ Yoder said.
Dylan felt pretty good for much of the 5,000 meter race, but was clearly laboring over the last 200 meters. “My lungs were hurting, it was hard to breathe,’ he said.
However, that pain was quickly erased knowing his team had won a state title.
Rugby coach Bill Jansen was happy that Yoder was able to compete and achieve a goal that is quite rare in the sport. And also be part of a state championship team in pursuit of that goal.
Jansen is coach of the year
Jansen said it was nice to win the school’s first-ever CC title in his hometown where his late father Bill, earned the reputation of building dominant and successful cross country and track programs.
“It was kind of cool,’ said Jansen, who was named Class B boys coach of the year. “My mom was there. It was special for me.”
With the prospects of three all-state runners returning and four of its top six placers at the state meet, the Panthers will have a serious shot of defending its title.
For now, the program will take a much-deserved break to relish in its accomplishment.
Boys Meet Notes: Rugby’s team received an escort down Main Avenue and to the school from the Rugby Fire Department when it arrived home…The five all-state runners is a program record…Rugby’s boys team has now finished fifth or better at the state meet in each of the past five seasons…Seven of the top 10 finishers in the boys division were from the East Region…Justin Many Ribs, New Town, was named senior boys athlete of the year.