Another high finish for Rugby girls
A third place finish may seem like a disappointment on the heels of a Class B state championship a year ago.
Quite the contrary, for Rugby’s girls track program.
The Panthers accepted their third place trophy with pride on May 29 at the Bismarck Community Bowl.
“Our kids performed well,’ said Bill Jansen, Rugby girls head coach. “To finish in that top three and continue this run of strong showings at state is impressive.”
It marked the fourth year in a row Rugby has finished third or better at the state meet and further cemented the program’s place among the best in the state.
Rugby placed in 10 events and boasted a state champion in junior Crystal Hovland in the 300 meter hurdles. Hovland, who finished runner-up in the event a season ago to teammate Ashley Salwey, won it in a time of :45.83.
“Definitely that was my goal going into the meet,’ Hovland said. “Actually, I ran better during prelims than the finals, but I guess part of that was just being a little tired.”
Crystal had the lead at the turn and said the final 100 meters was a challenge, forced to run against the wind. “I was pretty tired at the end, but also happy.”
All eyes were on Crystal throughout the spring and many top sprinters were gunning for her. “She handled that pressure well and ended the year where she wanted to be,’ Jansen said.
Hovland also placed seventh in the 100 meter hurdles, but it wasn’t the finish she was hoping for. “The 100 is always a struggle for me,’ she admits. “It’s an event where you have to have a specific technique and that’s a challenge for me.”
Crystal also ran the final leg of Rugby’s 1600 meter relay, which was third.
Sophomore Sydney Kraft was also a key point producer for the Panthers. She placed fourth in both the 1600 and 3200 meters and was sixth in the 800 meters. She also ran a leg of Rugby’s 1600 meter relay.
“I was hoping I could have finished a little better in the 800,’ Kraft said. “My goal was to place in those events again and I did.”
Sydney scored the most team points with 14.5. “Actually, when you look at where we finished, those were big points in terms of getting into that top three,’ Jansen said.
Senior Stephanie Friestad placed third in the long and fourth in the triple jump. She competed in the pole vault as well, but did not clear an opening height.
“I was both happy and proud for her,’ Jansen said. “Last year she wasn’t able to qualify, she came up just short, and for her to come back and place in both the long and triple jump was just great,’ he said.
That fulfilled a goal for the senior, who was one of five sisters to compete for the Panthers in the jump events. She goes out a two-event placewinner.
Freshman Aubrey Hovland placed in the high jump for a second straight year. Hovland was third with a personal best jump of 5-3.
Hovland cleared that height early in her jumps. “I was happy with my form and how I was jumping,’ Hovland said. “Going into the event I was hoping for a fourth or fifth place finish, but third is better.”
The team also placed third in the 1600 meter relay and fourth in the 400 relay.
If there was one disappointing moment, it came in the 800 meter relay. The squad was unable to make a baton exchange and were disqualified. “That was a tough break, but those things happen,’ Jansen said.
A handful of others competed in events but did not place. They included: Paige Haman (javelin); Molly Koenig (shot put); Rachel Hoffert (100).
Benson County won the meet with 74 points and Hazen was second with 65.