Lady Panthers are state champions
The Rugby Girls earned a Class B Track and Field State Championship on Saturday, May 28. Rugby was out in full force with horns and sirens welcoming the team home. This is the girls second state championship in track and field in the past four years.
Last year it was the boys bringing home the state title, this year it is the girls. The boys team tied for fourth place with Harvey-Wells County.
The Rugby Lady Panthers achieved the championship title with a score of 65. They were followed by Velva-Drake-Anamoose at 61 points, Langdon-Munich with 52, Napoleon and Carrington tied for fourth at 43 each, concluding the top five.
State competition is not without some frustration. Competing against some of the best athletes in the state is challenging enough without adding to the woes. A glitch happened during Friday’s competition when Crystal Hovland, one of the best hurdlers in the state, made a false start in the 100 M hurdles eliminating her from that event.
“She’s been the best hurdler all year,” said Rugby Girls Coach Bill Jansen. “I don’t remember her ever having a false start in her high school career.”
He added that Hovland, being a team player, was really frustrated with herself that she lost team points. It is just one of those glitches that can happen at state, according to the coach. He told both the boys and girls to remember the good things and forget about the bad stuff.
“I told Crystal to show them what she could do in the other events,” said Jansen. “She came back with a really good attitude on Saturday and she succeeded.”
Hovland came back with a vengeance in the 300 hurdles and took the state title. She was also a member of the 4×200 relay team, along with Aubrey Hovland, Rachel Hoffert, and Emily Stier, that took the championship in that event. The 4×400 relay team with Crystal Hovland, Rachel Hoffert, Shanaya Fred and Emily Stier took third place at state.
“Our team isn’t just one kid,” said Jansen. “Lots of others do a lot of other things.”
“Rachel Hoffert is a kid I could put in any of the relays,” said Jansen. “She is going to be tough to replace.”
Jansen said he was very proud of graduating senior Molly Koenig who qualified for state three years in a row and finished 7th place in the shot put this year. She made it to the podium where the first eight places stand.
Sydney Kraft, who has been an outstanding relay runner all the way through her career, will be a senior next year. She received a second place in the 1600 M run, third place in the 3200 M run and seventh place in the 800 M run. Three Rugby girls qualified for state in the 3200 M run and all three placed. Kraft took third, Lauren Christenson took 6th and Chandra Yankton, placed 7th.
Six of the fifteen who qualified for state included one seventh grader and five eighth graders which bodes well for the future of the team. Emily Stier has proven that she can handle state pressure very well. The eighth grader not only was a member of the 4×200 relay team that won the championship, she was a member of the 4×400 relay team that took 3rd place and the 4×100 relay team that also finished 3rd.
“Emily Stier accomplished what we thought she could do,” said Coach Jansen. ” She is a great anchor.”
The 4×800 relay with team members Hannah Christenson, Lauren Christenson, Chandra Yankton and Sydney Kraft placed 7th in the state.
Yankton has struggled with health issues this season and has not been able to participate in some of the meets. The coach is proud of her for not giving up.
“Emily Paul (who qualified for state in the triple jump) has a lot of potential,” said Jansen. “She took a year off and came back and made it to state. Next year, we need her.”
Aubrey Hovland, who will be a junior next year, achieved state runner-up in the high jump with a jump of 5’2″. She missed being the champion by 2″ when Taylor Brown of Cavalier jumped 5’4″. Brown was back at state defending her last year’s state title. Aubrey, along with her teammates on the 4×200 relay, brought home a state championship. She was also a member of the 4×100 M relay that brought home a third place finish. Next year she will go it alone, as her sister, Crystal graduated this year.
Another sister team is freshman Hannah Christenson and her younger sister, 7th grader Lauren Christenson. Both qualified for state. The two girls like to push each other forward and will cheer each other on. Both Hannah and Lauren participated as legs in the 4×800 M relay which took seventh place. Lauren earned a sixth place finish in the 3200 M run and participated in the 800 M run, although she didn’t place this year.
Another state qualifier Shanaya Fred was a member of the 4×100 and 4×400 relays which each took third place.
“Shanaya is a good sprinter,” said her coach. “I expect good things from her.”
“All these younger athletes will be big in our future,” said Coach Jansen. “They will need to step up to fill the gaps left by the graduating seniors.”
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