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Rugby girls look for another top finish

By Staff | Apr 5, 2013

The Rugby High School track and field team has earned state titles in the last two odd years: 2009 and 2011.

Will 2013 be the next title for the Panthers?

Despite graduating some solid contributors, including 1,600-meter state champion Sydney Kraft, head coach Bill Jansen believes his team will still be among the best in the state.

That team starts with its distance runners, a traditional strength. Returner Lauren Christenson placed in both the 1,600 and 3,200 last year.

“Coming into the year, if you looked at it, even with the loss of Sydney, I think our distance kids are going to be a strength,” Jansen said. “We finished second in cross country this year, we’ve got some good depth there.”

Rugby also returns a state champion in Aubrey Hovland, who won the high jump with a leap of five feet, six inches. Hovland also placed in the triple jump.

“With Aubrey we have a state champion coming back in the high jump,” Jansen said. “I think our jumps are going to be decent. We’re going to look for some depth there.”

Mattie Schmitt also returns after qualifying for state in both the discus and javelin.

“She comes back in the throws and I think we have some good throwers, and I think by the end of the year we could have 2 or 3 qualifying in those events,” he said.

Emily Stier will lead the sprint crews and Jansen said if she can have a healthy season, she will improve on last year’s marks.

“That’s always up in the air,” Jansen said. “Hopefully we’ve got enough people to put together some decent relays. I think we should be able to.”

Depth will also be a strength for the Panthers, and Jansen is optimistic.

“We’ve got a lot of kids out,” he said. “If you look at the roster, I think there’s over 50 in grades 7-12. That’s (considered) good numbers.”

Aside from the two state championships, Rugby has fielded a pair of top 4 teams in the even years over the past four years.

That will once again be the goal.

“I think in the stage we’re at, we’re always looking to win the region,” Jansen said. “That’s always a goal. We always go into the year wanting to get on the stand at state. Being in the top 5 for sure. I think we have the capability by the end of the year to be there. Who knows? We’ll have to get into the season and see what we have and see what other teams have to know for sure.”

Jansen pointed to defending state champion Carrington, and Kindred, which tied for fifth last season, as two of the teams to beat this year.

“Our goals are set,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll win the region and hopefully we’ll be on the stand at state, hopefully high (on the stand).”

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