Panthers place fifth at Northwood
All of the girls Class B cross country teams in the state know who they are chasing.
Hillsboro/Central Valley returned its full roster of runners from a state championship team last fall.
But the Rugby girls team found out last weekend in Northwood that they aren’t too far behind.
The Panthers finished fifth at the Hatton/Northwood/Thompson “Thunder” Invitational, one spot and just 21 points behind fourth-place H-CV.
Class A teams claimed the top 3 spots.
Panthers’ head coach Bill Jansen was optimistic after seeing how his team stacked up in the first action of the year against the defending state champ.
“Team-wise, the girls saw Hillsboro, and really, other than the fact we’re a little thin right now, we’re only about 5 or 6 deep, we’re right there,” he said. “We’re pretty competitive with them if we run well. That was a really nice thing to see.”
Allison Foster (20th) and Tristin Lunde (25th) were the top two individual finishers for the Panthers.
“Allison had a really nice race and Tristin had a nice race,” Jansen said. “They both ran very well.”
Hannah Christenson was 32nd overall, just off the pace set by her two teammates.
Jansen said he received a pleasant surprise from Karin Selland, who finished 38th overall in her first year of cross country.
“Karin Selland, in her first race of the year, finished as our fourth runner,” he said. “That was good to see. If we can get a little deeper and stay healthy with what we’ve got right now, (we may be able to compete). We have four seventh graders, and by the end of the year, maybe some of them are helping us.”
Foster has been the top runner for the Panthers early this season, and Jansen said with a few improvements, can be among the best in the state.
“We’ve been talking about really working on the finish,” he said. “She’s getting out in races really nice but she has to be able to finish. The better ones, you have to get after it at the end to beat some of those guys.”
On the boys side, the Panthers placed sixth with 156 points, but were behind four Class A schools.
“On the boys side, we were the second Class B school,” Jansen said. “Talking with the boys, it’s a work in progress. They can see we’re not so far off of doing a little better than we thought we could do, maybe get into that top 5. It’s going to take those other 5-6 kids to really believe that and get their times down.”
Tanner Bernhardt was the team’s top runner, finishing in 19th place with a time of 19 minutes, 6 seconds.
“Tanner is running really well,” Jansen said. “He had a nice race. He was the second Class B boy and he beat some kids that beat him last week. I honestly put him in the top 10 when I vote in the poll. I’m not sure where he stacks up, it’s kind of early, but he’s beat some kids that have been in there.”
The Panthers travel to Cooperstown for a meet on Saturday, Sept. 7.
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