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Panthers runners showing consistency

By Staff | Oct 4, 2013

Submitted photos Rugby’s Tristin Lunde (left) and Bailey Nelson race side-by-side during Four Winds Invitational on Sept. 28.

The runners on the Rugby High School girls cross country team are showing great consistency, which Panthers head coach Bill Jansen says a key step to maintaining one of the top spots in the state.

Rugby ran in a pair of races last week, competing at Four Winds and Larimore over the course of three days.

Rugby won the Larimore Polar Bear Invite with 56 points and took the Four Winds Invite with 59 points.

Those scores were due in large part to the runners finishing in nearly the same spots in each race.

Allison Foster placed sixth at Larimore and seventh at Four Winds. Tristin Lunde, Bailey Nelson and Emily Salwey provided carbon copy finishes in both races.

Submitted Photo The Rugby girls runners get off to a quick start at the Four Winds Invitational, where they placed first with a total of 56 points.

Lunde placed 9th, Nelson 10th and Sawey 15th in each race.

“On the girls side, our races have been pretty consistent,” Jansen said. “Our top group is bunching together a little bit better. That’s always a good thing. If we can get our top 5-6-7 runners closer together, that would be great. Right now we don’t have a big No. 1. We don’t have anyone who’s going to be top 5 or even top 10 in state. We have kids that are in the 10-20 range and we could get a number of them there. I feel really good about the girls.”

Karin Selland, the team’s fifth runner, was nearly as consistent, placing 18th at Four Winds and 16th at Larimore.

Jansen was also pleased that Jessica Blessum, who placed 29th at Four Winds and Lauren Christenson, who placed 31st at Larimore, were able to compete after being hampered with injuries.

“We have not quite a month before state,” he said. “We need to get into whatever shape we can get and still stay healthy.”

Although the Panthers don’t have a runner who has consistently finished in the top 5 in competitive races, Jansen believes as the season winds down, many of his runners can put themselves in that position.

“Our top 3 are really pretty close now,” he said. “Tristin and Bailey were really close to Allison and she’s not slowing down. Her races have been consistent. We’ve been training pretty hard and haven’t backed off much and we’re on dead legs most of the time. I’m hoping when we lighten up at the end of the year, we’re going to be able to make a jump.”

On the boys side, Nolan Hovland posted a sub-19 minute time at Four Winds and placed fifth. Both Brady Fossum (17th at Four Winds) and John Mueller (19th at Larimore) also had solid finishes.

Unfortunately the Panthers suffered a loss when Tanner Bernhardt suffered a leg injury during Rugby’s football game on Sept. 28.

“Tanner getting hurt, who knows what’s going to happen with him,” Jansen said. “Walking isn’t a problem but he tried to run and it didn’t go that well. It’s going to take a couple weeks to rest it and do some non-weight bearing stuff. Who knows if he’ll run another race this year or not.”

Rugby’s runners will have a chance to race against some of the state’s best when they host the Panther Invite on Oct. 5 at the Rugby Golf Course.

The meet starts at 11 a.m. with elementary and junior high races. The varsity races are expected to start at noon or shortly after.

“I think we’ve got in the neighborhood of 25 to 28 teams,” Jansen said. “We have a decent mix of east and west. Most of the east teams are coming and then Killdeer, Watford City, Beulah/Hazen, New Town will be here. We’ve got some of the quality west teams.”

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