Panthers ready for regionals
The Rugby High School boys and girls cross country teams are down to their final two races of the season.
And after hitting the training path hard for most of the season, the Panthers have dialed back workouts in the hope of dialing up faster times.
“We’re just cutting down on our workouts a little bit,” head coach Bill Jansen said. “The intensity is still there, but the load is a little bit lighter in hopes that we’ll have fresher legs this weekend.”
The Panthers will compete at the East Regional Meet in Cooperstown on Saturday with races scheduled to start at 11 a.m.
In early September, the teams raced on the course and Jansen said they should be prepared to run fast times.
“We ran fairly well the last time we ran there,” he said. “Both of the courses we ran at the end of the year are flat ones. They’re more speed courses. We seem to run about equally well on either type of course. Our course and Larimore were hilly courses. The two we’re going to run on now are flat and faster and we’ve run on them both and run well. The course isn’t going to make any difference, it’s just going to be, are we ready and well.”
The Rugby girls team figures to contend for a top four finish at state and will see another team with high aspirations in Hillsboro/Central Valley this weekend.
“We were fairly close to Hillsboro (all season),” Jansen said. “It’d be nice to win it. If we could step up a little bit it’s not out of the realm of possibility. We’re in the area. We’ve come close and we’ve been beaten handily by Hillsboro. It depends on how we run that day.”
The Panthers wrapped up their regular season on Oct. 10 with a second-place finish in Cooperstown, finishing 14 points behind H/CV.
Allison Foster (10th), Tristin Lunde (12th) and Bailey Nelson (13th) all finished in the top 15.
Foster said those three will need to run as a pack near the front if Rugby is to challenge H/CV.
“They’ve been our competition for most of the year,” she said. “We need to stick with their girls in the front. I hope Tristin and Bailey are running with me. That’d be great. That’s our main goal.”
On the boys side, the Panthers will likely still be without Tanner Bernhardt, although Jansen said the junior will practice at the end of the week and make a decision depending on how those practices go.
“We don’t know if Tanner is going to run yet,” he said. “He’s going to come to practice and I’m not anticipating him running Saturday but he might.”
Nolan Hovland has been the boys’ top runner since Bernhardt’s injury, and placed seventh in the team’s last meet.
“I’d like to finish top 20,” Hovland said. “If the weather is nice, I should be able to. It’ll be nice (to run with fresher legs), I’ll probably have more energy.”
Weather conditions are expected to be cool, but Jansen said that should be ideal for his racers.
“This weekend it’s going to be low 40s and breezy,” he said. “I’d much rather have it that way than warm. At this time of year, you’re acclimated to the cool weather and it’s better for distance running as long as it isn’t ungodly cold.”
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