RHS teams among top in state
The Rugby High School cross country teams waited for much of the season for a chance to compete against the top Class B teams in the western part of the state.
The Panthers answered with strong performances against the best from across North Dakota at the Minot Souris Valley Invite on Oct. 4 at Souris Valley Golf Course.
The boys took third out of 28 teams with 153 points. New Town solidified its place as a heavy favorite to win state with first-place mark of 34. Beulah-Hazen edged the Panthers by just 18 points.
“Now they understand the polling has been spot on,” RHS coach Bill Jansen said, “and hopefully we can have a better race at state. On the flip side, we saw some teams right on our tail.”
With the state meet two weeks from today, Rugby took the No. 3 ranking into the weekend. New Town and Beulah-Hazen were voted top two, in that order, and Bowman County and Hillsboro-Central Valley are ranked No. 4 and No. 5. The top five in Minot matches the top five in the coaches poll.
Jansen is optimistic that his team can take runner-up in state, if the boys remain healthy. Varsity scorer John Mueller didn’t compete in Minot following an appendectomy the day before.
“It’ll be interesting to see now, but hopefully by the end of this week he’ll be back running,” Jansen said.
The Panthers ran tough without one of their regulars as senior Tanner Bernhardt led the way with a seventh-place finish in the 5K (3.1 miles). Bernhardt finished in 17 minutes, 32 seconds, within five seconds of two runners in front of him.
Jansen said senior Nolan Hovland thinks he can run faster after placing 16th in 18:19. The third RHS finisher was senior Brady Fossum at 19:21, good for 38th out of 145 runners.
“This last race was definitely my best race so far,” Fossum said. “I have room for improvement. These last couple of weeks are very important with the cold. I?think we’re training as hard, if not more, than other teams.”
Noah Kraft (19:28) and Gabe Clements (19:37) rounded out RHS scoring.
“The people after me can definitely get better times,” Fossum said. “Noah can runner better than he did, I think, and the guys after.”
The RHS?girls held their position as one of the top two teams in the East Region behind Hillsboro-Central Valley, which won the meet with 56 points. The other six teams ahead of RHS?at the meet were West Region opponents. Shiloh Christian and Southern McLean took second and third, respectively, at 111 and 143.
RHS was eighth with 223. Tristin Lunde led the Panthers with a 4K (2.58 miles) time of 16:38, four seconds ahead of teammate Allison Foster. Lunde was 19th overall out of 147 runenrs and two places ahead of Foster.
“It was pretty good overall,” Lunde said. “It was an interesting course because we never ran it before.”
Lunde said she was challenged by a steep incline midway through, but felt the team received good prepartion for the state meet at the same location.
“I think, overall, we did pretty good,” Lunde said. “At state, we want to do a little better and hopefully we can reach that goal.”
Jansen is still looking for improvement from all his girls, but especially at the third, fourth and fifth positions.
“Our 1 and 2 girls are doing what they need to do,” he said. “Our 3, 4 and 5 girls know where they have to be.”
The RHS teams raced Thursday at the Cooperstown Bible Camp before having this weekend off. The West Region competes this weekend, and RHS runs again next weekend in the East Region meet at the Cooperstown Golf Course. The state meet is Oct. 25 in Minot.
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