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Panther XC runners bring home awards, rank from state

By Staff | Nov 1, 2019

Panther girls cross country runner Quinn Neppl crosses the finish line with an all-state rank in last Saturday's State Class B Cross Country meet. Neppl finished sixth on the meet. Sue Sitter/PCT

The Rugby High School Panther cross country team wrapped up their season at the 2019 North Dakota Class B tournament at Minot’s Souris River Golf Course last Saturday with plenty of reasons to celebrate.

“You get ready for the season hoping that you have the talent on your team to be competitive,” reflected Panther Coach Bill Jansen, who was named 2019 Class B Girls’ Coach of the Year. The Panthers took first place in team points in the girls’ 5,000-meter event, with three all-state finishers.

“You get into the season and set team goals and work throughout the season to move towards meeting those goals. If you finish the season reaching or surpassing those goals, you have been a part of something special,” Jansen added.

Jansen described this year’s goals as “high and I would say at the region and state meet we met and surpassed them. We wanted to be the team that ended Hillsboro/Central Valley’s reign at the top of both the region and state meet, and we did both.”

Three Panthers placed in the top ten finish times for the girls’ 5,000-meter event.

Quinn Neppl, whose time of 19 minutes, 36 seconds earned her sixth place, told the Tribune she was happy with her performance in the race. “I think we did pretty good. As a team, I know for a fact we did really good,” Neppl said with a smile before official results confirmed her predictions.

Neppl, a sophomore, said she looked forward to returning to cross country next season.

“For sure I’m going to continue for my next two years,” Neppl said.

Neppl described her favorite part of cross country: “It’s definitely a team. I love how it’s a team sport, and you definitely can’t do it on your own. I have such good group of girls and boys who I work with every day, and I really enjoy that.”

The Panthers finished just outside the top ten in team points among 50 participating schools for the boys’ 5,000-meter event.

The 12th place team had three finishers in the top 15 percent of the more than 300 runners in the boys’ event.

Top Rugby finisher Dawson Schepp, whose 17:58 time earned him 33rd place among all runners, said after the event, “Well, I didn’t run my best time. I finished hard, so that’s all that matters.”

The senior said of future plans, “I might run in college; might not. I’m not sure yet.”

“I’ve always had pretty good teammates,” Shepp noted. “It was always fun to go to practice and run hard, and show up to meets and just do your best.”

“I like the team,” agreed sophomore Riley Odden, who finished in the top five Rugby times with 20:21 in 162nd place.

“I’m going to stay in (cross country) two more years,” he added.

In addition to Quinn Neppl, Brooklyn Bartsch finished the girls’ 5,000-meter event with an all-state rank and an eighth place time of 19:46, while Amelia Shepard finished with an all-state rank and ninth place time of 19:47.

Other Panther finishers and times for the event were: Ella Jacobson, 26th place, 20:50; Kelly Arnston, 29th place, 21:00; Mykell Heidlebaugh, 34th place, 21:15; Ellie Duchscherer, 37th place, 21:22; Kendyl Hager, 51st place, 21:47; Mikaylee Livedalen, 60th place, 22:03 and Joey Wolf, 64th place, 22:12.

Other Panther finishers and times in the boys’ 5,000-meter event were:

Austin Dibble, 39th place, 18:02; Kadin Neppl, 51st place, 18:19; Robert Dibble, 118th place, 19:22; Kristian Fritz, 204th place, 21:22; Connor Klein, 227th place, 22:02; Trenton Sanford, 258th place, 23:10 and Ethan Sveet, 277th place, 23:46.

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