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Panther cross country stays in Class B lead

By Sue Sitter - | Sep 5, 2020

Sue Sitter/PCT Brooklyn Bartsch (front, right) and Ameila Shepard cross the finish line at the Velva Invitational meet in Velva. Bartsch placed first and Shepard placed second in the varsity girls’ 5,000-meter event.

The Rugby High Panthers stayed ahead of the pack in last week’s North Dakota Class B coaches’ poll and kept its top spot secure with a win over 10 other teams in the Velva Invitational Meet at Star City Golf Course in Velva Aug. 27.

The number-one ranked Panther varsity girls’ squad dominated the top five times in its 5,000-meter race as Brooklyn Bartsch and Amelia Shepard finished first and second, respectively. Quinn Neppl took third place in the race, and Ella Jacobson finished fifth.

First place in the boys’ 5,000-meter event went to Panther Austin Dibble.

The wins at Velva come on the heels of a first-place finish among girls’ varsity teams at last week’s Early Bird Invitational in Hillsboro. The Panther boys’ squad finished in sixth place among 15 teams in Hillsboro.

The Panther varsity boys’ team points in the Velva Invitational earned them fourth place for that meet.

Sue Sitter/PCT Austin Dibble finishes first in the Velva Invitational varsity boys’ 5,000-meter event.

Dibble said his win in Velva “feels pretty good. It’s my first varsity win for cross country.”

Dibble said before his win in Velva, “I was getting fourth, third, second place sometimes. It just feels good to finally break through to first place.”

Bartsch said she felt happy with her first-place win.

“I feel good. Tired,” she said. “Hillsboro felt way hotter than today, but it was still really warm for running here.”

Bartsch said she “didn’t do anything different at practice” to prepare for the Velva meet. “We pretty much did the same thing as always.”

Shepard, who had finished 14th in Hillsboro, said her second place Velva finish may have been due to a flatter course and better weather.

“I think it was because it was cooler here,” she said.

Although she seemed unsure of what she did to finish better in Velva, Shepard said, “I probably just practiced more.”

Shepard said she hoped to finish among the top times in future races, “but it depends on what it’s like that day and how cool it is.”

Panther coach Bill Jansen said, “We got a chance to see teams from another section of the state, which is always good. We had individual race champions in both the varsity girls and varsity boys’ divisions which is always exciting. And both the JH/JV Girls and Varsity Girls won their races as a team, so it was a very productive day.”

The Panther junior varsity girls finished in first place as a team for its 3,000-meter race. The Panther junior varsity boys finished in fifth place for its 3,000-meter event.

Rugby results for the Velva Invitational were:

Varsity Girls (Overall team finish 21 points, first place): Brooklyn Bartsch, first place, 21:49; Amelia Shepard, second place, 21:51; Quinn Neppl, third place, 22:42; Ella Jacobson, fifth place, 23:39; Kendyl Hager, 10th place, 24:07; Joey Wolf, 14th place, 24:36; Jaclyn Duchscher, 15th place, 24:38; Kinsey Arnston, 16th place, 24:48; Mikaylee Livedalen, 17th place, 24:52; Rylie Suchor, 18th place, 25:24; Ashlyn Dibble, 26:22.

Varsity Boys (Overall team finish 92 points, fourth place): Austin Dibble, first place, 19:22; Robert Dibble, 14th place, 21:01; Riley Odden, 22nd place, 22:08; Connor Klein, 26th place, 22:37; Kristian Fritz, 29th place, 23:09; Andrew Duchscher, 30th place, 23:14.

JV Girls (Overall team finish 34 points, first place): Hannah Senechal, third place, 13:45; Sara Schmaltz, fourth place, 13:50; Rylah Hager, eighth place, 14:45; Mya Geisinger, ninth place, 14:53; Brooklyn Hager, 10th place, 14:54; Haley Mayer, 11th place, 14:58; Jesse Wolf, 12th place, 15:05; Mya McNeff, 13th place, 15:08; Jaelyn Lunde, 14th place, 15:09; Sophie Oppen, 19th place, 15:57; Reese Gullickson, 23rd place, 16:30; Quinn Walker, 25th place, 17:13; Ava Wurgler, 26th place, 17:52.

JV Boys (Overall team finish 114 points, fifth place): Jenner Johnson, seventh place, 13:04; Maddex Kirchofner, 14th place, 14:03; Wyatt Oppen, 24th place, 15:19.

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