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Rugby Panther girls repeat state cross country win

By Sue Sitter - | Oct 31, 2020

Sue Sitter/PCT Rugby Panther fans give a bus carrying the 2020 cross country teams a sendoff as they leave for state in Cooperstown Saturday, Oct. 24.

The Rugby High Panthers left town the morning of Saturday, Oct. 24, for the North Dakota High School Athletic Association Class B meet in Cooperstown with a regional title, a number one-ranked runner and hope for a repeat of their 2019 girls’ state cross-country win.

They came back that evening with four all-state runners, a fire truck escort and the 2020 girls’ state title. One jubilant resident set off a few fireworks as a tribute.

“It’s always fun to come home and have an escort by the fire department,” said Jen Bartsch, Panthers assistant coach and mom to Rugby’s top finisher in the girls’ 5000-meter event, Brooklyn Bartsch.

“It’s what our community does for our state champions. It’s a cool thing,” Bartsch added. “It makes the kids excited and they feel like the community supports them. It’s always fun to come home that way.”

The Panthers began their season with high hopes and a few doubts about the future. “We were ranked number one from the beginning of the season, I believe,” Bartsch said.

“Just to be able to run at state this year, just to be able to make it this far in the season was a big deal,” she added, referring to spring, when a global pandemic put an end to state tournament hopes for Panther basketball players.

“Everybody stayed healthy,” she added.“We didn’t have any quarantines late in the year and nothing affected us getting our kids to state to run. That was the biggest deal, I would say.”

Bartsch described coaching her daughter, who held the number one spot in state coaches’ polls toward the end of the season as “really fun. It was challenging at times, but pretty special to get to coach her.”

“Brooklyn was ranked number one toward the end of the year. At the beginning of the season, she was ranked fifth or sixth. I can’t remember. Then, she was running really, really strong toward the end of the year, and that was exciting, but also a pressure situation,” Bartsch said.

“I told her we just live in the moment each day. It was fun. She had so many great races this year.”

Bartsch called Brooklyn “One of our doublers. She plays on the volleyball team as well. She loves volleyball, but I hope she’s continuing her cross-country career until she graduates.”

Brooklyn Bartsch said her third-place finish among about 250 runners at state “feels pretty good. I think my time was pretty good, but it could’ve been better.”

“Her finish time was 19:28,” Jen Bartsch said. “She didn’t PR (see a personal best time) today, but anything mid-nineteens is pretty fantastic. She did a good job.”

Brooklyn said she thought her improved times and rise in state ranks came from focusing more on running. “At the beginning of the year, I had volleyball, so I would just run laps around the school, but at the end, I didn’t have volleyball, so I actually went to practices with my team. That might have helped.”

“I plan to keep going in sports,” the Rugby High freshman added. “I haven’t thought about college yet, though,” she added.

Jennifer Bartsch said three Panthers finished with all-state times in the girls’ 5000-meter race. Sophomore Austin Dibble finished with an all-state time in the boys’ 5000-meter event.

“All-state runners are the runners who finish in the top 20 in the state,” she said. “We had Quinn Neppl, she came in 19th; Hannah Senechal came in 13th, then Brooklyn came in third. So we had three all-state (girls). That’s a pretty big award for those girls at the state meet.”

Dibble finished in 19th place among more than 250 runners, with the Panther boys finishing 14th overall among 47 teams participating.

The Panther girls’ repeat victory interrupted near-decade winning streaks held by Hillsboro/Central Valley and Bowman County since the 1970s.

“Hillsboro had eight or nine in a row,” Bartsch said of the Burros’ 2011-2019 reign. “Prior to that, we had taken the state title before that long run they had. Now, we’ve had two years in a row where we’ve won. Last year it was a pretty big deal to get our first state title after Hillsboro had gone on such a long run. This year, to have a repeat was a big deal, too.”

“Hopefully, we can do it again next year. We’ve definitely got potential. The team is young and strong, so I’m excited. Really excited,” Bartsch added.

Rugby’s Bill Jansen, named Girls’ Class B Coach of the Year for a second year in a row, wrote in an email, “I am very pleased with the way all of our kids worked their way through this season. Their results at the end are proof of their hard work and dedication.”

“We are very proud to be the first girls’ team at Rugby High School to win consecutive state titles and we are excited about the future,” Jansen added.

2020 North Dakota Athletic Association Class B Cross Country Meet all-state results:

Rugby Girls’ 5000-Meter individual ranks/times: Brooklyn Bartsch, third place, 19:28 (All-State); Hannah Senechal, 13th place, 20:20 (All-State); Quinn Neppl, 19th place, 20:29 (All-State); Amelia Shepard, 22nd place, 20:30; Ella Jacobson, 23rd place, 20:31; Sarah Schmaltz, 32nd place, 21:16; Kendyl Hager, 49th place, 21:54.

Rugby Girls’ 5000-Meter Results: Rugby, first place; 80 pts.; Hillsboro/Central Valley, second place, 134 pts.; Bowman County, third place, 155 pts.; Kindred, fourth place, 224 pts.; Grafton, fifth place, 235 pts.; May-Port/CG, sixth place, 287 pts.; Sargent, seventh place, 300 pts.; Kildeer, eighth place, 318 pts.; Hatton-Northwood-Larimore, ninth place, 343 points; Carrington, 10th place, 354 points; Central Cass, 11th place, 359 points; Des Lacs-Burlington, 12th place, 375 pts.; Stanley, 13th place, 411 pts.; Thompson, 14th place, 422 pts.; Pembina County North, 15th place, 426 pts.; Southern McClean, 16th place, 430 pts.; Lisbon, 17th place, 447 pts.; Northern Cass, 18th place, 495 pts.; Hettinger, 19th place, 515 pts.; Shiloh Christian, 20th place, 545 pts.; Max-South Prairie, 21st place, 553 pts.; Edgeley Kulm, 22nd place, 598 pts; New Town, 23rd place, 604 pts.; Langdon, 24th place, 642 pts.; Beulah-Hazen, 25th place, 653 pts.; New Rockford-Sheyenne, 26th place, 710 pts.; Harvey/Wells County, 27th place, 770 pts.; Bishop Ryan, 28th place, 774 pts.; Surrey, 29th place, 825 pts.; Standing Rock, 30th place, 838 pts.; Barnes County North, 31st place, 839 pts.; Enderlin, 32nd place, 843 pts.; Minto, 33rd place, 861 pts.; Velva, 34th place, 866 pts.; Ellendale, 35th place, 886 pts.; Williston Trinity, 36th place, 932 pts.; Griggs-Midkota, 37th place, 936 pts.; Dunseith, 38th place, 938 pts.; Burke Central/Kenmare, 39th place, 958 pts.; Parshall, 40th place, 959 pts.; White Shield, 41st place, 962 pts.; Lamoure-Litchville/Marion, 42nd place, 982 pts.; Garrison, 43rd place, 983 pts.; New England, 44th place 991 pts.; Four Winds/Minnewauken, 45th place, 1027 pts.; Medina-Pingree-Buchanan, 46th place, 1035 pts.; Bowbells, 47th place, 1044 pts.

Rugby Boys’ 5000-Meter Results: Austin Dibble, 19th place 17:30 (All-State); Robert Dibble, 79th place, 19:30; Jenner Johnson, 92nd place, 19:50; Andrew Duchscher, 111th place, 20:59; Riley Odden, 142nd place, 20:52; Maddex Kirchofner, 155th place, 21:21; Kristian Fritz, 182nd place, 22:06.

Boys’ team results: Bowman County, first place, 56 pts.; Hillsboro/Central Valley second place, 101 pts.; Griggs-Midkota, third place, 134 pts.; Stanley, fourth place, 176 pts.; Kindred, fifth place, 188 pts.; Kildeer, sixth place, 225 pts.; Grafton, seventh place, 238 pts.; Beulah-Hazen, eighth place, 302 pts.; May-Port CG, ninth place, 400 pts.; Southern McClean, 10th place, 417 pts.; Bishop Ryan, 11th place, 419 pts.; Lisbon, 12th place, 434 pts.; Burke Central/Kenmare, 13th place, 434 pts.; Rugby, 14th place, 443 pts.; Central Cass, 15th place, 446 pts.; Surrey, 16th place, 479 pts.; Max-South Prairie, 17th place, 513 pts.; New Town, 18th place, 530 pts.; Langdon, 19th place, 539 pts.; Shiloh Christian, 20th place, 567 pts.; Thompson, 21st place, 567 pts.; Enderlin, 22nd place, 621 pts.; Hatton-Northwood-Larimore, 23rd place, 687 pts.; Ellendale, 24th place, 707 pts.; Williston Trinity, 25th place, 724 pts.; Pembina County North, 26th place, 775 pts.; Edgeley Kulm, 27th place, 788 pts.; Velva, 28th place, 789 pts.; Des Lacs-Burlington, 29th place, 799 pts.; Carrington, 30th place, 844 pts.; Sargent, 31st place, 846 pts.; Standing Rock, 32nd place, 854 pts.; Four Winds/Minnewauken, 33rd place, 887; Dunseith, 34th place, 913 pts.; Hettinger, 35th place, 913 pts.; Bowbells, 36th place, 951 pts.; Northern Cass, 37th place, 970 pts.; New England, 38th place, 974 pts.; Richland Dist. #44, 39th place, 1001 pts.; White Shield, 40th place, 1002 pts.; Hebron, 41st place, 1011 pts.; Rollla, 42nd place, 1079 pts.; Garrison, 43rd place, 1100 pts.; Minto, 44th place, 1110 pts.; Harvey/Wells County, 45th place, 1112 pts.; LaMoure-Litchville/Marion, 46th place, 1148 pts.; Barnes County North, 47th place, 1172 pts.

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