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Panthers cross-country teams top A, B schools at Bill Jansen Blue/White

By Sue Sitter - | Sep 25, 2021

Rugby’s Panthers cross-country team traveled to a meet in Valley City that has special significance to Coach Bill Jansen Sept. 18.

The Blue and White Bill Jansen Invitational bears the name of Jansen’s father, a legendary North Dakota class A coach whose name is legend both in Valley City and in the world of high school athletics.

The elder Jansen, who passed away from leukemia in 2003, coached high school track and field and cross-country for 43 years, starting his career in Tuttle and ending with the Valley City Hi-Liners. In that time, Jansen’s teams won eight state titles. The National High School Athletic Coaches Association named him Girls’ Track and Field Coach of the Year in 1979.

Jansen’s son, Bill, continues the tradition. He begins his 38th year of coaching with the 2021 season and has coached the Panthers to back-to-back girls’ cross-country state B titles in 2019 and 2020. He traveled to Nebraska last summer to receive the National High School Athletic Coaches Association award for Girls’ Track and Field Coach of the Year, the same award his father had received.

“It is always special for me to have our team run in Valley City,” Jansen said in an email after returning from the meet.

Jansen said the class B Panthers have been sharpening their skills on a variety of courses all season, running against A and B schools at several meets.

And the Panthers have consistently finished at the top.

“B and A schools run together quite a bit, the exception being last year when the A schools not only didn’t participate with B but didn’t cross east and west (boundaries) until the state meet because of COVID,” Jansen said.

Jansen added the races in Valley City “were bigger, which is important moving forward to the region and state meets which are both large races.” Jansen said the races were larger in their number of participants.

“Grand Forks Red River was ranked 4th in last week’s state coaches’ poll in class A girls and we were a close 2nd to them at the meet, so I was happy with the way we competed at that level, but there is still room for improvement. It is important for us to stay healthy and injury free and continue to get stronger.”

Rugby High’s girls’ cross-country team has held the number one spot among class B schools since the first poll was released in the preseason.

The Panthers would travel next to Jamestown Sept. 25. Results from that meet will appear in the Oct. 2 Tribune. After the Jamestown meet, the Panthers will compete closer to home in Harvey Sept. 28, then return to their home course in Rugby Oct. 2. “We want to run well in front of our home crowd,” Jansen said.

Results for the Bill Jansen Blue/White Invitational are:

Girls’ varsity 5000-meters: Amelia Shepard, fourth place, 20:12; Brooklyn Bartsch, eighth place, 20:42; Hannah Senechal, 13th place, 21:03; Evyn Jacobson, 27th place, 21:56; Ashlyn Dibble, 31st place, 22:19; Quinn Neppl, 38th place, 22:28; Jaelyn Lunde, 43rd place, 22:40; Keyara Lundstrom, 50th place, 22:56; Kendyl Hager, 76th place, 24:08.

Boys’ varsity 5000-meters: Austin Dibble, 12th place, 17:49; Jenner Johnson, 46th place, 19:23; Connor Klein, 65th place, 20:41; Andrew Duchscher, 66th place, 20:52; Wyatt Oppen, 68th place, 20:57; Riley Odden, 79th place, 21:36; Maddex Kirchofner, 84th place, 22:06; Kristian Fritz, 87th place, 22:15.

Girls’ junior varsity 4000-meters: Sara Schmaltz, 14th place, 18:34; Kinsey Arnston, 17th place, 18:46; Mya McNeff, 35th place, 19:27; Jaclyn Duchscher, 37th place, 19:30; Jesse Wolf, 41st place, 19:41; Brooklyn Hager, 55th place, 20:16; Sophie Oppen, 58th place, 20:22; Ava Wurgler, 66th place, 21:10; Rylie Suchor, 73rd place, 21:43; Haylee Jundt, 100th place, 24:49. Boys’ junior varsity 4000-meters: Brayden Green, 36th place, 17:00; Ben Sullivan, 39th place, 17:05; Austin Duchscher, 58th place, 17:59; Jaxon Heilman, 88th place, 19:47; Kiefer Fritz, 90th place, 20:04; Kale Deatherage, 95th place, 20:46.

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