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Panther cross country runners see good results on home course

By Sue Sitter - | Oct 9, 2021

Sue Sitter/PCT Panthers varsity runner Brooklyn Bartsch finishes third in the Rugby Booster Club Invitational at the Rugby Golf Course Oct. 2.

On Saturday, Oct. 2, Rugby Panthers cross country runners saw a few changes from the past two years at the 27th Annual Rugby Booster Club Invitational race, not the least of which was the weather.

“There was good weather today, and I enjoyed it,” Rugby’s top girls’ varsity runner Brooklyn Bartsch noted.

At the 2019 Rugby Booster Club Invitational, the Panthers ran on grass coated with a thin layer of wet snow. Most other years, they’ve dealt with a weather challenge of some sort.

“It was a beautiful day,” Panthers Head Coach Bill Jansen said. “We’ve had plenty of years where we’ve had snow and we’ve been setting up in the snow and the rain and the cold. That definitely is not this year. It was beautiful. We drove around yesterday setting up the course, I and (Assistant Coach Jennifer) Bartsch, and we were talking about how beautiful it was. We’re getting the cool days in the morning and then it heats up in the afternoon. We’ve been getting a lot of sunshine. That’s always nice, too.”

The crisp mornings and warm afternoons created plenty of fall color on trees at the Rugby Golf Course, where the meet was held.

After the noon siren blew in the background, the boys’ varsity race got underway and the sunshine grew more intense.

“When the girls ran, it was a lot cooler,” said Austin Dibble, Rugby’s top runner on the boys’ varsity team. “As we ran, the sun came out. I placed just about where I wanted. I finished with a side ache, but that’s not too big of a deal.”

“I got seventh place,” Dibble added. “There were 130 to 150 in the race. I’m really happy.”

“It feels good to run on my home course. I actually got to sleep in today, so that’s a lot better than leaving by seven,” Dibble added, smiling.

Bartsch, who has a friendly rivalry going with teammate Amelia Shepard, finished in third place with a time of 20 minutes and 29 seconds. Shepard, who finished first at a meet in Harvey Sept. 28, beating Bartsch’s time by more than a second, finished farther back in the pack of runners at the larger Rugby meet.

Shepard’s time of 21:47 placed her in the 13th spot, behind fellow Rugby runner Evyn Jacobson, who finished with a 12th place time of 21:35.

“I feel like every race, she and I go back and forth,” Shepard said of her races with Bartsch. “Sometimes, she’s ahead and sometimes, I’m ahead.”

“This was one of the best days for running,” Shepard added.

Both Rugby runners keep an eye on the finish times posted by class B rival Hannah Westin, who runs for Shiloh Christian School. Westin finished in second place, just 28 seconds ahead of Bartsch.

However, first place overall went to Brynn Hanson, an eighth grader with Des Lacs-Burlington/Lewis and Clark schools. The young varsity runner finished with a time of 19:56.98.

First place in the varsity boys’ race went to New Town’s Colt Spotted Bear, who finished with a time of 16:56.

Jansen said 33 schools participated in the Rugby Booster Club Invitational.

“Two of them were class A and one of them was a small class A school. Turtle Mountain (Community School) was here and they don’t have a whole lot of kids out. Jamestown was here. They’ve got bigger numbers in their program.”

“There were a lot of class B schools,” Jansen added. “A lot of those schools were smaller. Hillsboro was here. They of course won state eight years in a row. We’ve won it the last two, so they always have good kids and they’re always going to be competitive. Hannah Westin was up for the girls and Colt Spotted bear was here for the boys, so there were some real good kids here. Brynn Hanson from DLB, she ran the two-mile last year at the state track meet and she’s only an eighth grader. We had some good competition. Our kids had some good kids to run against and that’s always encouraging. On the girls’ side, we had five in the top 25 and that’s good.”

“Hannah Senechal wasn’t here and she was our number two or three runner, so when she’s back, that’ll make us even stronger. It’s nice to see when some kids are gone, others can step up. We’re getting better. All our kids are getting a little faster, a little stronger. We just have to be faster and stronger than the kids we’re competing against. So, hopefully we do that from here on in,” Jansen said.

Rugby’s varsity girls’ team finished in first place for the meet, beating rival Hillsboro/Central Valley by 20 points. Rugby’s varsity boys’ team finished in sixth place, ahead of 23 other teams. Rugby’s JV girls finished in first place overall, while Rugby’s JV boys finished in fifth place.

Jansen gave thanks to the many volunteers and sponsors who helped the Rugby race happen.

“I’m a little nervous when we put on events, and I can’t do them all myself. When you’re putting on a track or cross-country meet, you need 20 or 30 people to help you out. And I’ve got some great people,” Jansen said.

Jansen also gave thanks to local businesses that made financial contributions to buy a radio frequency identification (RFID) system to capture the exact time runners cross the finish line.

“We got some donors to put some money into an RFID system and the kids wear a chip. There are antennas that record their time and their place at the finish line.”

“This was the first time doing anything like this, so there were technical issues that needed to be worked out. Again, I’m grateful for the support. I was talking about this, and they said, ‘Hey, would you like to get that?’ I said, ‘Yes, we would love to try it.’ It’s a neat system.”

Jansen said Tanner Johnson of First International Bank and Trust spearheaded the fundraiser. Rugby Homes and RV Center, Rugby Manufacturing, B and J Excavating and Bartsch Electric all pitched in to pay for the system.

Jansen said he would focus on keeping his teams healthy as they approached the end of their season. The Panthers would travel to the Cooperstown Bible Camp for their last regular race Oct. 7 before taking a week off to prepare for regionals and state. The Panthers and other east region teams will compete at the Cooperstown Country Club Oct. 16, then head to Jamestown for the state meet Oct. 22.

“This time of the year, it’s just trying to stay healthy and not get injured,” Jansen said. “We’re not going to build a whole lot anymore. We’ve kind of got what we have. And for us, we’re kind of slowing things down. We’ve had a lot of meets in the last couple of weeks, so we’re honestly running on some dead legs right now for the most part. So, when kids run good races this way, it’s very encouraging. Hopefully, if we do our job right and stay away from sickness, we’ll be okay.”

“We have to stay away from COVID,” Jansen added. “We’ve had a couple of kids who’ve been quarantined, so we’ve had to deal with that. Before, it was okay, but now we’ve got three weeks left, so quarantines aren’t going to be so easy to work around. So, now we’ve got to be healthy and stay not sick and we’ve got to be ready to run at the end of the season.”

Rugby Panthers results for the Rugby Booster Club Invitational were:

Varsity girls 5000-meters: Brooklyn Bartsch, third place, 20:29; Evyn Jacobson, 12th place, 21:35; Amelia Shepard, 13th place, 21:47; Ashlyn Dibble, 18th place, 22:06; Jaelyn Lunde, 25th place, 22:30; Keyara Lundstrom, 36th place, 23:06; Quinn Neppl, 40th place, 23:12; Kendyl Hager, 44th place, 23:22; Mauvlyn Kirchofner, 47th place, 23:34; Mikaylee Livedalen, 58th place, 24:16; Kinsey Arnston, 62nd place, 24:22; Sara Schmaltz, 63rd place, 24:23; Jaclyn Duchscher, 80th place, 25:13; Rylie Suchor, 103rd place, 27:41.

Varsity boys 5000-meters: Austin Dibble, seventh place, 17:49; Jenner Johnson, 34th place, 19:27; Wyatt Oppen, 54th place, 20:32; Connor Klein, 60th place, 20:45; Connor Ramsey, 65th place, 20:56; Andrew Duchscher, 66th place, 20:58; Brayden Green, 69th place, 21:00; Riley Odden, 70th place, 21:01; Maddex Kirchofner, 73rd place, 21:11; Kristian Fritz, 88th place, 21:54; Austin Duchscher, 94th place, 22:09.

JV girls 3000-meters: Ava Jacobson, third place, 13:05; Mya McNeff, sixth place, 13:39; Jesse Wolf, seventh place, 13:46; Sophie Oppen, 16th place, 14:40; Ava Wurgler, 23rd place, 15:13; Livvy Johnson, 24th place, 15:37; Tressa Arnston, 25th place, 15:38; Rylah Hager, 26th place, 15:42; Haylee Jundt, 31st place, 16:40.

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