Youngsters coming on strong 

By: 
Sonja Karp

Sonja Karp

NLJ Sports Editor

 

The Dogies faced one of their hardest courses last Thursday in Custer, but NHS head cross country coach Kathy Beehler was happy to see her team take on, and rise to, the challenge it presented.

“The Custer course is the hardest course we run on, so to put out good times there is awesome,” Beehler said. “I didn’t expect anyone to get a faster time at Custer, but a lot of them did!” 

The Dogie men weren’t able to roster a team in the varsity division due to freshmen Thatcher Troftgruben and Sam Scribner, the squad’s second and third runners, being sidelined by temporary injuries. However, nearly all of the JV boys and varsity and JV girls put together good races on the day.

“I was very pleased with our ladies and with our underclassmen,” Beehler said. “Our freshmen are just running super well and are working really hard so that’s exciting.”

Freshman Aspen Bloom once again led her team in the girls’ varsity race. With her 14th-place finish of 23:29.88, she improved by 30 seconds over her time at Belle Fourche last week. Janaya Ralls was next across the line in 29th place and was followed by Tara Carter in 35th. Ralls carved off 2:26 seconds from her time in Belle Fourche while Carter took an impressive 1:40 off of hers. 

Meanwhile, Taylor Conklin, in her first varsity appearance of the season, came in just four seconds behind Carter in 36th place and her improvement was impressive at 5:44 faster than Belle Fourche. 

“Every single girl ran well,” Beehler said. “They awarded the top 20 medals, so Aspen got one with her 14th-place finish, and that was great for her.”

In the men’s race, Avery Chick again led the team and also took home a medal with his 13th-place finish. The senior was one of the rare instances where there wasn’t an improvement from last week, however, Beehler chalks that up to the fact that he was not feeling well.

“Avery ran a good race, and he went out in the top five, but it really looked to me that he wasn’t feeling up to par,” she mused. “I thought this race was mentally tough for him. I think he ran well, but didn’t hit it out of the park.”

Wyatt Cole was back at it after missing the last couple of weeks, and he was the next Dogie across the finish line in 25th place with a time of 20:30.13. He was coming off being sick and then injured, however he ran 30 seconds faster in Custer than he did in Newcastle, which is a much easier course. 

Travis Scribner and Logan Olson each cut about a minute and a half from their time, Tayson Wheeler was 3:17 faster, Caleb Hoover finished 4:28 better than Belle Fourche, and Richard Smith turned it on to finish over seven minutes faster. 

“The freshmen boys and girls really knocked it out of the park. They keep getting better and I really appreciate their hard work and dedication. The future looks bright with this crew,” Beehler said. “Richard told me that he didn’t feel good, so he didn’t want to run. I said that since he was here, he needed to try and he ended up having the best race of his life.”

This week the team went to Hot Springs on Tuesday where all the girls ran varsity for the first time this year.

“We can run seven or eight in the varsity division, so I would like to split it up to try to get both the men’s varsity and JV to win the meet,” Beehler explained. “Some of that will depend on where my injured runners are at and how they are doing. I would also like to place as high as we can with the girls varsity.”

The Dogies were scheduled to run at Hart Ranch on Friday, but Beehler decided that since it is Homecoming, they will skip that due to having runners who are in the Homecoming Court and some in the band who are counted on for the parade.

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