Runners battle adversity in Belle

Sonja Karp, NLJ Sports Editor

Last Thursday, the Dogie Cross Country squads headed to Belle Fourche where temperatures were expected to climb into the high 90s. As such, start time was moved up to 9 a.m. rather than 1 p.m., but although the heat did not become a factor, the air quality was less than desirable with the smoke from fires in the west hanging heavy over the area.

Add to that a course that features a big hill that must be tackled twice, and the results were times that looked a little different than last week in Spearfish, which is one of the fastest courses the team will run on all season.

“It was smokey, but not as bad as some years,” reported head coach Kathy Beehler. “You could smell it, and people complained, but it wasn’t overly bad. It wasn’t super hot, but it was still in the 80s, which seemed good after running in the 90s last week.” 

Aspen Bloom ran well on the day, finishing in fifth place overall with a time that was just 23 seconds slower than last week, which is a pretty good accomplishment considering. She was also a minute faster than she was last year at the Belle Fourche meet, finishing in 22:50.

“Aspen is plugging away and doing well,” Beehler acknowledged. “I’m having her run with Nick [Lopez] and she is doing great, and as he gets faster, so will she.”

Taylor Conklin ran in her first meet of the season, and as such Beehler had her compete in the JV Division. She finished 34th in a time of  32:12.90.

“Taylor ran well for her first meet of the year, and I thought she did well.” Beehler said. “Though the girls do not have enough runners to score as a team, they can still compete as individuals so they will just continue to improve.”

After missing last week’s race, Thatcher Troftgruben was back as the Dogies’ leading runner, finishing 12th in just under 19 minutes and was 1:05 faster than last year. 

“Thatcher wasn’t really excited about his time, but he got a medal and improved his time, so I thought that was good,” Beehler declared.

Sam Scribner was next in 20:08, which earned him 22nd place, and was 1:07 faster than last season.

Sam Cunningham and Wyatt Cole didn’t run last season, so they had no time to compare. However, they came in 26th and 32nd, respectively, with only 28 seconds separating them.

Lopez was 41 seconds faster this year in his 35th-place finish, and was just 27 seconds behind Cole. 

Logan Olson finished 43rd with a time of 25:04. However, Beehler is certain there was a mix-up with his time, given he finished ahead of Caleb Hoover who ran 23:15.

“I wonder if it should have been 23:04 instead of 25:04,” Beehler said. “I want to look into it, but I know that Caleb’s time is right, so Logan’s obviously is not.”

Assuming a 23:04 finish means that Olson’s time was 40 seconds faster than last year in Belle. 

The JV and varsity ran together, but were running in different divisions. As such, Ben Carter came in 17th in the JV race with a time of 21:55.94, Hoover was 34th in 23:15.27, Archer Ohnstad finished 63rd in 27:19.09 and Richard Smith, running in his first meet of the season was 73rd with a time of 34:54.55

There were a few runners who put up impressive times, given the course and the conditions. Compared to how they did on the flat Spearfish course, Cole was only 14 seconds slower, Hoover only 19 seconds slower and Carter only 48 seconds off what they ran last week.

“We’re getting faster, we’re getting stronger and that’s what we want to do,” Beehler said. “Caleb dropped six minutes from last year. I feel like he is doing really well and will continue to drop time. He ran a lot this summer and it is showing.”

“We’re a young team and, theoretically, all but Wyatt should be running JV,” she continued. “We’re asking them to step into a much bigger role so they are handling it well.”

This week, the team travels to Custer on Thursday, for another challenging, rolling course. 

“I think it’s my favorite course because I won conference there when I ran for Sturgis,” Beehler said. “Everyone has their favorite types of courses, so we are looking to see some improvements this week as well.”


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