Runners continue to improve

Sonja Karp, Sports Editor

The Newcastle Cross Country team must have felt like Goldilocks Thursday as they competed in Belle Fourche, because the weather wasn’t too hot, it wasn’t too cold, and the wind wasn’t a factor in impeding their performance on a course that presents challenges of its own.


“It was a perfect day for a meet, and we ran pretty well,” head coach Kathy Beehler began. “Times weren’t as fast as Spearfish, but that is to be expected since that one is a pretty flat course, and Belle is not.”


The course at Belle Fourche presents a pretty daunting hill to runners, and they have to tackle it twice during the race. However, the runners took it in stride and put up pretty good times on the day. 


Sam Cunningham once again was the first Dogie runner across the finish line, coming in eighth with a time of 18:22.59, which is a full two minutes faster than he ran the course last year.


“Sam ran faster than he did at Mallo,” Beehler said. “Obviously, his Spearfish time was faster because it’s a flat course and he shouldn’t beat that, but if the times are fairly close, that’s a great thing.”


Archer Ohnstad was next in 25th place with a time of 20:34.11, an astounding seven minutes faster than he ran the course in 2022. 


Logan Olson, Ben Carter and Caleb Hoover finished in 32nd, 35th and 40th, respectively, and each finished faster than they did last season, Olson by four minutes. 


In the junior varsity division, the three freshmen runners had no times to compare from last season, however, Lane Carter had an impressive run, finishing in 10th place with a time of 22:30.54. His time was a minute and a half faster than the time he clocked at the Spearfish meet last week. 


“Holy moly, Lane ran well!” said Beehler. “After finishing in the middle at both of our other two meets, he really pulled it out to bring out his potential.”


Daxton Phillips was 22nd and Dendrick Blumenthal was right behind in 23rd with only three seconds separating the two runners. 


“The three freshmen have really run together so far this season, but Lane put some separation between the three this week,” Beehler reported. “Overall, the runners are finishing pretty consistently regarding first through fifth for the varsity.”


The Lady Dogies had no one entered into the varsity race, as Aspen Bloom was sidelined for the week with a nagging soreness that Beehler didn’t want to exacerbate. 


Christine and Holly Swentesky ran in the JV division and finished fourth and sixth, respectively, with a minute separating the two. 


“Christine and Holly ran really well,” Beehler said. “Holly, especially, did a great job and she is just chiseling away and is getting better and better each week.”


This week Beehler is setting goals for her runners regarding where they need to be for conference and state competition. 


“Where we were looking at having our kids shooting for improving their current race pace, we are now shooting for their goal race pace,” she explained. “We’d like to see a drop in Custer this week, even though it is a hilly course.”


Beehler pointed out that the remaining courses are also hilly, so her runners will need to adjust and acclimate to the challenges of hills as they prepare for conference and state. 


The team will head to Custer on Thursday for their meet, and as Custer allows up to 10 to run on varsity, Beehler is contemplating introducing the freshmen to varsity action this week. 


“I want to feel it out to see if they are ready,” she said. “It might be a good opportunity to get our young runners some varsity experience.”


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