Cross county girls take their revenge on Stevens

Ron Burtz
It didn’t take the Custer High School varsity girls cross country team long to get their revenge on Class AA school Rapid City Stevens for beating them in the Rapid City Invitational meet a couple weeks ago. In their very next meeting at the Sturgis Invite last Thursday, the Wildcats took first place, pushing Stevens back to third. 
“The Custer girls dominated Rapid City Stevens,” said coach Karen Karim who had used their second-place finish to Stevens at Hart Ranch as a teachable moment for her girls. “The girls really stepped up and had great races. I was thrilled.!”
While Karim says team results were not officially tabulated by meet officials, by one scoring method the Wildcats won the varsity race with a score of 43 to 56 for Natrona County High School from Casper, Wyo., and 76 for Stevens. 
“Natrona is a big school,” said Karim. “I don’t think they really expected our little class A school to beat them like that.”
Leading the way once again for the Custer girls was senior Mallory Delmont, who finished third with a time of 19:31.6.
Kadense Dooley was the second runner to cross the line for Custer, placing seventh in 19:58.2. 
“She just had a very good race,” said Karim. “Kadense likes that course at Sturgis and so much of running is mental. When a runner is a little bit more confident in a race, that shows.”
Sierra Oesterling, who rejoined the team last week and was the usual front-runner last season, came in 10th in a time of 20:18.5. 
Another switchup in the race was the placing of Ramsey Karim and Josie Dvorak. Dvorak, who has finished second behind Delmont through most of the season, placed 13th (20:29.5) two seconds behind Karim who came in 12th, (20:27.6). 
“They’re making each other better,” said Karim. “They’re there to pick up the pieces when someone doesn’t have quite as good of a race.” 
Eva Studt finished in 18th place with a time of 20:58.2 and Nancy Falkenburg Brown came in 31st in 21:45. 
“The effort and improvement that my girls have shown over the last year is really evident,” said Karim. “They put themselves out there as the team to beat in the state right now.”
The varsity boys finished sixth overall in Sturgis, however, there was only one other class A school ahead of them—St. Thomas More of Rapid City. 
Rejoining the team last week, senior Jace Oesterling resumed his front-runner status for the Wildcats, placing fourth in a time of 17:10.3 about half a minute behind the winner, Sawyer Clarkson of Belle Fourche.
“I would suspect that Jace is not quite where he will be a couple of weeks from now,” said Karim, noting that the Oesterling siblings’ training this summer and fall at a significantly lower altitude may have set them back a bit.  
“Fortunately for us, we get to go east [and to a lower altitude] for the state tournament again this year,” said Karim. 
Next across the line for Custer was sophomore Preston Drew (17:55.4). Miles Ellman finished 32nd in a time of 18:30.9 and Tucker Youngblood was 51st in 19:05.9.
The last two runners for the Wildcats in the varsity race were Pierce Sword, 53rd, (19:08.6) and Sam Jackson, 65th, (19:36.7). 
Karim says her JV teams are also showing improvement each week. She says she looks at them and thinks, “I can’t wait to get them into the high school races next year because they’re coming on.”
Ryken Falkenburg Brown placed third in the JV girls race with a time of 22:23.6, in the process beating a girl who had beat her the previous week. 
She was followed closely by Emma Helfer who placed fifth (22:28.7) and Peyton Helfer who finished 10th in 23:14.9. 
Karim says by one scoring method her JV girls finished second behind Rapid City Stevens.
For the JV boys it was Kaleb Wagge taking the lead with his second-place finish in a time of 18:44.1. Freshman Gage Grohs was two places back in fourth with a time of 19:14.2.
While Karim says her team looks solid going into the final weeks of the season, she admits anything can happen.
“We still have the big ones coming up,” speaking of regions, conference and the state finals in Huron. 
Karim says while the Black Hills Conference meet in Belle Fourche on Thursday is important, it’s “a bit too early to try to peak for, so we just train right through that. We go for it all at the state meet.”

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