Girls cross country retains Class A crown

Ron Burtz
For the second year in a row the Custer girls cross country team was crowned state Class A champion at the state cross country meet in Huron over the weekend. The boys team, fresh off a second-place finish at the Region 5 meet in Pine Ridge on October 17, took fourth in the boys race which qualified the Wildcats to receive the Combined Team Champion award for the second year running.
“I was impressed with how they came through,” said coach Karen Karim. “They all had great performances. That’s hard to have happen.”
Karim says everyone who had run on the same course at a meet in Huron earlier in the season ran faster than they had before, adding “and some of them were significantly faster.”   
All six members of the girls team received medals for their performance. Medals were given out for the top 25 and the Wildcats were all in the top 20. 
“We could have removed a couple girls from that group and still won,” commented Karim.
Senior Mallory Delmont finished out her high school cross country career by winning her sixth medal at state. She came in fourth in the race with a time of 19:22.44. 
“Mallory has received a medal at the state meet ever since she was a seventh grader,” said Karim. “Of those six years we have four state championship titles and were runners-up once.  She’s going to leave a huge hole to fill.”
Karim said she was also especially pleased with her other senior Josie Dvorak. 
“Josie wasn’t at her best the last couple of races,” said Karim, “so to see her come through and have a good race in her last cross country race as a Wildcat was pretty exciting.”
Dvorak finished 16th (The fifth runner for Custer) in a time of 20:16.35. 
The other runner Karim will lose from next year’s roster is freshman Sierra Osterling whose family is moving out of state. 
Oesterling was the second runner in for Custer in a time of 19:38.92. Fellow ninth grader Ramsey Karim was only a few seconds behind in ninth place, clocking in at 19:51.62. 
Sophomore Kadense Dooley was next for the Wildcats, finishing 15th in a time of 20:10.61. 
“Kadense ran the first half of the race in sixth place and then got a side ache,” said Karim, “Otherwise she would have finished at the top.”
Karim says Dooley pushed through the pain and “placed where we needed her to.”
The last Custer runner to cross the line was sophomore Eva Studt who Karim says has improved greatly this season. Studt finished in 20th place with a time of 20:26.71. 
Karim says she received many compliments at the state meet regarding the team spirit exhibited by her girls. 
“They push each other. They support each other. They encourage each other and they compete as a team and then they’re successful because of that,” said Karim. 
In the boys’ race sophomore Preston Drew passed up usual frontrunner Jace Oesterling to cross the line first for Custer. Drew placed 12th in a time of 17:14.26.
“It was a good race for Preston,” said Karim. “He ran fairly close to his personal record and much faster than last time he was on that course. He was really competitive.”
“Preston is where I would like to see him as a sophomore,” said Karim. “I think next year and the next year he’s just going to get faster and faster.” 
Karim said Oesterling started out the race with the front pack, but has been dealing with some congestion in recent days and “started feeling it in that race.” He finished seven seconds behind Drew in 13th in a time of 17:21.96. 
Custer’s third runner, sophomore Miles Ellman, came in 24th overall with a time of 17:45.27. 
That placing qualified Ellman for a medal.  
Running on Saturday after having played in Pine Ridge with the football team on Thursday Kaleb Wragge set a new personal record at the state meet according to Karim. 
“It gave him a taste of what cross country’s about,” said Karim.
Custer’s fifth and sixth runners were freshman Gage Grohs, 44th, (18:21.62) and senior Tucker Youngblood, 69th, (18:50.61). 
“Gage Grohs had a huge personal record at this meet and gained some valuable experience we can use next year,” said Karim.
“If those boys wouldn’t have run as they did we wouldn’t have won the combined team championship trophy,” said Karim. 
She says their performance in Huron speaks well of the work the students have put in this year as well as their never-give-up attitude. 
“The kids have worked hard all season and have been a good group to coach,” said Karim.
As if their stellar season wasn’t enough running for them, Karim says some members of the squad are planning to compete in a post-season race at the Nike Cross Country Championship meet on Sunday, Nov. 10, in Sioux Falls.

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