Wildcats dominate conference meet

Ron Burtz
The Custer varsity cross country teams made it two-in-a-row as Black Hills Conference champions last Wednesday, running a day earlier than planned to beat a snowstorm forecast for Thursday. 
“We worked out really hard on Monday,” said coach Karen Karim, “so they didn’t by any means have ‛fresh legs’ going into that meet but they came through and ran what they needed to.”
It was already snowing in host site Belle Fourche at midday on Wednesday, but Karim says it was a blessing organizers moved up the meet, adding that it would have been hard to reschedule the races with the regional meet coming up this Thursday. 
Karim says she was concerned as she watched her varsity boys run by her vantage point for the race and then disappear behind a grove of trees near the finish line.
“When they went out of my sight they were not winning,” said Karim. “I didn’t think we would be able to pull it off.”
However, Karim says after they went out of sight several of the boys passed other runners putting them in first place as far as team points.
The frontrunner for the Wildcats was once again senior Jace Oesterling who finished sixth with a time of 18:11.23. Karim says that placing was respectable for him but says “he’s still struggling a little bit on just the hills and the altitude.” 
She says Oesterling who is still getting used to running at a higher altitude again should improve when the races are run on some flatter, lower courses.
Coming in next after Oesterling was Miles Ellman who placed seventh in 18:18.98.
“He really had a good race,” said Karim of Ellman. “This was the best meet he’s had all year.”
Preston Drew was two places back in ninth with a time of 18:32.86. Karim says Drew had fallen down earlier in the race and got back up to finish. 
Karim says the win came down to her fourth and fifth runners who, she says, “really put us into position to win” by passing runners from other teams. 
Coming in fourth for Custer and 15th overall was Kaleb Wragge in a time of 19:20.44. 
“Kaleb probably passed three kids after he passed me,” said Karim.  
Tucker Youngblood finished 22nd in the race with a time of 19:53.68. Karim says he passed the fourth runner from St. Thomas More (STM) going into the finish which added another point onto their score. 
Karim says those passes added to the scores of the other teams giving the Custer boys the needed boost to win the conference title. 
“We beat STM by four points,” said Karim. 
Pierce Sword was the sixth runner on the varsity squad coming in 27th with a time of 20:12.98. 
The Custer boys had a team score of 36 to 40 for STM and 43 for Sturgis Brown. 
Meanwhile, all six varsity girls finished in the top 11 in the race to clinch the conference title. 
Senior Mallory Delmont finished second mere seconds behind Hill City speedster Abby Cutler. Delmont’s time was 19:51.03. 
“Mallory’s feeling stronger each week and that’s a good thing for us,” said Karim adding that Delmont is gradually “closing in behind Abby Cutler.”
Next across the line for Custer in sixth place was freshman Sierra Oesterling with a time of 21:01.08. 
“Sierra had a better race than the week before,” said Karim. 
Following Oesterling was a pack of four Wildcat runners who finished within seconds of each other to sew up eighth through 11th places. 
The quartet included Ramsey Karim (21:12.86), Josie Dvorak (21:18.20), Eva Studt (21:21.62) and Kadense Dooley (21:25.72).  
“It makes it kind of difficult for someone to get in there and add points to our score when we have all six of our girls coming in in the top 11,” said Karim. “I know they only add up the top four but we’re bumping other people’s points back when we finish in a pack like that.”
Karim notes that her girls again finished in a different order but adds, “Our girls are so deep that they step up when someone is not having as good of a race.”
The Custer girls had just 25 team points to second-placing Hill City which had a score of 39.  
While no team results were kept for the JV races, Karim says those teams did well also at Belle. 
On the boys side, Gage Grohs came in second with a time of 19:48.31, Drew Lehman was fourth (20:33.23), Landon Woodward was seventh (21:32.28) and Danny Nelson finished 10th in a time of 21:49.79. Rounding out the JV squad were Jackson Drew, 11th, (22:13.34) and Gus Fortune, 17th, (24:20.95). 
The JV girls had the first four runners across the finish line with the first being Nancy Falkenburg Brown (22:11.04). Following closely in second place was her sister Ryken with a time of 22:50.18. In third was Emma Helfer with a time of 23:26.65 followed by her sister Peyton in 23:39.55. 
Finishing eighth was Ella Allen (25:38.95) followed closely by Sadie Moore, ninth, (25:47.89), Serenity Meyer, 10th, (26:39.01) and Megan Snyder, 11th, (26:48.45).
On Thursday the teams head for Pine Ridge for the Region 5 finals where they hope to qualify for the state cross country meet in Huron on Saturday, October 26. 
“We haven’t been there for years, so I’m not sure what to expect,” said Karim, but adds it looks like it will be a good day in terms of the weather. 
“My hope at region is getting the job done and qualifying for state,” said Karim, “and nobody gets hurt in the process.”

User login