Rangers off and running

Esther Noe
The Rangers were off and running for the Hill City High School cross country team’s first meet of the season Friday, Aug. 25, hosted by Newcastle at Mallow Camp. 
Head coach Joe Noyes described the course as a tough but true cross country course out in the sticks going uphill for a mile and a half and then downhill for a mile and a half. 
In the boys varsity 5K, the Rangers were led by senior Luke Rupert who finished in second place with a time of 16:44.69. He was followed by senior Leighton Aves in third at 17:04.22 and sophomore Tate Grabow in fourth at 17:19.06
“Six or seven of the top 10 in Class A were in that race so it was a very competitive race on the boys’ side,” said Noyes. “To have our boys go second, third and fourth was pretty awesome.” 
Brandon Escalante also did well coming in ninth place with a time of 18:20.79. 
Meanwhile, in the girls varsity 5K, senior Abby Cutler claimed first place with a time of 20:12.38. 
“She missed all of last year in cross country with a foot injury and so this is her first race back,” said Noyes. He added that the race was a way for Cutler to prove to herself what she is capable of. 
Shortly after, freshman Aspen Veneklasen placed second at 21:49, and sophomore Brooke Thayer-Burke placed third at 22:02.91. 
Noyes said Thayer-Burke had “a pretty awesome day” and beat a couple of girls she had never beaten before.
Coming in eighth place for the Rangers was junior Paiton Flick at 22:55.42. Then sophomore Jaelyn Peters finished in fourteenth with a time of 23:32.37. 
“Their times reflected running hard,” said Noyes. “Even though it wasn’t the ideal course, I think the kids really performed well. And I think the reason that is, is because they did their training this summer. We had kids meeting twice a week as a team and then they were running on their own six or seven days a week all summer. It obviously showed.” 
There are 20 athletes out for cross country this year, and Noyes said, “It's probably the 20 most committed kids top to bottom.” 
He said every athlete wants to do the work and does not complain.
Noyes said he is very optimistic about the season as long as the boys and girls can stay healthy. 
Next up, the Rangers will compete at the Northern Hills Invitational Cross Country Meet in Spearfish at Jorgensen/Evans Park Friday, Sept. 1 at 10 a.m. 

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