Wildcats sweep Custer Invite

Ron Burtz
The Custer boys and girls cross country teams each had four runners in the top six finishers of the varsity races last Thursday to sweep the team titles in the Eldon Knudson Custer Invitational meet at Rocky Knolls Golf Course. 
In the girls race, junior Kadense Dooley was the winner and again the front-runner for the Wildcats, crossing the finish line in 21:03.50. Seconds later sophomore Ramsey Karim was the second runner in 21:28.99 and freshman Sierra Swanson came in third at 22:03.25. Coach Karen Karim says in the process Swanson beat the girl from St. Thomas More (STM) she got passed by last week. 
Sophomore Eva Studt was two places back behind runners from STM and Red Cloud to finish in seventh place with a time of 22:58.63. 
Three more young Wildcat runners also placed in the top 20 to earn medals for their efforts. 
Seventh grader Hailey Woodward ran the course in a time of 24:28.62 to take 13th place, ninth grader Hailee Graf came in 16th (25:00.12) and eighth grader Maya Tennyson crossed the line 14 seconds later (25:14.22) to take 17th place. 
Senior Emma Helfer was 21st (26:03.49) and freshman Brit Wheeler came in 23rd with a time of 26:09.70. 
Karim said she is happy with the progress the younger runners have made through the season and she’s hoping the progress will continue in order to strengthen the team’s prospects for the end of the season. 
“There are a lot of bodies in-between my first group and my second group at this time, so we don’t want to lose anybody in our front runner group because we’ll start paying the price when we start adding more points,” said Karim. 
Karim also said her varsity boys team is not as deep as she would like until she gets injured Pierce Sword back at 100 percent.
However, the boys also won their race, coming in five points lower than second place STM with a team score of 31. 
Junior Miles Ellman kept his front-runner status by winning the race in a time of 18:24.74. Twenty three seconds later teammate Kaleb Wragge crossed the line in 18:47.17 to take second place ahead of two STM runners. 
Preston Drew and Gage Grohs finished fifth and sixth with times of 19:06.62 and 19:17.58, respectively. Nineteenth and 20th place finishers Landon Woodward and Drew Lehman were also in the medals with their neck-and-neck times of 21:39.99 and 21:40.31, respectively.
Jackson Drew and Alex Van Horn finished 23rd and 24th, clocking in at 22:18.50 and 22:26.67 respectively. 
Karim said despite the wins she is still waiting for the day when all of her runners feel their best at the same time, but said she’s content to wait until the state meet for that.  
Meanwhile Karim said her JV runners are showing a lot of promise and getting stronger with each race. 
Leaders in the 5K JV race included freshmen Mical Grace and Kody Marshall who finished seventh and ninth in the boys race, respectively, and sophomores Sadie Moore and Ella Allen who finished third and sixth among the JV girls. 
On Friday the runners make the short trip to Hart Ranch for the Rapid City Invitational. 
Since it is the site of next month’s state cross country meet, Karim saod that makes the invite a more important meet. 
She said the races will give her runners an opportunity to see that course, get a feel for the layout and hopefully gain some confidence going into the second half of the season and the finals.

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