Cross Country season has started, with the first practice held Monday, August 8.
The boys' team placed second at the state meet last year, so expectations are high. "I did the math," Coach Bill Jansen, said. "If everyone runs the same way they ran last yearwe're right in there again."
Top contenders on the boys' side are John Mueller (Senior), Gabe Clements (Junior), Kadin Neppl (Freshman) and Dawson Schepp (Freshman). All are all-region runners.
New Town and Hillsboro/Central Valley are the main competition for the boys this season, with New Town having won 10 out of the last 12 state titles and Rugby winning the other two. With Hillsboro/Central Valley coming in right behind Rugby at state last season, they are another team that Jansen says will be tough competition.
"What are our expectations? Hopefully to win the region and hopefully to be in the top five, as high as we can be at the statewe want to be on the stand, as a team," Jansen said.
The girls' team placed 3rd at the region meet last season, which is the lowest finish from the team in a long time. The team is hoping to return to the top two, however, it is expected to be tough. "Hillsboro/Central Valley is the big competition in our region. They have won the last four or five state titles, so to get by them, we're going to have to make some improvement," Jansen said. Another competitor Jansen says will be tough to beat this season is Hatton/Northwood/Thompson.
Top returners this year for the girls' team are Tristin Lunde (Junior), Kristina Brossart (Freshman) and Ellie Durchscherer (Freshman).
Statewide, change is happening in girls Cross Country. Before this year, girls ran 4000 meters North Dakota is the last state in the country to have girls run 5000 meters, as boys do.
"It's a big change," Jansen said. "It will be interesting to see how we make that transition."
The girls' team's goal for this season is to get back into the top two, region wise, and to finish in the top ten, at least, at the state meet.
Jansen, who has been coaching at Rugby High School for 19 years, says that training, along with team chemistry, is what will prepare his team for the season.
"The kids that I deal with amaze me everyday with what they're doing and how they're doing it," Jansen said. "As you get into it, you develop a love for the sport and for the kids that take part in it. My goal is to get as many kids as I can to participate, and at the end of the year, hopefully they have enjoyed it and are sorry that it's done."
The first Cross Country invitational will be held Saturday, August 20 at Jamestown.