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Philip cross country Highmore runner-up

Up before the dawn Saturday, October 2, the Scotties cross country team loaded themselves and the Wall Eagles onto a bus headed for Highmore to see what kind of power the eastern part of South Dakota had to offer.

Philip seventh grader Tyshia Ferguson took part in the 2,000 meter junior high race. This is her fifth race and the shortest to date. Ferguson placed 26th, covering the course in a time of 11:33.

Sophomore Holly Iwan and freshman Allison Pekron joined 34 competitors on the start line of the 4,000 meter varsity race. With temperatures in the high 40s, sunny skies and a very light easterly breeze, conditions were perfect for fast times on this spectator-friendly, nearly flat course.

Iwan went out with the early breakaway group, while an ever-improving Pekron found her challenge in finding a new cadence moving her up the field of competitors. Iwan ran her most competitive race of 2010, her time of 15:34 bettered her course best by 16 seconds set in 2008 and gave her fourth place behind Mindy Kraft of Wessington Springs, Tia Carlson of Kadoka and champion Tori Moore of Ipswich, 4th, 3rd and 17th and 9th respectively in last year's state meet. Pekron, with just one runner separating her from Kadoka's Alex Smiley, also turned in her best 4,000 meter race ever, with an improvement of 39 seconds over her previous Highmore best to place 27th.

All five Philip boys threw together to get a good look at what they will bring to the upcoming regional championship, just 10 days from this race. Senior Zane Pekron and junior William Coyle, after the very early jockeying, fell in at the fourth and fifth positions behind Wall's Collin Huether, the leader Wessington Spring's Jace Kraft and Mitchell Christian's Cristian VanDyke - 22nd, 10th and 15th at last year's state meet. Eighth grader Tristen Rush, in his best 5,000 meter effort to date, chose the first short hill to push himself toward a medal-earning finish. Eighth grader Blake Martinez and 11th grader Kelvin Ferguson each began their best 2010 5,000 meter efforts as all five team members had a role to fill in today's team placement.

Mid-race found Coyle running in fifth, Pekron seventh, Rush 15th, Martinez in 25th, and Ferguson in a tight pack of six runners just a few seconds behind Martinez.

The race ends with a quarter-mile gradual downhill, then 200 meters uphill. This makes for very exciting finish sprints. Coyle used a strong finish to hold off the side-by-side sprints of Pekron and Hitchcock-Tulares's Kordell Mullenburg, last year's eighth place state finisher, and 18:07, giving Coyle fifth place to Pekron's seventh, clocking 17:58 and 18:07, this a 32 second improvement, Pekron's previous course best. Rush, ever-advancing, finished between Ipswich's number one and number two runners to earn the 14th of 15 place medals, clocking 19:00, this a 51 second improvement on his 5,000 meter time. Martinez, Philip's pusher today, finished strong, keeping Nathan Patterson (Wall's pusher) behind him, placing 28th in a time of 20:32. Over 3:00 faster than either of his previous 5,000 meter efforts.

Ferguson finished his race in a sprint with Hoven/Edmund Center's Reid Kaiser to place 38th, stopping his time at 22:29, Ferguson's best 5,000 meter effort of the year by 20 seconds.

The boys finished second as a team with 19 points to Wall's 17 points. Seems to race against some of the best, you have to bring them with you.

The Scottie's final race of the regular season will be Saturday, October 9, on the Philip golf course, with the regional championship on Wednesday, October 13, also at Philip.