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Philip cross country season starts strong

Early Bird run ... These Scottie girls were of the five who competed in the junior varsity run at Douglas, September 26. Ellie Coyle is followed by Kianna Knutson, and Peyton Kuckenbecher can be seen far left.

by Coach Ralph Kroetch

After two long weeks of two-a-day practices, the Philip Scotties cross country team began their 2011 season. The race on the Douglas golf course is called the Early Bird, as it is the first day that competition is allowed for cross country in South Dakota.

Any and all West River teams from AA, A and B divisions, as well as several teams from Wyoming and North Dakota, gathered to test the fruits of their summer preparation.

With temperatures in the low 90s and no wind, conditions proved a strong factor in the day's races.

Junior Holly Iwan was Philip's lone varsity girl. In her fifth season, Iwan ran a smart, even-paced 4,000 meter race, starting and finishing in the upper third of the field of 65 competitors. Iwan split a pair of Rapid City Central runners in her finish, edging out one for 22nd place in a time of 18:38, an improvement over her 2010 finish by 1:23 and 10 places better.

Senior William Coyle, Philip's lone varsity boy, lined up with 60 young men from 50 schools. As he began his fourth season, experience has taught him to be patient and run an even-paced race. Coyle's strong summer of training gave him the strength to move up nine places in this 5,000 meter race and cut one full minute from his 2010 time. He kept Wall's Kale Lytle behind him as he crossed the finish line in 21st place with a time of 19:42.

Philip sent five girls to the line as the junior varsity race began. Eighth grader Ellie Coyle ran her first cross country race, starting around the 15th position and working her way up to step in front of Rapid City Christian's Savannah Huntley for second place. Both girls were timed at 13:43 for this 3,000 meter race.

Senior Kianna Knutson, also running her first ever cross country race, started in the upper teens and worked her way down the ladder to overtake Hill City's Michial Wiederhold for the 12th of 15 place awards offered to this field of 57 runners.

Seventh grader Peyton Kuckenbecker also ran her first cross country race. She started around the 20th spot. For her the learning curve was strong, as she took a mid-race drink which immediately gave her stomach problems. She trailed Rapid City Steven's Emily Linn across the finish line in 27th place, clocking 16:01.

Sophomore Allison Pekron used her four years experience to run a smart race, starting in the mid-40s and working herself up into the mid-30s. Her time of 16:43 put her in 35th place.

Eighth grader Tyshia Ferguson was able to improve on her 2010 Douglas time by 10 seconds, stopping the clock at 20:37 for 56th place.

The Scotties entered eight runners in the unlimited 4,000 meter race - some for the experience, some for the conditioning, but a great opening race for all.

Freshman Nelson Holman paced his first ever cross country race with second year harrier, freshman Tristen Rush. Both started smart, setting at the back of the lead group and working their way up to a strong finishing sprint to give the duo the final two place medals. Holman in the 14th position with Rush in 15th; both with a time of 16:32. For Rush, this was a 21 second improvement over his 2010 Douglas finish.

Senior Marcus Martinez, making a successful return to Scottie cross country, worked with brother Blake Martiniez to reaccumulate himself to the sport. They began with the main group and ran strong throughout. They were separated by Rapid City Central's Brian Whipple at the finish, with B. Martinez taking the same place as in 2010, 43rd, but with a full two minute improvement clocking 18:03. M. Martinez, running this course for the first time, placed 45th with a time of 18:10.

Damian Bartels, Garrett Snook, Keegan Burnett and Kelvin Ferguson began this race working together, with Ferguson offering words of encouragement throughout. Seventh grader Bartels moved up through this field of 91 starters to place 68th in his first ever cross country race.

Eighth graders Snook and Burnett finished well, together placing 75th and 76th with finish times of 21:37 and 21:39 - for both young men their first ever cross country race. Ferguson outpaced Custer's Gunner LeFebVre to the finish line, earning 80th place in a time of 22:13.

A great start for a very young junior varsity team. I look for a lot of fun, hard work and big improvements s we work through the season. The Scotties race next at 10:00 a.m. on the Faith golf course, Friday, September 2.