Philip hosts Region 5B championship - four Scotties to compete at state cross country

by Coach Ralph Kroetch

We could have asked for no better day of Wednesday, October 10th, to hold the Regional 5B finals; and no better course, with temperatures in the mid-50s, a sunny sky and a light breeze.

The 15 schools would gather over 80 athletes to compete for a berth at the state cross country meet to be held in Huron on October 20th.

To say that Region 5 has become more competitive would be a drastic understatement. Our 2007 meet included three additional schools; Wall being a new and powerful team, Isabel, and the 2005 state champs McIntosh.

Fourteen of last year's 23 varsity boys returned this year. Though 13 of them ran notably better times than last year, none bettered their finish positions in this year's field of 42. This was the year's largest varsity boys' regional competition in the state.

Philip's boys' varsity, junior Anthony Iwan, freshman Kyle Iwan, freshman Zane Pekron and eighth grader Kelvin Ferguson all improved their '06 regional times. Just a half mile in, Pekron, A. Iwan and K. Iwan settled into the 16th, 17th and 18th places with Ferguson in 32nd. By mid-race, A. Iwan had moved into 13th. At the race's end, A. Iwan led the Scotties into the finish chute in 13th place and a finish time of 18:53, bettering his '06 region time by 1:11. K. Iwan out-sprinted McIntosh's Matt Seiler in the last 50 yards to claim the 14th spot and improve his '06 time by 40 seconds, clocking 19:00 even. Pekron out ran Wall's Joe Besson for 16th place in a time of 19:06 and a 1:13 improvement over last year. Ferguson, shedding his hat and gloves near race end, out-distanced Lemmon's Chad Pelkfor for 34th place and recorded a time of 21:02, an improvement of 3:51 over last year.

The Scotties finished fifth behind fourth place Takini (last year's champs), third place Jones County, second place McIntosh and 2007 Region 5B champs Wall.

The girls' varsity also saw a dramatic increase in the starting line numbers, but the lowering of the finish times changed the awards standings. The race began with a rare re-start as two young ladies tangled legs and went down, causing race starter Dick Rockafellow to recall the runners and send them out a second time.

On the second start, seventh grader Holly Iwan went out hard alongside Kadoka's Tia Carlson for the race lead, a valuable experience for later at the state meet. At the half mile mark, H. Iwan had settled into ninth place with Philip's senior Brandy Bartels in 19th, sophomore Emily Schofield in 30th and freshman Jennifer Stangle in 31st.

By mid-race, H. Iwan had moved into eighth place. Bartels, trailing a group of runners, was now in 23rd. Schofield was in 32nd and Stangle was in 33rd.

H. Iwan out ran McIntosh's Lydia Eagle for eighth place and a time of 16:15. Bartels found herself in a race for the final state qualifying spot of 20th place with Faith's Tiffany Smith. A chutemaster's decision gave Bartels the 21st spot in a time of 17:23. This was Bartels' fastest time on this course and a grand way to bring her high school cross country racing to a close.

Schofield held off Isabel's Sandra Frank for 30th place. Schofield also ran her course best of 18:05, bettering her '06 finish by 45 seconds. Stangle ended her race hot on the heels of McIntosh's Tiann Schell for 34th place, also running her course best of 18:52. The girls' team improved two positions this year, finishing in fifth place behind White River (last year's champs) in fourth, Lemmon in third, McIntosh in second and 2007 regional champs Kadoka.

Philip's lone runner in the boy's junior varsity was seventh grader Tyler Dekker. He began his race in fifth place. Running hard the entire race paid off, as he overtook Takini's Keiko Iron Hawk to finish his race in fourth place and improve his course best by 30 seconds for a finish time of 17:01.

The Scotties have had a great year. We will miss Bartels, our only senior. She did a great job captaining her team all year. Now look for state qualifiers - three time A. Iwan, two timers K. Iwan and Pekron and first time H. Iwan - at the state meet on Saturday, October 20th, at Huron.