Philip Scotties dominate Western Great Plains Conference cross country meet

Holly Iwan, left, earned second place in a time of 16:00 for 4,000 meters at the Western Great Plains Conference cross country meet. Ellie Coyle earned sixth place in her first ever varsity run, with a time of 17:01.

The Scotties traveled to Wall, Wednesday, September 21, to compete for highly valued conference honors.

This was a small but highly competitive meet with many of South Dakota's finest runners entered. Individually, several Scotties had a good day.

Boys' varsity ran at 9:30 a.m. with temperatures in the 60s and a light breeze. Philip sent a full team of five to the line for the second time this season - seniors William Coyle, Marcus Martinez and Kelvin Ferguson and freshmen Blake Martinez and Tristen Rush.

The Scotties' race plan was to let the opposition set the early pace. Early on, Coyle ran in fifth place with all four teammates in the 11th-14th places. As the runners started to string out, the Scotties started to move up. Coyle took the race lead just inside the first mile maker and never relinquished it, crossing the finish line at 17:06 for a 19 second improvement and his first individual conference championship.

Rush ran a very courageous race, as he ran through the pain of shin-splints, causing a grimace and wince with each step. B. Martinez ran with Rush the entire race as these two freshmen placed fourth and fifth with times of 18:06 and 18:09. This was a huge course best improvement of 2:03 for B. Martinez.

Ever improving M. Martinez, Philip's pusher for this day, earned the 11th place medal in his best race to date, clocking 20:10. Ferguson, in his second varsity attempt of the 2011 season, reset his course best by 44 seconds to place 18th in 22:50.

The Scotties team point count of 10 gave them the conference team title for the second consecutive year, over Wall with 11 points and White River's 30 points.

Varsity girls gathered at 10:00 a.m. to decide their conference standing. Our girls entered a full five for the first time this year. Senior Kianna Knutson, junior Holly Iwan, sophomore Allison Pekron, eighth grader Ellie Coyle and seventh grader Peyton Kuchenbecker.

Iwan paid little attention to Kadoka Area's Tia Carlson's early breakaway, but chose to lead the main group setting the early pace for her teammates. Iwan place second while improving her personal course best by 1:03. Coyle running on a rolled ankle injury pushed herself through the pain to place sixth in her first ever varsity race, clocking 17:01. Knutson, in her third ever varsity attempt, turned in what would prove to be her best effort to date to earn the 10th place medal with her time of 17:27. Pekron, the girls' pusher today, brought her "A" game as well running in an 18 second course improvement to place 22nd. A very disappointed Kuchenbecker, also suffering from an ankle injury, was a race time scratch.

A much improved girls' Scotties team closed the gap between themselves and the Kadoka Area Kougers; 2010 saw scores of eight points for Kadoka and 21 for Philip, while 2011 found the Scotties just four points back of Kadoka's 12 points, giving the Scotties the runner-up spot, still six points ahead of Rapid City Christian's 22 points.

All four junior varsity entries are junior high students - seventh grader Damian Bartels, and eighth graders Tyshia Ferguson, Garrett Snook and Keegan Burnett. The boys' first attempt at the Wall course and they all ran inspired races. Snook and Burnett worked together throughout this race to place fourth and fifth, and just one runner separated Bartels from his teammates in seventh place. The boys set times of 18:17, 18:21 and 19:29 respectively. Ferguson went out to improve on her course best. She did just that, clocking 26:50 dropping 21 seconds from her course best, to place fifth among the girls.

Overall the Scotties are starting to make better choices during our races, thus is giving them stronger finishes.

The Scotties dominated the newly established all conference awards by having five athletes earning all conference honors. Coyle, Iwan, Rush, B. Martinez and Ellie Coyle were Philip's award winners. Wall, Rapid City Christian and Kadoka received three each, with Lyman and New Underwood each earning one.