Scotties cross country team champions at Highmore

A 5:30 a.m. leave time meant for a short night's sleep but it proved worthwhile as the Scotties made a powerful statement at the Highmore Invitation Cross Country Meet Saturday, October 1.

Nelson Holman and Tristen Rush were returning from injury for the first time in nearly two weeks and William Coyle had fought fire for eight hours the day before, the only thing we knew for sure was we would be facing many of the very best B division runners of 2011.

The opening event of the day featured the very young runners, Josie Rush has been training with a half dozen grade school cross country athletes and raced for the first time. She placed 34th with a time of 11:30 on the 2,000 meter course.

A group of 44 runners started the junior varsity race, including Keegan Burnett, Garrett Snook, Damian Bartels and Kelvin Ferguson, who was returning to his team after a week off due to illness.

Ferguson, Snook and Burnett started near mid-group with Bartels choosing a more relaxed start. As this race wore on, it became obvious Ferguson had not fully recovered, but he would not give up, placing 24th with a finish time of 19:09.

Bartels moved up steadily throughout the race to finish 21st in 18:34. Burnett and Snook worked together to move up for the 18th and 17th places with times of 17:52 and 17:49, respectively. The boys' junior varsity team earned a third place finish.

Holly Iwan and Kianna Knutson represented Philip well in the girls' varsity race. Both girls used good judgement in the race with Iwan starting her race in 12th position and Knutson at 26th.

Iwan had set herself up in sixth behind a Mitchell runner with one mile remaining, using a strong finish, Iwan moved into fifth place with a time of 16:07. Knutson moved up to pace a Kadoka runner across the finish line in 17th place, and a time of 17:37. The race really gave the girls a good idea of where they are in their peaking process.

Coyle lead his team throughout the race. Blake Martinez paced his teammates early on as Rush and Holman and Marcus Martinez formed one mass of orange the entire race. Coyle had started his race around 12th place. As he worked his way up, he found the second through fifth runners had bunched up. Coyle moved around the entire group. At one and one-half miles out only one runner went on with Coyle. He held off a Wessington Springs runner in a sprint for third place at 18:14.

The orange group worked their way up the pack to place Rush in 13th, Holman 14th, B. Martinez 16th and M. Martinez the 19th place, with times of 19:36, 19:37, 19:46 and 19:55, respectively.

Coaching for the number of years I have, you would think I'd recognize when you put all five runners in the top 20 good things happen team-wise, but I was probably as surprised as anyone when Philip was called out as team champions. This was anyone's race as only four points separated the top four teams. Philip - 23, Wessington Springs - 24, Wall - 25, Dupree - 26, Miller - 37, Ipswich - 53, Wolsey-Wessington - 74 and Stanley County - 82. Three of the first four teams are from our very powerful Region 5.

This was an excellent test as we try to get everyone fully healthy in time for our home meet, Saturday, October 8, at Lake Waggoner Golf Course. The Region 5 meet is the following Wednesday, October 12, also at Lake Waggoner Golf Course, starting at noon.