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Scotties at State Cross Country Meet

Philip's three qualifying varsity boy runners for the State Cross Country Meet in Huron on Saturday, October 21, came in 62nd, 63rd and 101st. Philip's qualifying varsity girl came in 72nd out of a field of 119 runners.

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Saturday, October 21, 3:00 a.m. - it's time to get our team loaded up and head east to Huron to the State Cross Country Meet. This year we are taking five Philip High School students; four athletes - junior Brandy Bartels, sophomore Anthony Iwan, eighth graders Kyle Iwan and Zane Pekron - and freshman manager Kathleen Nelson.

Our four-hour-plus drive began at 40 mph across snow-packed roads and ice-covered bridges. The Scotties arrived at 9:30 a.m. to race on the Broadland Creek Golf Course. Temperatures in the high 30s and gusting winds kept the Scotties in sweats throughout their warmups right up to when the starter announced "Athletes, pull your sweats."

The girls "B" division championship race began the day. Bartels, running in her third state meet in as many years, represented Philip. With 119 of South Dakota's best runners lined up on a 60-yard start line, early positioning is very important. Just 200 yards from start a hard right turn breaks the pack down to a single column of runners.

At the break, Bartels was running in the mid 80s. She would work her way up through the pack to finish in 72nd place, with a clocking of 18:38. This is an improvement of 1:08 seconds over her previous Broadland course best, and 1:23 faster than her 2005 Rapid City State finish. It was also her best placement to date with an improvement of 21 positions over her 2005 placement.

After cheering on their teammate, the boys began their final pre-race preparations.

The boys "B" division race started at 1:00 p.m. Philip had three boys in start box number 19, alongside Region 5B champions, Takini. All three young men wanted to gain early position and to stay out of trouble rounding that first turn.

As he has in nearly every race this year, Kyle Iwan lead his team from the start. Anthony Iwan kept him in sight, and Zane Pekron worked hard to stay with his teammates during his first championship experience. All three began in the mid 90s in a field of 119 runners.

K. Iwan had set his pre-race goals very high. He used these to inspire himself to move steadily up through the field to finish in 62nd place with a final time of 19:25. He was the third eighth grader to cross the state championship finish line.

Also setting his pre-race sights high, A. Iwan was able to accelerate past runners from Baltic, Freeman and McIntosh in a race-ending sprint. He put himself in 63rd place with a time of 19:26. This is an improvement over his last year's state finish on the Rapid City course of 1:55 seconds. But, his position improvement was huge, moving up 42 places over his '05 finish.

Pekron used composure beyond most runners of his age to become one of only seven 8th graders to individually qualify for the state meet - a great learning experience. He pushed himself through the race to finish in 101st place with a finish time of 21:10. Pretty darn good for an eighth grader and first year at state.

"This has been a year of change for this Scottie team," said Coach Ralph Kroetch. "We are all very proud of our athletes as we end our '06 season. We thank everyone involved with the cross country program; it has been a privilege."