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Dion, Wagner look for strong showing at Class A state XC meet

WAGNER — It will be a new experience for all when at the Class A cross country meet.

The Class A girls’ 4K race starts at 12:30 p.m. Mountain time and the boys’ 5K race starts at 1:30 p.m. at Robbinsdale Park in Rapid City.

The race was moved to from Elks Club Golf Course due to the winter storm that went through the area, causing damage to the original site. This is the first time Robbinsdale Park has hosted a state cross country meet.

Several area runners will be competing, including Wagner’s Nick Dion in the boys’ 5k race.

Dion has had some trouble with a knee injury throughout the season, but Wagner coach Briana Fiegen expects him to finish in the top seven if his legs hold up. The senior finished 19th in the state meet last year with a time of 17 minutes, 59.72 seconds. Sophomore Trajan Holiday and freshman Ashton Zephier will also be competing for Wagner.

“The state meet is a whole different beast,” Fiegen said. “I have to remind the runners that it is going to be tougher than what they have seen.”

Senior Patrick Aeschbacher and junior Coleton Schuyler will both be running for Winner. Finishing in the top 40 for Schuyler would be a great finish, according to Winner coach Jayd Schuyler.

“The competition level at state is so much better than the other meets we go to,” Jayd Schuyler said. “It is interesting to see just how good some of the teams are.”

Eric Yager, of Hot Springs, will look to defend his title for the boys, while Madison will be looking to repeat as team champion.

For the girls, Mount Vernon/Plankinton and Ethan/Parkston are competing with team points at stake.

Individually, Chloe Bartels, of Winner, will be looking to improve on her performance from last year when she finished 25th with a time of 16:21.44 as an eighth grader.

“A top-15 finish would be a strong showing for Bartels as a freshman,” Jayd Schuyler said.

Bon Homme’s Maddison Hajek should also have a strong showing in the 4K race.

Spearfish won the girls’ team title in 2012 but has since moved up to Class AA, leaving the door open for a new champion.

Emily Hawkes, of Madison, is back to defend her state title, while eighth-grader Madisen Lavin, of Vermillion, will likely be a top-challenger for the crown.

There is expected to be over 700 student athletes running in the meet across three classes for boys and girls.