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Kraft wins elusive XC state title

Wessington Springs' Jase Kraft running during his Class B cross country state title performance Saturday at Robbinsdale Park in Rapid City. (Photo courtesy of Kristina Barker/Rapid City Journal)

RAPID CITY — Wessington Springs senior Jase Kraft broke away from the field and won the Class B state boys’ cross country championship Saturday at Robbinsdale Park in Rapid City.

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“In the last 300 meters the crowd was really loud and I just wanted to take it all in with this being my senior year,” Kraft said.

The 5K race was run on a course at Robbinsdale Park that none of the runners had seen before. The race was moved to the site after the blizzard a few weeks ago in western South Dakota left the original course unusable.

For full results for all classes from the state cross country meet, see Page B2.

Kraft conquered the race in 16 minutes, 55.10 seconds, which was 52 seconds better than second-place finisher Quinn Fargen of Elkton-Lake Benton.

Spartan coach Becky Bell-Krueger has worked with Kraft since he was in seventh grade and knows this was his goal from day one of the 2013 season.

“He is an extremely hard worker and very talented,” Bell-Krueger said. “I’m very happy that he was able to get this title under his belt.”

Kraft had finished second at the state meet three consecutive years behind Parker’s Duane Jongeling, who graduated last year.

“Coming so close the last few years I wanted to get it this year. It was something to check off the bucket list before leaving high school,” Kraft said.

Elkton-Lake Benton took the Class B team state title with 25 points, ending a three-year run for Parker, which finished fourth. Dell Rapids St. Mary finished second, while Philip took third.

Freeman Academy took sixth in the team standings, led by an 11th-place finish by Ryan Haggerty in a time of 18:26.10. Cole Hofer finished 27th for Freeman Academy with a time of 19:00.90.

Dakota Christian’s Owen Medicine took eighth, while Woonsocket’s Rex Schlciht finished 12th. Tyson Vogt was the lone runner for Burke/South Central and finished 20th.

On the girls’ side, Ipswich won its fourth straight Class B team state title with 14 points and placing four runners in the top 10, while Laura Nelson of Gayville-Volin took the individual title with a time of 15:06.03 in the 4K race. G-V’s Genevieve Clark took second, while Macy Heinz of Ipswich placed third.

Burke/South Central came in fourth place as a team with 59 points, led by the 24th-place finish of Lexie Fernau. Shailhyn Schweigert took 30th and Ryahna Schweigert placed 31st for Burke/South Central.

Rebecca Edwards of Freeman took 10th place with a time of 16:24.63, while Quinn Luif of Lyman and Reganne Engebreston of Platte-Geddes finished 14th and 15th respectively.