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Byers leads Class A pack into the state meet

HURON -- Chamberlain's Ella Byers is on the doorstep of history once more. The Cubs sophomore is among the favorites in the Class A girls cross country race, as Byers is one of five runners today in position to repeat as state champions. The Sout...

HURON - Chamberlain’s Ella Byers is on the doorstep of history once more.

The Cubs sophomore is among the favorites in the Class A girls cross country race, as Byers is one of five runners today in position to repeat as state champions. The South Dakota State Cross Country meet will be held today in Huron starting at noon at Broadland Creek Golf Course in Huron.

Byers is undefeated in nine races for Chamberlain this season, including her season-best time of 18 minutes, 14 seconds in the Region 4A meet run on her home course in Oacoma.

But Byers can expect a couple of strong challengers in the race. Vermillion’s Maddie Lavin, who won the Class A girls title in 2013, was second a year ago and is one of the state’s top distance runners. Locally, Winner Area’s Sidda Schuyler and Todd County’s Kelsie Herman have raced plenty with Byers and have put together strong performances throughout the season, as well.

If she were to win today, Byers would be the first Class A girls repeat champion since Kelsey Barrett of Britton-Hecla won three times in a row from 2009-11 and only the second Class A repeat champion in the last 20 years.

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Here’s some more storylines to watch at today’s meet:

  • The Ipswich dynasty: The Tigers can probably be penciled in for another Class B girls state championship. Led by standout senior runner Macy Heinz, Ipswich is closing in on its seventh straight Class B championship. The all-time girls title streak is eight, held by Rapid City Stevens, which did it from 1993 to 2000. In the Tigers’ Region 4B title victory last week, Ipswich had the top three runners in the race (Heinz, Aleah Steger and Tessa Kilber) and scored the minimum number of team points: six.

  • The defending champions: Including Ipswich, all six team championships are in position to be defended. Custer and Sioux Falls Lincoln are seeking to defend titles in Class B and Class AA, respectively. James Valley Christian, West Central and Sioux Falls Roosevelt defending champions on the boys side, as well.

  • Up in the air: The Class B boys race should be among the more interesting races of the day, with Bison’s Daniel Burkhalter in position to defend his individual title from a year ago.

  • Familiar course: For most of the runners in today’s races, Broadland Creek won’t have too many surprises. This is the seventh time in the last 12 years that the state meet has been held in Huron, including every even year since 2008. Runners had time on Friday to familiarize themselves with the course, as well.

  • Kernel contenders: Mitchell shoot to finish in the top half of the field as a team and bring the season to a close with a high note. The Kernel girls were 16th a year ago but are led by senior Mary Krause, who could find the top-25 podium. The rest of Mitchell’s girls team includes Jazmyn Brinkman-Wall, Alexis Haier, Avia Haley, TyAnn Hart, Annika Vermeulen and Hannah Ziebarth. Mitchell was 12th as a team in the boys race last season but are led by Lucas Moller, Kelton Vincent and Jacob Jarding with eyes on a strong finish. The remainder of the boys team includes Russell Duley, Jared Mauer, Gage Nelson and Ashton Reimnitz.

Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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