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Top runners get set for state meet

The top cross country runners in the Mitchell area and across the state are heading west for the state cross country meet, which is set for Saturday at Hart Ranch Camping Resort in Rapid City.

Menno's Morgan Edelman, left, and Gregory's Emma Thomas, run the course at Valley View Golf Course Oct. 11 in Freeman during the Region 3B cross country meet. (Marcus Traxler / Republic)
Menno's Morgan Edelman, left, and Gregory's Emma Thomas, run the course at Valley View Golf Course Oct. 11 in Freeman during the Region 3B cross country meet. (Marcus Traxler / Republic)

The top cross country runners in the Mitchell area and across the state are heading west for the state cross country meet, which is set for Saturday at Hart Ranch Camping Resort in Rapid City.

In total, six races will be ran starting with Class AA girls at 1 p.m., followed by Class B girls (1:30 p.m.), Class A girls (2 p.m.), Class AA boys (2:30 p.m.), Class B boys (3 p.m.) and Class A boys (3:30 p.m.).

In Class AA girls, Mitchell will send seven runners, led by senior Jazmyn Brinkman-Wall and juniors TyAnn Hart and Annika Vermeulen. Eighth-graders Anna Driscoll and Alexis Haiar join seventh-graders Kennedy Olsen and Allie Vermeulen to round out the squad. Defending champion Sioux Falls Lincoln enters at the favorite, while Brookings' Ellie Abraham has recorded the state's top time, regardless of class.

The Class A girls race features plenty of area talent, most notably, Winner Area's Sidda Schuyler, who finished seventh at last year's state meet and enters with the second-best time in the state. Along with Winner Area, Chamberlain and Ethan/Parkston will compete for the team title with Mount Vernon/Plankinton and Wagner will send four and two runners, respectively.

Defending state champion Custer and Hill City are team favorites, while Vermillion's Maddie Lavin will look for a first-place finish after finishing runner-up the past two years.

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For Class B girls, Region 3B champions Kimball/White Lake will look to make some noise, but defending champion Ipswich and last year's runner-up Newell will be battling for the team title. Deubrook Area's Josie Olsen, last year's runner-up, is the favorite for the individual title. Burke/South Central's Lacey Person, who finished 20th, is the highest returning finisher among area 2016 top-25 state finishers.

Kimball/White Lake coach Stephanie McCord brings a team with four seventh-graders and freshman Sidney McCord, who won the Region 3B title. The other WiLdKats on the team include Christine Gaulke, Kate Havlik, Madison Heath and Josie McCord.

"Being as young as they are, we do want to go and run and have fun and see what happens," coach McCord said. "We finished ninth last year and with our team this year, if we could get in that top-half, I think that would be a solid finish for us."

Cougar boys after Class B title

In the boys races, Burke/South Central, the Region 3B champions, enter the state meet after the team title. The Cougars will be pushed by last year's state champion James Valley Christian, Ipswich and Freeman Academy/Marion.

Burke/South Central coach Laurie Kenzy said there's a certain unknown with the Hart Ranch course, which hasn't hosted a state meet since 2013 and has had the route tweaked from the regular-season race run there.

"It's a bit of an unknown but you just have to show up and run it," she said. "It is the sport. Our kids just have to keep believing in themselves and they'll be fine. They all have the tools to get it done."

Along with standout senior Kray Person, Burke/South Central will run junior Jesse Williams and sophomores Jackson Liewer, Tyson Mayer and Washake Vaughn. The Cougars were fifth as a team a year ago.

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Individually, Person, Gregory's Aaron Voigt and Bison's Daniel Burkhalter each placed in the top three last year and will be favorites for the individual title, but Burkhalter is the defending champion. Freeman Academy/Marion's Thaniel Schroeder and Mitchell Christian's Alec Nelson are area standouts that will look to build off medal positions from last year.

In Class A, West Central's Derick Peters is the heavy favorite to defend his state title and the Trojans should be in the team title race along with Custer and Sioux Falls Christian, last year's champion.

For Class AA, Mitchell will send seniors Jacob Jarding and Jared Mauer, freshman Lucas Moller, eighth-graders Carter Moller and Ashton Reimnitz and seventh-graders Porter Miller and Dawson Miller. Sioux Falls Lincoln is the defending state champion and heavy favorite with Jack Elliott and Andrew Lauer after the individual title.

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