The Aberdeen Christian girls’ cross country squad is coming off a banner season and the Knights would like to hang a few more banners in the gym this upcoming fall.
Graduation took two members off of last year’s Class B state runner-up squad, but the Knights have three key runners returning and hope to make some more noise again this season. They are motivated to take the next step this year, according to Christian coach Noah Aderhold.
“There is that runner-up kind of taste in the mouth. We were right there,” Aderhold said. “I know the girls want to be back in a high place where they’re competing at that high-level again.”
The squad will be led by sophomore Rachel Beaner, freshman Kathryn Steiger, and eighth-grader Grace Steiger.
Beaner was 26th at last year’s state meet, while Steiger was 38th.
“Katie and Rachel were both really pivotal in our success last year,” Aderhold said.
He noted that the trio ran a lot this past summer and saw first-hand the benefits of hard work, which should give them confidence heading into this year’s campaign.
“Those girls know that the hard work pays off and gets you where you want to go,” Aderhold said.
While Grace Steiger does not have as much experience as her older teammates, Aderhold is confident that she will be able to step right into the mix this season.
“I know that she’ll do well,” he said. “She has a lot of tenacity and hard work ethic.”
While the Christian girls are primed for another big season, the Knights do not currently have the depth to be able to field a complete boys’ team.
Christian, which has won conference and region titles on the boys’ side in the past, will be led by senior Walker Larson who has been a staple of the squad for the past five years. He finished 35th at last year’s state meet.
Aderhold said Larson is one of the hardest workers he’s ever coached. Now the goal is to develop some younger runners to help him out.
“He’s kind of the lone gun slinger out here again this season,” Aderhold said of his senior leader. “We have some younger boys, seventh-graders and eighth-graders, who are pretty hard working and have a lot of talent. It’s not out the realm of possibility to have those guys step into that number two and number three spot and get us some team points this year. The first couple of meets we’ll probably just field Walker.”
Aderhold said the recent heat and humidity have impacted practices, but he likes where his runners are at.
The Knights open their season at a meet Saturday in Mobridge.
The coach is a big goal setter, establishing things for each runner at each meet.
“One of the things I like to do is before every meet and after every meet is talk to each of the kids individually,” Aderhold said. “What is your goal for this meet, where do you want to finish place-wise, time-wise or what do you want to improve on? After the meet is over we’ll talk again and kind of analyze where we fell within that goal and what actually happened in the race.”
Aderhold is looking forward to the upcoming season to see what Larson can do in his final year, and also what his top three girls are able to accomplish.
“I’m excited about the season,” Aderhold said. “They are three girls that I really have a lot of confidence in. If we’re competing and it’s tough and challenging and the race is close, I’d put my money on these girls.”
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