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Cross Country

Milbank boys, CLW girls win 1A titles, Roncalli girls qualify team

Members of the Aberdeen Roncalli girls cross country team take off at the start of the Region 1A girls varsity race Wednesday at the Webster Golf Course. The Cavaliers qualified their team for next week's state meet. Photo by John Davis taken 10/11/2023

WEBSTER – It was a day of mixed emotions for the Aberdeen Roncalli cross country programs Wednesday, as the Cavalier girls punched state meet tickets all around, while the boys’ squad swallowed a dose of disappointment at the Region 1A meet at the Webster Golf Course.

After finishing third on the same course at the Northeast Conference meet just one week prior, the Roncalli girls duplicated that finish Wednesday, finishing just nine points behind second-place Milbank Area and well ahead of fourth-place Deuel.

The Cavaliers also put all five of their runners in the top 20 for good measure. The top three teams and 20 individuals from each region earn spots at the state meet.

“The girls did a good job,” said Roncalli coach Brady Lesnar. “They came and competed. I’m proud of all their efforts.”

Roncalli was led by Addison Cassaday’s fifth place finish, followed by Hazel Kannegieter in 10th. Sisters Paige and Sarah Schmidt were 13th and 14th, respectively, while Claire Peterson finished in 18th.

“It was good to have five girls in the top 20,” Lesnar said. “It’s a tough field with Milbank and Clark, who also had four or five in the top 20. We’re very fortunate they’re competing at the level they’re competing.”

Milbank Area’s Ashlynn Batchelor, right, gets to the early lead at the start of the Region 1A girls varsity cross country race Wednesday at the Webster Golf Course. Photo by John Davis taken 10/11/2023

Clark-Willow Lake captured the team crown with 25 points, while Milbank’s Ashlynn Batchelor was the runaway victor in the individual competition. Kamryn Nesheim of CWL was runner-up.

But while the Cavalier girls had plenty to celebrate after their race, it was a much different feeling for the Roncalli boys, who were on the outside looking in following the conclusion of their race. 

The Cavaliers finished fourth overall with one top-20 finisher and three just outside the top-20.

“We felt pretty good going into the meet,” Lesnar said, but acknowledged there was a taste of disappointment at the end of the day. “Just didn’t have our best race today. That’s how it goes. We have that one opportunity.”

Aberdeen Roncalli’s Paul Gutenkauf runs for the finish line during the Region 1A boys varsity cross country race Wednesday at the Webster Golf Course. Photo by John Davis taken 10/11/2023

Paul Gutenkauf earned his spot in the state meet with an eighth place showing. Teammates Matthew Peterson, Ben Bradley and Isaac Price finished in spots 22, 23 and 24, respectively. 

Lesnar said while the disappointment was certainly evident amongst those three, the future is also bright for them.

“Hopefully we can learn from it,” he said. “They’re young guys.”

Milbank claimed four of the top five spots in the individual standings with runner-up Kaleb Foltz of Tri-State breaking up the near-perfect score. Payton Brown earned medalist honors with a 29-second win over Foltz.

Milbank Area’s Payton Brown runs in the lead during the Region 1A boys varsity cross country race Wednesday at the Webster Golf Course. Photo by John Davis taken 10/11/2023

In the team race, Deuel and Clark-Willow Lake tied for second with 62 points, while Roncalli – third at the NEC meet a week ago – slid to fourth with 65 points.

Wednesday’s competition was originally scheduled for Thursday, but was moved up one day due to impending weather.

Lesnar said the change had no real bearing on the outcome of the day, noting his team likely wouldn’t have changed much in terms of training.

“At the end of the day we have to be prepared to compete,” he said. “Maybe we could have gone a little lighter on some things or changed a couple things. But there’s no looking back now.”

The Class A state championships are set for Oct. 21 at Yankton Trail Park in Sioux Falls.

To see complete meet results, click on the following link:

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