By Scott Bormann
Saturday in Rapid City saw some great performances by area runners.
All three classes of the girls’ state cross-country meet were won by runners within a 30-mile section of Highway 50. Annie Kruse from Yankton won the AA crown, Laura Nelson of Gayville-Volin secured the B title, and Maddie Lavin brought home the State A championship for Vermillion.
The 4,000-meter course made two laps of the hilly course. The added hills over the Elks course that was originally scheduled to be run played into the hands of these young ladies.
All three champs were able to push the pace, forcing other top runners to drop back. Some of these other runners have wonderful kicks, so a flatter course would have left them more energy for final kicks.
As it turned out, the best performances were recorded by those runners with the grit to fight through the tougher hills.
Annie Kruse (14:03.31) won by 21 seconds over Tamera Gorman (14:24.81) from Rapid City Stevens. Defending champ, Savannah Woods of Yankton was third with a time of 14:55.01. Laura Nelson (15:06.03) won by an amazing 33 seconds over teammate and defending champ Genevieve Clark (15:39.98).
Lavin (14:45.38) won the closest race of the day with a two second victory over Mattie Shirley-Fairbair (14:47.38) of Lead-Deadwood. Nicolette Schmidt (14:49.98) of Redfield/Doland was only two more seconds back.
Getting off to a great start, Lavin quickly moved to the front of the pack in the first quarter mile. She practically led wire to wire.
“We were expecting her closest competitors to be Hailey Streff and Emily Hawkes of Madison, but that was not the case,” said Coach Kelly Fischbach. “Maddie had shaken them before the halfway point.”
A pair of seventh-graders from Lead-Deadwood and Redfield/Doland, Mattie Shirley-Fairbair and Nicolette Schmidt respectively, did come up to challenge the solitary Tanager. They drew even with Lavin with about 400 meters to go, but last years runner-up out-kicked them for the victory.
Maddie was “ecstatic” about the race, according to her interview with KVHT radio immediately following her finish.
Coach Fischbach could not see the finish line, so she had an anxious 10-minute search to find out how her star runner had done. Finally rescued by other local coaches from USD and YHS, she could celebrate with the Lavin family.
Coach Fischbach was happy with the course, which provided many spectator-friendly places to watch the course.
“They had paths cut through areas of tall weeds, so people could easily get from one side of the course to the other,” she said.
With the course being in good condition, she concluded that Robbinsdale Park was probably a better venue than the originally scheduled Elks course.
“I am super proud of her,” said Coach Fischbach about Maddie Lavin. “She ran her little heart out, and was deserving of the title. She is very deserving, and a very talented athlete with a bright future ahead of her.”