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Harriers please third-year coach...

Having already competed in two meets, one with a mixture of Class A and B runners, Burke Central-Kenmare cross country head coach Ray Sayler is happy with what he is seeing.

9/10/19 (Tue)

Having already competed in two meets, one with a mixture of Class A and B runners, Burke Central-Kenmare cross country head coach Ray Sayler is happy with what he is seeing.

First of all, Sayler said the cross country program, only in its third year, has come a long way and is now a solid team of competitors.

Secondly, he has four runners who are closely connected in their run times and any one of them can come out on top, it just depends on the course they happen to be running.

Sayler talked about the first meet of the season that was held in Stanley on Sept. 3.

“I was very, very pleased. It was the same course we ran on last year,” Sayler said. “There were just 34 seconds between the first and fourth runners.”

The Panthers actually finished second in that meet only to the No. 1 team in the state, New Town. Sayler’s top four runners finished 11, 12, 13 and 17.

Robert White of New Town was the top runner, followed by Noah Rolfe of Stanley. A Killdeer runner took third and New Town had the No. 4 and 7 runners.

But the Burke Central-Kenmare Panthers finished second because Mason Chrest, Reeve Froseth, Garrett Cook and Ethan Bakken were stacked so close together. Isaac Nelson finished the meet fifth in the Panthers line up.

New Town finished the competition with 36 points followed by the Panthers in a distant second, but second nonetheless with 86 points.

And Stanley, with the No. 2 runner in the meet, finished in fourth place with 116 behind Minot Ryan with its 96. Surrey finished with 119 and Killdeer, because it only had three varsity runners, was well back at 138.

“Those four are interchangeable, it just depends on the course,” Sayler said. “Ethan does well on the flat, Reeve does well uphill, but doesn’t relax coming down and Mason and Garrett do well coming down hills.”

Sayler added the Panthers go back to Stanley on Tuesday for the Northwest Conference meet which will have the same teams.

He is hoping he can push, or the runners can push each other to get into the top 10 by then.

The Mandan meet featured teams from Class A and Class B including some of the top teams in North Dakota in the mix.

See details in separate article on page 2 of this edition.

Sayler is also pleased with several new runners that joined the team this year. They include Skyler Ford, William Cook and Andrew King.

“I can definitely tell they’re wrestlers,” he said. “They have a different mentality. They go out on the mat and try to keep their feet planted. We have to get them to pick up their legs.”

But he said Ford did very well for a new long-distance runner, finishing in sixth place behind Nelson.

“I’m pleased with him running the way he is,” Sayler said. “And William did really well going downhill. And Andrew is a hard working kid. I couldn’t be more proud.”

He added he just can’t say enough about this year’s cross country team. He tells them to do exercises that will help them in meets but admits some of them are difficult. None of the kids come up with excuses. They just carry out his orders and make their best attempt to improve themselves.

As an example, Brea Chrest is a seventh grader playing volleyball and running on the cross country team.

“She runs on her own, 20 miles a week, that’s roughly three miles a day and she comes to practice on Wednesday,” Sayler said. “She just loves to run.”

Now that the Mandan Kiwanis meet is in the history books, Sayler would like to see Ford, King and Nelson build on their placements to make the Panthers team even more competitive.

He admits they are running against some tough competition, especially in Mandan, but it only serves to make his runners better and stronger as the short season unfolds.

“I’m very happy with our 1, 2, 3 and 4, but we need the others to move up,” Sayler said. “They’re running against tough competition.”

According to Sayler, he can tell who ran over the summer to be in shape for the season.

He said he talked to the kids in the spring about keeping up appearances throughout the summer, which in turn, would make it much easier to compete against the likes of New Town during varsity competition.

And when the season began with practice Aug. 12, Sayler told Garrett Cook and Mason Chrest to watch team captains Froseth and Bakken.

He called Froseth a good, natural leader and said both are good leaders and he will miss them after they graduate.

According to the North Dakota High School Activities Association, 10 runners on a team can go to state, if that team qualifies. But Sayler and his squad have set the bar a little higher this season.

“We came up with a time they have to break,” he said. “They have to break 23 minutes and have to do that twice. They’ve all done it once already.”

Sayler, who was a marathon runner himself and once competed in the Boston Marathon, said it should be an honor to go to the state Class B and by setting a time standard, it will get the kids motivated to run harder because they won’t want their friends to leave them behind.

There are 16 runners on the Panther team this year and Sayler, at 64, said he really wishes he could run with the athletes, but has had some knee issues in recent years and can no longer do it.

In addition, Sayler and assistant coach Fay Froseth, coach several Bowbells kids even though they aren’t part of the co-op.

“We don’t co-op with Bowbells. They are the Eskimos,” he said. “The co-op is the Burke Central-Kenmare Panthers. If Bowbells was in the co-op, we’d be the Kenmare -Bowbells-Burke Central Honkers. I coached track for 16 years so the Panthers is a big thing.”

The rest of the season looks promising, as long as the Panthers don’t suffer any injuries. And beyond this year, the team should continue on a winning path.

“Reeve and Ethan will be hard to replace, but we have several kids up and coming,” Sayler said. “This is a big change from three years ago.”

He gave Fay Froseth a lot of credit for being persistent enough to get the co-op up and running, which is now succeeding... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!