An even smaller contingent of Pipestone Area harriers took to the flat, yet meandering Yankton Trail Park course for the 11th annual Augustana Twilight meet Friday night in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Pleasant temperatures and a 12-mile-an hour wind greeted JV, varsity and college XC teams from South Dakota and several surrounding states, making for some tight turns in the early stages of each of the six events.
The Arrows had five varsity runners in an elite field in the boys’ high school varsity 5K event and most ran better than last year, when PAS competed at the meet for the first time.
“I was looking at last year’s results for comparison and on the boys’ side pretty much all the boys, except one, ran exceptionally faster – which is pretty exciting to see,” Pipestone Area head coach Mark Moeller said. “Caden (Strasser) ran more than a minute faster, a 17:19, which is probably one of his better average times from last season. So, to see him come out that strong is pretty cool. Same with Aiden (Voss); I think he ran 30 seconds faster this year than he did last year at this meet. We’re coming in quicker, which is really fun.”
A two-time state-meet qualifier in Minnesota, Strasser was chomping at the bit in his second Twilight race. The PAS senior went out strong and held a solid top-30 position in the early stages of the run, before fading against a fierce field of 299 harriers. Strasser came in 78 overall with, as Moeller noted, an outstanding time for his run of the 2022 campaign.
Voss looked fit in pacing his way to a time of 19:28.75, good for 240th in the large field, while Landon Johnson (20:51.05), Lucas Zupp (21:06.08) and Merrick Heidebrink (21:23.08) followed in the 287th, 290th and 294th positions, respectively.
The Arrows had just two entries in the girls’ varsity 5K, as their top pair was out of the lineup Friday.
“On the girls’ side, I had a couple injuries last week so I decided to sit them out just to play it safe,” Moeller said. “I wanted to see what Taylor (Post) and Naomi (Wallace) could do, but on back-to-back days they tweaked their ankles … ‘you gotta be kidding me, I just broke my girls’ team!”
That didn’t stop Samantha Stokesbary and Brooklyn Goelz from clawing their way through the 256-runner pack. The former, just a freshman, was more than up for the challenge – placing a respectable 214th in a time of 23:41.05 – while senior teammate Brooklyn Goelz battled her way to the 232nd position at 24:55.76.
Sophomore Kaden Mastbergen was the Arrows’ lone JV boy to compete in the 4K event, coming in 248th in a monster field of 419 harriers. His mark of 17:36.01 put him in the middle third of the large group.
The Arrows largest grouping of the evening competed in the girls’ JV 4K event.
“I had about five JV girls race Friday and it was good to see,” Moeller said. “I ended up having Amelia Bucher, an eighth-grader run. I asked her on Tuesday if she’d like to run and she said, ‘sure,’ and she ran really well. All the girls who competed ran well, and it was good to get a baseline for the girls who ran and to see where we’re at right now – move forward from there.”
Bucher led the Arrows in the girls’ JV race, placing 138th in the 290-runner field in a time of 20:39.37. Freshman Alyvia Caskey posted a time of 22:31.45 in placing 220th, while classmate Aurora Winsel clocked in at 23:36.17 to place 242nd. Exchange student Paula Valdivieso and PAS junior Elizabeth Sanchez completed the Arrows in the event, placing 266th and 268th, respectively, with times of 25:08.39 and 25:10.32.
The Arrows will next lace up their racing shoes on Thursday afternoon, when they participate in the Panther Invitational in Tracy.