Rugby boys, Watford City girls claim Class B cross country crowns

Ray Maloney, Sports
State Class B Boys Cross Country Champions — 2009
Rugby High School claimed its first-ever boys state cross country championship Oct. 24 in Valley City. Members of the title-winning team include, front, left to right, Andrew Hershey, Garrett Thompson, Dylan Yoder, Wyatt Thompson, Kyle Volk, Erik Wangler and Dustin Jundt. Back row, left to right, Taylor DeMers, Tanner Bernhardt, Kyle Halvorson, Chris Hamilton and Noah Kraft. The team was coached by Bill Jansen.

VALLEYCITY, N.D. — For Rugby High School cross country coach Bill Jansen Saturday’s state meet was a weekend to remember in more ways than one way.

Jansen, who grew up in Valley City, returned to lead his Panthers to the state Class B boys title as Rugby tallied 64 points to finish well ahead of runnerup New Town, which scored 93.

Valley City (136), Grafton (186) and Parshall (191) rounded out the top five in the boys race.

Watford City won the girls title by scoring 82 points, while Griggs County Central placed second with 109 points.

New Town (156), Carrington (164) and Killdeer (168) rounded out the top five girls teams.

It was the first-ever state cross country championship for Rugby, which finished second last season.

“After our runnerup finish last year, our (team) began to see that a state championship was a possibility,” said Jansen, who also was chosen as the Class B boys coach of the year.

Rugby had five runners earn all-state honors by finishing in the top 20 at Saturday’s meet.

Kyle Volk and Dylan Yoder were the top two finishers for the Panthers. Volk covered the course in 17:31.62 to finish eighth, while Yoder was just behind in 17:34.07 for a ninth-place finish.

Erik Wangler (17:43.02) and Dustin Jundt (17:44.17) finished 13th and 14th, respectively, for Rugby. Wyatt Thompson was the fifth all-stater for Rugby. He finished 20th in 18:11.22.

“We haven’t had that kind of depth before,” Jansen said, “or the kind of talent that this team has.”

New Town had three runners finish in the top 20, including Justin Many Ribs, who was the individual champion.

“(A state title) for our program is pretty neat ... any championship is a good thing,” Jansen said.

“Being No. 1 all year, it was a relief getting through the season in good health and to run as well as we did,” he added.

Two other area runners also earned all-state accolades in the boys meet. North Border’s Bridger Belzer finished fourth in 17:15.97, while Easton Page turned in a time of 17:17.42 to earn a fifth-place finish for Carrington.

Belzer and the Bearcats finished eighth in the team standings with 262 points, while Carrington’s 485 points were enough for 16th.

Carrington finished fourth in the girls meet with 164 points, and placed three spots ahead of Rugby, which tallied 191 points and placed seventh.

Alyssa Anderson, from Leeds-Minnewaukan, was the top area girl in the meet. She placed fourth in 15:33.77 to earn her first all-state honor