—by Todd Thorson

The Roland-Story cross country runners finally were able to open their season last Tuesday night (Sept. 3) at Webster City. The girls posted a fourth place finish among 11 teams, led by Sarah Lunn who clocked in at 17:18; good for sixth in the individual standings. Sarah had an aggressive first mile in the 4K race and showed mental toughness and endurance through to the finish. The boys ran in 9th position in the 12-team meet, and did show about 30 second improvements across the board from last year’s WC meet. Spencer Dedic (35th) and Thomas Wilgenbusch (37th) paced the Norse with 5K times of 19:39 and 19:43, respectively.

"Overall, I was very pleased with our efforts," said first year coach Chad Gilroy. "Several of our athletes ran better this season than last year at this meet. This is a good sign to me because we are racing with some pretty tired legs right now. But that’s to be expected at this point of the season."

Rounding out the girls’ field for the Norse were Anna Halstead with a time of 18:15 and a 15th place finish. Cathy Narigon came in 30th with a finish of 19:07. The standout performance, according to Coach Gilroy, has to go to Taylor Smith, who ran 2:42 faster this season than last year, coming in 32nd and finishing with a time of 19:12. "That was awesome to see!" exclaimed her coach. And Traci Marienau rounded out the Norse girls’ lineup with a time of 20:00 and a 41st place finish.

On the boys’ side, Dakota Rusher posted a 20:12 for a 46th place finish. Cole Johnson was 61st at 21:11. Reid Selby clocked in at 22:15, and a 68th place. Tavender Jones and Ray Chung rounded out the varsity squad with times of 22:40 and 22:58, putting them 73rd and 79th, respectively.

Three R-S boys ran on the J.V. squad and posted career best times. Tyler Greenhaw (23:32), Riley Wilgenbusch (24:58) and Brandon Greenhaw (26:20) all had a great start to their season. Tom Schrunk also competed in the J.V. race and posted a time of 28:29.

Algona won both the girls’ and boys’ team titles, with totals of 45 and 32, respectively. The R-S girls finished with 115 total points (five ahead of host Webster City), while the Norse boys were at 245 (four ahead of Prairie Valley). Humboldt was second in the girls’ competition with 56, followed by Boone at 80 points. The Boone boys were runner up with 38 points, followed by Fort Dodge (65) and St. Edmond (103). Webster City’s boys came in fifth at 181.

Season Outlook

The Roland-Story Norsemen cross country teams have a solid core of upper class runners returning from last year’s squads. Coach Chad Gilroy feels that leadership and experience will help the Norse down the stretch in the championship part of the schedule. Maintaining focus and limiting "silly, nervous mistakes" will prove vital to the teams’ success this season.

The Norse girls have seven runners returning this year, led by seniors Sarah Lunn and Anna Halstead. Coming into the start of the 2013 campaign, the Norsemen are ranked 12th in Class 2A, and Coach Gilroy is looking forward to seeing what this team can accomplish over the next couple of months.

The R-S boys could have a very strong year as well, if all falls into place. Led by senior Thomas Wilgenbusch and junior Spencer Dedic, the Norse have shown a strong intensity to compete in the early going. All of the runners have performed well during practice sessions.

"The athletes have shown some real toughness by gutting out some of our early season workouts," commented Coach Gilroy. "If we stay healthy and focused there is no doubt in my mind that we’ll have a successful season."