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Relays strengthen Panthers' faith in team

St. Croix Central senior Liv Moll, shown during the Panthers' recent home meet, was one of the top finishers in the Menomonie Relays on Sept. 9. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

The Menomonie Relays put equal pressure on all the runners throughout a team, because they are competing against runners of their own skill levels.

The results from this year's Relays, run Sept. 9, showed that St. Croix Central runners are able to compete at every level within the team. The Panther girls placed fourth and Central's boys were ninth in a meet that was comprised mainly of Division 1 teams.

Central coach Bill Emery said the Panther girls reached all of their goals except one, which was beating New Richmond. But in the team time total, Central was just 22 seconds behind New Richmond, so these two teams continue to show they are going to be major forces in the Middle Border Conference this season.

Medals were given to the top four runners in each of the races. Central's girls were able to earn four medals. Liv Moll, Marie Hamlin, Kourtney Labeause and Mariah Withuski all received medals for their finishes.

Moll showed no ill effects in this race after having to drop out of the team's previous race. Her time ranked second overall, finishing only behind Hudson sensation Rachel Ball.

Emery rattled off a number of highlights from the girls race. The most significant may have been the fact that this year's team time total was five minutes better than last year's, which was the first year that the Central girls qualified for the state meet.

Among the other highlights: Central defeated four Big Rivers Conference teams, including Eau Claire Memorial, which won this meet last year.

Don't let the ninth-place finish of the Panther boys deceive you. They were just three minutes behind fourth-place River Falls in a tightly-packed boys field. And the Panthers were competing without their top runner, senior Will Spitzmueller.

The news of the day for Central's boys was the performance of freshman Cougar Holder. He stepped up to run a time of 18:25 to finish as Central's top performer. Sophomore Erik Collins also ran well to finish in 18:32.

"We had four boys close to getting 18:30 and Will should be there too. On an average year, if we get all five guys running 18:30, we get to state," Emery said, giving the boys encouragement to know what the possibilities are for this season.

The Panthers are now in a lengthy break in their schedule. They don't compete again until Saturday, Sept. 23, when they run in the Roy Griak Invitational.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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