Running on their home course at the Paperjack Elementary School brought out the best in the New Richmond cross country runners.
Many of the Tigers ran career-best times during Saturday's running of the New Richmond Invitational. And the Tigers needed to be at their best. The competition was fierce in both halves of the race.
The New Richmond girls placed third and the Tiger boys were fourth among the nine schools competing in Saturday's varsity races. The meet featured the best teams from the Middle Border Conference, along with Hudson, Menomonie and Rice Lake from the Big Rivers Conference.
Five of the seven New Richmond varsity girls produced career-best times in Saturday's race. The Tigers have been targeting Menomonie as a team they want to catch by the end of the season. On Saturday, they finished two points behind the Mustangs.
"I think we're chipping away at Menomonie. We're enjoying the chaser role," said Tiger coach Beth Kelly.
Kayla Harris led the Tigers, placing seventh with a career-best time of 19:57. Willa Rogers ranked tenth and Barb Kling 14th. The biggest improvement for the girls came from Maggie Bau. She cut more than a minute off her best time to place 16th in the race. Colette Harrold placed 20th as the Tigers' fifth runner. Erika Emerson and Amanda Johnson ran together and they both produced career-bests to place 24th and 26th.
Coach Kelly said Lauren Johnson also ran extremely well in the junior varsity race.
"There'll be competition for the last few varsity spots in the conference and sectional lineups," Kelly predicted.
New Richmond's boys placed fourth, but saw they've got substantial ground to make up if they want to overtake Osceola at the Middle Border Conference meet. The Chieftains won Saturday's meet with 53 points, while the Tigers were fourth with 93 points.
"Osceola lost us early in the race. They put on a clinic in how to pack run," Kelly said. "I believe we can (catch Osceola). We just have to be in position throughout the entire race."
The Tigers didn't run badly. Senior Dylan Wachter ran for the last time in front of the home crowd and took second place with a career-best time of 17:31.
The Tigers then had a pack of runners, with Max Fore, Chase Chiarle, Tyler Harris, Joe Smallidge and Caleb Anton finishing in a pack from 21st to 27th. Harris cut more than a minute from his personal best time and Smallidge also ran his best time. So did Darrian Garrett in the JV race.
The Tigers finish their regular season schedule this Saturday, when they run at the Old Abe Invitational at Eau Claire Memorial.