Spearfish and Lead-Deadwood High School cross country teams did not lose much in the way of senior experience, and return a solid core of young runners set for the 2019 season.
Spearfish boys returning lettermen include a lone senior in Cole Hansen, along with sophomores Keenan Urdiales, Finn Hamilton, Max Ensor and freshman Jase Dee.
All five Spartans competed at the State AA meet last season.
Newcomers include sophomores Jason Palmgren and William Williams, Freshmen Evan Roles, Paul Hourigan, Evan Viergets and Mason Schlup.
"On the boys side, we only lost one senior, Rigel Roberdeau," said Speartish coach Andy VanDeest. "We will be looking to Keenan Urdiales, sophomore, and Cole Hansen, the only senior on the team this season.
The boys have five freshman and five sophomores this season so they will be looking to build on last season's 12th place finish at the state meet."
On the girls side, returning Spartan letter wearers are sophomores Jadyn Johnson and Halle Fjelland, and 9th-graders Josie Tobin, Brea Servaty and Laina Ornelas.
Johnson has qualified for state three times, Tobin and Fjelland two times apiece, Servaty and Ornelas one time each.
Newcomers are junior Logan Bunney and sophomore Ella Krushkamp.
The season's outlook for the girls is promising.
"We only graduated one senior, Angela Hovdenes, who was a great leader for these girls last season," said VanDeest.
"The girls will be looking to improve on their 15th place at the state meet last year. They will be led by Jadyn Johnson and Josie Tobin this year. Both have a great work ethic and will lead by example with hard work and focusing on team building," VanDeest said.
"Both teams are young but at the same time are gaining experience each week. The future looks good for both Spartan teams," he said.
Belle Fourche hosts the Black Hills Conference meet October 10. Coach VanDeest listed St. Thomas More and Custer as the boys teams to beat. Custer is the BHC girls favorite.
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Broadland Creek Golf Course in Huron is the site of the Class AA meet October 26.
Sioux Falls Lincoln and Brandon Valley are favorites in the girls division. VanDeest said Lincoln is the team to beat on the boys side.
Spearfish hosts the Northern Hills Invitational Friday.
Returning lettermen for the Lead-Deadwood Golddigger boys are senior Pratt Williams and sophomore Landon Williams. Pratt Williams competed at the State A meet last year.
Varsity newcomers are sophomore Logan Eisner, freshman James Pierce, 8th-grader Cope Williams and 7th-grader Ezias Nelson.
Trinity Brady graduated and is now competing in cross country and track and field at Southwest Minnesota State University.
Lead-Deadwood returning girls letterwinners include senior Isabel Ward, juniors Madelaine Rogers and Zariah Jones; 9th-grader Clarissa Heisinger and 8th-grader Sara Jones, who finished 13th at the State A meet in 2018. Heisinger qualified for State one year ago.
Newcomers are sophomore Emma Jones and 7th-grader Claire Hannah.
"We had four kids qualify for State last year," said Lead-Deadwood coach Will Malde. "Three of those return.
"We have more returning kids than we've had since I've been coach here."
Malde said experience and work ethic are team strengths. "We had good summers from six to 10 kids. I'm hoping for some good things this year," he said.
Pine Ridge hosts the Region 5A meet on October 17. The top three teams and 20 individual runners at Region qualify for the State A meet in Huron October 26.
Malde listed Custer and St. Thomas More boys and girls as the favorites in both the BHC and Region.
"Our Region is just so tough," he said.