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FALL PREVIEW: Knights relying on youth factor

Photo by Sam Thiel The 2020 Russell-Tyler-Ruthton cross country team includes front row (L to R): Adalia Matzner, Hannah Diegel, Taya Christensen, Sara Dwire, Faith Thompson, Abby Carr, Kate Cowell, Jillian Schoenfeld and Elena Brandt. Back row (L to R): Alex Kuestermeyer, Steve Perslin, Lucas Kidman, Logan Roelofs, Aidan Johnson, Emmett Petersen, Colton Appel and Hayden Gravely. Not pictured: Olivia Lange, Maryann Pagel, Clara Pagel, Autumn LaBrune, Grace Klumper and Gavin Schuers.

TYLER — The Russell-Tyler-Ruthton boys and girls cross country teams will look to utilize its youth factor this fall, which head into just their second season under coach Chris Shaffer.

With just one senior on its roster, the Knights will be led by several underclassmen this season. On the girls side, RTR will be led by Grace Klumper and Faith Thomsen, along with Abigail Carr, Sara Dwire and Clara and Maryann Pagel.

The boys side will be led by Hayden Gravely. Also contributing to their times will include Aidan Johnson, Logan Roelofs, Colton Appel and Emmett Petersen.

“Grace and Faith were my two best runners on the girls side, so we will look to them for leadership,” Shaffer said. “On the boys side, the two returning runners are now ninth graders, so that’s a tough ask for them to show leadership but I do have Hayden who is a football player who decided to run cross country. He works really hard and he’s taken on a nice leadership role for us, so that’s been nice to have him step up and do that.”

Shaffer added he expects his team to continue to improve with each meet and build an overall love for the sport.

“We just want to get better from meet-to-meet and just learning how to run. We’ve got so many young kids, so just helping them learn how to run cross country and learn how to compete in this sport,” Shaffer said. “That’s probably the biggest thing, so that when they get done with the season, they say to themselves ‘Hey, I want do this again next year’ and that they enjoyed it and had a lot of fun.”

RTR had its season opener on Sept. 3 at Dawson-Boyd/Lac qui Parle Valley, where the boys team took fourth and the girls team recorded an incomplete team score.

Shaffer said he’s looking forward to watching the kids compete and get back into a routine.

“Just competing,” Shaffer said. “These kids haven’t competed for a long time, whether it’s in football, volleyball or baseball or track, so it’s going to be nice to look forward week-to-week and come out and compete against other and test ourselves and being a part of what high school sports is supposed to be about.”

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