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New Richmond runners ready to run with leaders at MBC meet Thursday

Senior Amanda Johnson brings a gritty toughness to the New Richmond girls cross country team. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

The timing, plus the quality of competition, has made the Old Abe Invitational a favorite meet on the New Richmond cross country schedule.

The Tigers competed in the meet hosted by Eau Claire Memorial on Saturday and the Tigers stood up quite well against some of the best competition in western Wisconsin. The Tiger girls finished third among 14 teams and the Tiger boys placed fifth among 16 teams competing.

The timing of this meet is important because it serves as a timely lead-in for this Thursday's Middle Border Conference meet. Tiger coach Beth Kelly said she used to go without a race the week of the conference meet. But when she scheduled the Old Abe meet, it quickly became an ideal meet to prep the Tigers for the conference meet.

Thursday's conference meet will be a major test for the Tigers. Kelly said she expects both St. Croix Central teams, plus the Osceola boys, to battle the Tigers for the top spots in the MBC this season.

The Tiger girls appear to be reaching full strength in time for the conference meet. They have an excellent top three in Willa Rogers, Barb Kling and Kayla Harris. They played 11th, 15th and 16th in Saturday's race. Kelly said a key to Saturday's success was the progress shown by Erika Emerson and Maggie Bau. They both ran their best times of the season. That allowed to cut the time spread between the first and fifth runners to under a minute, which is one of Kelly's benchmarks for success.

Rogers, Kling and Harris have all taken their turns as the lead runner for the Tiger girls this season. Rogers has been there the past several meets. She was 11th with a 20:04 time. Kling and Harris both finished 13 seconds behind her.

The Tiger boys have also seen changes in their lead runner. On Saturday it was sophomore Cale Bishop who stepped up. He led the Tigers by placing 12th in 17:22. Max Blader, Max Fore and Tyler Harris all had strong races, with all their times at 18:00 or lower.

Junior Andrew Kilibarda gave the Tigers what they needed on Saturday, a strong performance from their fifth runner. Kilibarda finished in 18:30, placing 51st. That's an improvement of more than a minute off his previous career-best time.

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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