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Defending a state title

Park high’s cross country team talks squad goals
KJ Schretenthaler
Junior Augie Stern nears the finish line at the Red Lodge race last week. The PHS boys cross country team placed first by three points.

Defending a state title is no easy feat. It takes a lot of determination, drive, and willpower to obtain the state title in the first place. Auggie Stern was a sophomore on Park High’s cross country team last year when they won the state title. In 2022 Park High came out on top and won the state championship.

Although Stern didn’t earn a place on the state podium last year, he explains in pretty simplistic, white and black terms how he feels about the sport. Cross country is a team sport, where, yes it’s a race, and it’s all based on your team’s time. With last year’s seniors such as Andrew Durgan, Charlie Serafin, and Reid Malcom gone this year,  Auggie answered if he thought their absence would mean less drive for the team this year. “I think the drive is definitely there,” says Stern. “But our team is a young team and we just don’t have the speed to do it at the back of the team and in the middle,” he explained.

Being the defending state champions makes the team more attractive to potential runners, Stern said. With more kids it makes the overall team better, “And then having more kids will push everyone to be faster because of more competition,” he explained.

With cross country the average main team is made up of seven runners. You don’t go to try outs to secure a spot on the seven-person varsity team. “It really just goes race by race. Whoever is the fastest seven in the last race is the varsity team in the next race, and all the races are just over three miles, so the calculations are easy,” he said.

Finn Schretenthaler, now a sophomore, was a freshman when Park High won the state title. Finn said that winning state “ felt pretty nice.” Finn is an outstanding case; as a freshman he already was on the varsity team and throughout most of the season he was third out of the seven. In the state title race, Finn was second place. His time was 16:42.3 for the 5K race. Like Auggie, Finn says that the “Drive is here” but he also says that “ it will be hard with the lack of seniors.”

Both Auggie and Finn say that we have the drive and the means to defend our state title, however, both say that Park High’s biggest challenge and contender for this year will be Hardin.

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