SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Nebraska's No. 1-ranked Class A girls cross country team proved Saturday that is pretty good against Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota competition, too.
Fremont High School captured top honors in the Augustana Twilight Meet at Yankton Trails. Fremont finished with 87 points in the meet that featured 25 teams. Lincoln Sioux Falls was second with 129 while Custer was third with 134.
"As a team, we were very excited to break the rust off and race other teams for a change instead of against ourselves," Fremont coach Jake Smrcina said. "We were definitely in a different environment of expectations this year heading to Augustana, after winning the varsity race last year in a surprise performance to start the year. The girls definitely answered the call, though. They were able to step into their first racing experience of the year and walk away with some really quality performances."
Fremont had six runners finish between 16th and 32nd place in the field of 192 athletes.
"Most of the competition in the girls varsity race was from South Dakota, including five of the top six teams from their top two classes last year," Smrcina said. "But as always, we really focused on going into the race emphasizing our strengths from training and executing our race plan."
Sophomore Elli Dahl led the way by placing 16th in 18:56.64. Mara Hemmer was 19th in 19:11.93 while Myia Johnson (19:13.62) and Emily Nau (19:15.50) were 22nd and 23rd, respectively.
"Emily made a really nice move around 2,000 meters to close the gap on our front pack," Smrcina said."Myia showed her experience and senior composure as she ran really well ... in what ended up being her best race ever."
Sophomore Lucy Dillon placed 31st in 19:31.81 while teammate Shelby Bracker was 32nd in 19:32.43.
"Lucy and Shelby worked together and slowly moved up through the field on the second and third loop before they started absolutely flying in the final 1,000 -- as if they were running downhill," Smrcina said. "Although they looked in control early, I didn't know what to expect, but they truly impressed with their aggressiveness in that last loop."
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Smrcina said Dillon and Bracker ran the final 1,000 in 3:36.
"That might be the fastest 1,000 that I've ever coached," he said. "Their dash to the finish sealed the deal on the team race for us and kept our team score under 100 for the second-straight year."
There was only a 36-second difference from Dahl to Bracker.
"That was outstanding and something that I was really proud of," Smrcina said. "That (depth) will be one of our biggest strengths all year."
Sophomore Alex Sasse finished 62nd in 20:10.61. Avry LaFavor (20:40.29) and Mia Wagner (20:40.79) were 75th and 76th, respectively. Madison Ustohal was 116th in 21:36.41.
"Overall, we were very pleased to come away with the team win again," Smrcina said. "The girls said they felt a little race rusty, which is to be expected, but they competed well and it will definitely be a momentum builder heading forward."
In the junior varsity division, Madi Grosse led the Tigers by placing 23rd in 18:07.14. Jenna Knuppel was 32nd in 18:26.89. Janice Nelson placed 76th in 19:22.07 while teammate Allison Merrill was 79th in 19:22.75.
The Tigers host the Fremont Invitational Thursday at Valley View Golf Course. The freshmen/sophomore race is at 3:30 p.m. while the juniors/seniors race at 5.