Midway through Friday's Minot Rabbit Run, Minot High School senior Samantha Huether and Surrey sophomore Allison Klein had a comfortable lead on the rest of the cross country field.
Klein set the early pace and Huether tucked in behind her before blowing open a huge gap and winning the season opener in 17 minutes, 24.29 seconds.
Huether allowed Klein to gain separation on the first few hills, but proved too strong in the 4K (2.48-mile) race at the Maysa Arena Grounds. Velva junior Cassidy Peterson finished second in 18:13.87. Stanley sophomore Tess Hoherz and Klein followed in the next 10 seconds.
Minot High School senior Samantha Huether runs patiently behind Surrey sophomore Allison Klein during the Minot Rabbit Run at Maysa Arena Grounds on Friday.
"It's a good starting time," Huether said. "I'd like for it to be lower, but I'll get there throughout the season."
The MHS leader impressed first-year coach Shannon Bushnell.
"She started out fine because she ended fine," Bushnell said. "Yeah, that was good (that Klein) pushed Sam at the beginning. Sam really wanted to catch her."
While Klein went out too fast, Peterson took a slower approach early, powering up hills and making up ground late on the pack behind Huether.
"I live at the top of a hill, so I have to run it a lot, so I'm a little better at that part," Peterson said. "I saw (Huether) up there. I was like, at a point, I can catch her, but she just kept going and I was like, well, maybe next time."
MHS boys finish in strong pack
The top five finishers in the boys race came from MHS. Sophomore Christopher Stock edged junior Andrew Beach by two seconds, winning in 14:16.05.
Seniors Dylan Weber (14:51.53) and Erik Goodman (15:01.57) and junior Billy Sartwell (15:08.93) rounded out the top five.
"It was kind of fun to have a race where you have a bunch of guys in it and you don't know who's gonna win it," MHS coach Aaron Klingbeil said. "Chris came out running well and any one of those guys could have won that race."
Stock was hoping to lead from the start, but wisely waited as a few lower finishers raced out too quickly. About 1.75 miles in, Stock opened a small gap ahead of Beach and Weber.
"When I got the lead, I just went for it and took it away," Stock said. "It felt pretty good."
Beach enjoyed running with the group and believes the pack mentality will be one of the Magicians' top strengths this season.
"We were able to push each other pretty well because we kind of have a rivalry around the season and it helps push each other to a good racing point," Beach said.
The MHS boys and girls will compete at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Mouse River Invite in Velva.