Both Bulldog teams raced in South Dakota’s 2023 State Cross Country Meet on Saturday, October 21, in Sioux Falls. The boys team brought home fourth place, and the girls took ninth. They competed in what Coach Eric Townsend said he considers “possibly the most talented Class A field ever.” Payton Brown captured third place in the state in a field of 125 runners. Ashlynn Batchelor came in fourth amongst 126 competitors.
Hill City was named champion of all the boys teams. Sioux Falls Christian won the title for the girls. Senior Corrinne Braun of SF Christian won the girls race in 18:02.59. Senior Luke Rupert of Hill City won the boys race in 15:26.51. He eclipsed Brown by only 15 seconds. The second-place runner, Lane Krautschun of Belle Fourche, was less than five seconds ahead of Brown.
With Payton Brown’s third-place finish, James Batchelor at 23rd, and Bryan Meyer at 24th, it marked only the second time in MHS history that three Milbank runners placed in the top-25 and brought home medals.
Townsend commented, “To have four boys place in the top 29 in a 5K in the state meet with almost all four under 17 minutes is unbelievable! Most years, placing four boys that high would be good enough to be in the hunt for the state title.”
Townsend added, “I am extremely proud of and happy about how our four senior boys – Payton Brown, James Batchelor, Isaac Graham, and Grant Van Peursem – ran at the state meet and finished out their cross country careers.”
Payton Brown capped off a third consecutive top-25 state finish. James Batchelor returned to the podium for the second time in three seasons. Bryan Meyer ran the best race of his career. Isaac Graham also ran his best race ever and, at 29th, just missed the top medalist honors. Grant Van Peursem also ran his fastest time of the season. Beckham Berry had a strong ending to his freshman year.
Liam Heller, a freshman who had a solid season, and Bennett Graham, another freshman who showed much promise in his first cross country season ever, served as the alternates. Townsend applauded the entire team for its successful year and said it was the third time in four seasons the Bulldogs had placed in the top six at State.
Individual Scores for the Bulldogs
Senior Payton Brown – Third Place- 15:42.41
Senior James Batchelor – 23rd – 16:46.29
Junior Bryan Meyer – 24th – 16:46.50
Senior Isaac Graham – 29th – 17:07.78
Freshman Beckham Berry – 90th – 18:49.47
Senior Grant Van Peursum – 99th – 19:06.63
- Hill City–26 (Average Time 15:58.01)
- SF Christian–54 (16:26.10)
- Belle Fourche–66 (16:31.51)
- Milbank– 69 (16:38.25)
- Custer– 83 (16:48.79)
- Dakota Valley–88 16:48.81
- West Central–111 (17:02.69)
- Vermillion–124 (17:20.87)
- Miller–139 (17:22.70)
- Lennox–165 (17:40.41)
The Lady Bulldogs placed ninth in Class A as a team and Ashlynn Batchelor came in fourth place to collect a top-25 medal. Ashlynn’s fourth-place finish was the highest by a female runner from Milbank since Taylor Tillma in 2008. It was also Ashlynn’s best time ever on a 5K course.
The Lady Bulldogs entered two senior runners in the state meet. Kynlee Speidel ran one of her best times of the season, and Stella Wendland also completed an outstanding year. “For us to have placed as high as we did and run as well as we did shows we are amongst some of the very best in the state,” Townsend observed.
In her first state meet, Ella Koplin placed 66th to finish a very strong seventh-grade season. Zayda Townsend placed 88th in her first state meet by running her fastest time of the season. Junior Tyra Berry placed 102nd. She also pushed her time to one of her fastest of the season.
The alternates –Stella Wendland, another senior who had a great senior season, and Macy Mueller who has improved much from a year ago – served as the alternates. Townsend said, “These eight runners, along with the rest of the team, finished out another strong cross country season by placing in the top 10 in Class A for the sixth time in seven consecutive years.
Individual Scores for the Lady Bulldogs –
Sophomore Ashlynn Batchelor – Fourth Place 18:32.98
Eighth grader Bianca Berry – 35th 20:05.61
Seventh grader Ella Koplin – 66th 21:06.39
Freshman Zayda Townsend 88th 21:39.47
Senior Kynlee Speidel – 95th 21:52.32
Junior Tyra Berry – 102nd 22:-01.66
Top 10 Teams
SF Christian– 27 (Average Time d18:47.14)
Sioux Valley– 74 (19:34.82)
Kimball-White Lake–94 ` (19:51.12)
Hill City– 121 (20:11.17)
Clark-Willow Lake–137 (20:19.32)
West Central–143 (20:26.01)
Milbank– 145 (20:21.12)
Belle Fouche–168 ( 20:43.04)