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Cross country runners appear to be in for a sloppy Saturday at Mandan Municipal Golf Course.

Steady, and possibly heavy rain, is a sure bet for the 26th Annual Mandan Kiwanis Invitational. However, more than 40 teams are saying, bringing it on.

“The golf course said go ahead even if it rains,” said Mandan girls cross country coach Hilary Feist. “Unless there’s lighting or heavy wind, we’re going to run.”

The meet, which features 42 teams, begins at 11 a.m. Cool temperatures and wet conditions come with the territory for cross country runners.

“It’s not the easiest for sure, but the kids know what to expect,” Feist said.

The Braves, coming off a fifth-place finish at last year’s state meet, have come out hot.

Led by senior standout Kelby Rinas, who is ranked No. 6 in the Class A girls poll, the Braves won their first outing of the season in Jamestown and placed second last week in Valley City.

“I think it’s been a great start,” Feist said. “The girls have been running really well. We had pretty high expectations based on how we did last year.”

Rinas and fellow senior Maria Moore give Mandan two experienced and accomplished runners. Last week in Valley City, Rinas and Moore, along with freshmen Acey Elkins and Anna Bendish, all placed in the top 10.

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“It’s encouraging to see how well the girls are running this early in the season,” Feist said. “If we can continue to improve, it’s exciting to think about where we could be when it’s time for WDA and state.”

Feist said cracking the top five at state again is the target.

“I’d say our goal is fourth,” she said. “There are a lot of very good teams. The competition is strong.”

Same is true individually for Rinas.

“We always have the goal of top five, top three would be ideal,” Feist said. “We want to see Kelby and Maria have really good senior seasons."

Competition figures to be stiff today with No. 1-ranked Minot and No. 4 Century among the field. Jamestown also will be in town, featuring No. 1-ranked and defending state champion Meghan Ford.

“Jamestown hasn’t come to this meet in a while so it’ll be fun with the great competition Meghan Ford and their team will bring,” Feist said.

The boys’ race will include No. 2 Century and fourth-ranked Bismarck High. No. 1 Williston and fourth-ranked Dickinson will not be competing.

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Reach Tribune sports editor Dave Selvig at (701) 250-8246 or david.selvig@bismarcktribune.com

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