Serafin, Durgan earn top-15 honors at state championship

By 
Jeff Schlapp
Monday, October 25, 2021
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TOP-15 FINISHERS Charlie Serafin, left, and Andrew Durgan show off their top-15 medals on Saturday in Missoula. Photo by Julie Serafin

When the cross country season began in September, best friends Charlie Serafin and Andrew Durgan set their goals to finish in the top 15 of the State. On Saturday both Park High Rangers toed the starting line at the State cross country Championship held at the University of Montana golf course with their goals in sight.

The weather was cool and overcast, and as such not great for a round a golf, but perfect for running a 5k race.

Along with Park High, twenty-two teams competed with each team composed of seven boys and seven girls, meaning Serafin and Durgan would need to finish ahead of 139 other runners to finish in the top 15. The course featured a tough uphill section just before the runners hit the 2-mile mark of the course, otherwise it was a course featuring mostly flat land. Both boys ran the first mile and half stride in stride with each other, following a plan that Rangers coach Kirk Lentz has plotted out with them. When the top 15 runners had crossed the finish line, Serafin finished in 9th place overall and Durgan finished in 12th place. As a result both boys earned All-State honors.

“Andrew and Charlie performed superbly. We knew that if Charlie could run the way he has been the past few weeks, he would be All-State and he ran a smart and very solid race to finish 9th. Andrew was on the cusp going into the meet as to whether he would finish in top 15 or not. Fortunately, he stuck with Charlie as long as possible and with a mile to go, he was in 15th place. It wasn’t until the last 400-600 meters that he was able to draw upon his leg speed, pass a few more guys and secure 12th place by the finish, Coach Lentz said.

The boys team finished 10th overall and the girls finished 11th overall. For the boys, their finish may have been even higher but their third runner was out of the race due to illness and another top runner was out this season due to an injury. Carson Bekedam, Bobby Durgan, Terry Gasparakis, Augie Stern and Caleb Jergenson all had a personal best time or were very close to their best times to help lift the Rangers to their 10th place finish.

“Augie ran his best time of the season and ended up being our third runner today which is great as a freshman,” Lentz said.

For the Rangers girls, they also ran hard with most also coming across the finish line with personal best times. Fiona Alverson, Analeece Frederickson, Avery Johansen, Allie Kaliher, Haley Rigler, Sophie Sestrich, and Elise Wadle all competed for the Rangers.

“Sestrich and Rigler ran together the whole race and ended up with their best times of the season even though this is not the fastest course we have run. Alverson, Johansen, and Kaliher also ran very strong and ran either their best time or close to their best time for the season, and Fredrickson ran solid to finish her first ever cross country season, Lentz said.

For Serafin and Durgan earning All-State honors was a result of all their hard work they have put in during the past year.

“I’m so happy to have finished in the top 15,” Serafin said. Last week he was beat by .03 seconds by a kid from Hardin at the divisional meet, but was able to turn the tables on Saturday as he beat the same kid by .08 seconds for 9th place. “I didn’t know who was behind me, but I could hear him and knew he was close, I ran hard at the final 400 meters mark, then I just sprinted the final 200 meters. When I realized it was him at the finish, we both hugged each other and congratulated one another as well,” Serafin said. “I was also so happy for Andrew finishing in the top 15.”

For Durgan his top 12th finish was just as exciting.

“My goal was to just run my race and have fun. The hill at the 2 mile mark took a little out of me, but I was able to gather myself and I ran as hard as I could during the final 600 meters. I passed a couple of runners at the end and I was just so happy with my finish,” Durgan said.

For Coach Lentz this season was a huge success.

“It has been a pleasure to coach this group this season, they all great kids, very coachable athletes, with everyone working hard at practice to improve,” he said.

The Rangers felt the same way about Coach Lentz and assistant coach Bridget Kelly.

“Coach Lentz and Coach K are just awesome coaches. They are both so kind and they really care about all of us as a team,” Durgan said. “This was such a great team this year to be a part of, and I’d like to thank everyone who came out during the season to support us,” he added.

The future looks bright for the Ranger teams, with both Serafin and Durgan coming back next year and with the rest of the boys and girls having another year of experience, the expectations will be high. The girls will only lose one runner who competed at State, that being Kaliher, and for the boys all runners will be back to compete next year.

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