As the Valley City High School cross country team waited to start its third annual Hi-Liner Challenge race at Chautauqua Park Thursday, VCHS coach Brian Engelhard took note of the weather conditions.
Compared to the warmth that filled Valley City Tuesday, Wednesday's races were run in temperatures in the mid-40s, underneath the overcast and drizzling skies that lingered throughout the day.
"Welcome to the third annual Coach Knows How To Pick 'Em Day," Engelhard told the crowd of runners and parents at the starting line.
Despite the weather, the race, which featured Valley City's runners divided into competing teams, went on as planned, with the white team, led by April Berntson, getting the points win, which led to much excitement for the sophomore, who had been on the losing team the last two years.
The excitement was short lived, however, as after the race, Engelhard announced that a scoring error resulted in the blue team, led by Casey Engelhard, was the actual winner of the event.
The 1.5 mile race, held 10 days before the state meet in Dickinson later this month, serves as one of the more light hearted events on the team's schedule.
It is the last chance for a break for the runners that are going to state, but serves as a fun way for those that aren't going to state to end the season. After running, the runners and their families had a pizza party.
In the races, Casey Engelhard beat the rest of the boys with an 8:57 time as Berntson led the girls with a 10:32.
Berntson said though it was just Hi-Liner teams running, the race was still more competitive than the usual practice, partially due to the bragging rights at stake.
"We probably compete better this way, because we're trying to get the best spot on the team," she said.
But, per the weather, the uniforms in the race were far from traditional as runners bundled up in an assortment of long-sleeve t-shirts, hoodies, sweatpants, gloves, hats, and other clothing to minimize the chill.
Berntson said the difference in clothing didn't seem to affect runners, other than the clothing just feeling heavier.
It was the second straight year that the weather has been mediocre for the race. Last year, the team dealt with a thunderstorm, and ran during a break in the weather, coach Engelhard said.
Despite the fun tone, though, several runners looked at it as a continuation of practice leading up to the state meet.
"I tried to run about the pace I'm going to run at state," Casey Engelhard said.