Relays are a rare occurrence in cross-country, but the teams that run at the annual Menomonie Relays love the format.

New Richmond and St. Croix Central both ran at the 2019 rendition of the Relays on Saturday and the series of races helped coaches get a better grasp on where their teams stand against many of the best teams in western Wisconsin.

With most of the Big Rivers Conference schools competing, along with strong programs like La Crosse Logan, the Tigers and Panthers were running in a sectional tournament-like setting. This meet pushed that competition to a higher level. The top two runners from each team competed in one race. Then the 3-5 runners in another race, and the 6-8 runners in another.

The Central girls ranked fourth and New Richmond was sixth among 11 teams in their race. In the boys race, it was New Richmond taking fourth and Central sixth.

Both schools had a top five finish. In the girls race, St. Croix Central freshman Kaitlyn Carlson took third place and among the boys, New Richmond junior Cale Bishop placed fourth.

The New Richmond boys showed their abilities, being within striking distance of Hudson and Eau Claire Memorial, which ran second and third. With Bishop and Tyler Harris, who took 12th, the Tigers have a consistent 1-2 punch. The lineup is filling in around them. Senior Chase Chiarle made a vast step up from the Tigers’ opening meet. He was the team’s third finisher. Tiger coach Beth Kelly said Chiarle beat three Eau Claire Memorial runners who beat him in the opener.

Kelly said Chiarle suffered a broken leg in the 2018 track season and said he is now getting back to the ability he showed as a sophomore.

Another surprise for the Tigers was sophomore Aidan Johnson. He was listed as the team’s eighth runner, but moved up to be the team’s fifth finisher.

The Central boys finished just behind New Richmond. Central coach Bill Emery said the boys are showing the progress that’s on schedule for their season plans. Emery was enthused by the showing of senior Erik Collins, who was two seconds away from breaking the 18-minute barrier.

Hunter Feyereisen also made nice progress in Saturday’s race, moving up to finish as the Panthers’ sixth runner.

For the Panther girls, they were able to finish fourth Saturday despite only have five girls available to compete. With Kaitlyn Carlson and Mya Kizer, the Panthers have a tandem that can be as good as any in the area. Sydney Carlson was the Panthers’ third runner. Emery said she is battling leg issues that limit her availability to compete.

New Richmond’s girls had three runners finish under 22 minutes. That included freshmen Ceanna Dietz and Anna Fitzgerald and junior Kayla Harris. Senior Colette Harrold also stepped up her time to serve as the team’s fourth runner.

New Richmond and St. Croix Central face each other frequently during the season. They will be competing at the same meet again this Saturday, when they head into Minnesota to run in the Milaca Mega Meet.