Decorah’s Brady Hogan nears the finish line with a sense of relief as the senior capped off a stellar career in fifthplace in the Class 3A boys’ race Friday. (Photo by Cindy See)
Decorah’s Brady Hogan nears the finish line with a sense of relief as the senior capped off a stellar career in fifthplace in the Class 3A boys’ race Friday. (Photo by Cindy See)

The best of the best raced at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge Friday and Saturday in the Co-ed State Cross Country Meet. Among them were harriers from Decorah, South Winn and Turkey Valley, with the Warrior squads making history as both the girls and boys team notched top three finishes, along with several individual making the deck with top 15 finishes.


History made

Several weeks ago, the South Winn girls and boys cross country team put their marks in the history books for winning the Upper Iowa Conference the same year. Now after Saturday’s state cross country meet, the Warriors have claimed another first as both squads finished in the top three in Class 1A to earn a trip to the deck for a trophy presentation in the same meet.

The Lady Warriors won their first state cross country trophy (third) in 2015, when South Winn and Turkey Valley were a combined squad. The next season, the united team once again made it on the deck with a runner-up finish. Since then, the two schools have once again parted ways and SW has narrowly missed qualifying for state since 2017.

As a team, the Warriors, ranked No. 4 before the meet, posted 130 points, with an average time of 21:15.3 and a spread of 3:32.0. No. 1 Hudson barely held off South Winn for the championship with a point total of 128 and an average time 21:16.3. No. 3 Iowa City Regina and No. 2 Pekin tied for third with 161 points, with Regina’s sixth runner finishing ahead of Pekin’s.

Entering Saturday’s Class 1A state race the Warrior boys were ranked third and finished the day third with 140 points. Team champion was top-ranked Madrid with 58 points, followed by No. 2 Earlham who had 70. 

“Both teams have a tremendous amount to be proud of this season. In a year with a great deal of uncertainty, our kids were able to maintain focus and positive attitudes from last spring, through the summer and throughout the season. Even when we had setbacks, injury and struggles - they stayed determined and positive. That is the key to success and these two groups met these challenge as well as any teams we have coached.  It was really fun to see them finish off the season with such a fantastic day,” said South Winn Co-coaches Kevin Kearney and Scott Conway. “In particular, to see our seniors — Jamie (Meyer), Toby (Conway) and Emma (Houdek) go out on such a high note was great. They have provided outstanding leadership over their careers and were key to the success these two teams have had.”


Medalists

It was the Upper Iowa Conference harriers taking the spotlight, with No. 1 Haley Meyer of Kee winning the individual crown in 19:11.3 in Saturday’s Class 1A girls’ race.

As a freshman last year, South Winn’s Billie Wagner had raced her way to a fifth-place finish. This year she was in the hunt for the title with Meyer, claiming silver and her second state individual medal in 19:19.8.

In a tight race to the line, Turkey Valley’s Jalyssa Blazek stopped the clock at 19:30.5, to claim her second bronze medal, her third in her career, at state. It marked three years of Blazek finishing in the top six.

Decorah also had a pair of harriers reach the deck as Class 3A raced Friday afternoon.

Sophomore and No. 5 Rebecca Anderson also grabbed her first individual medal. She was fifth in the team standings and sixth over in 19:05.5. Last year, Anderson finished in 21st place in 19:50.9.

Sixth-ranked Brady Hogan sealed his high school career on the course with his third-straight medal and trip to the deck with a fourth-place finish in 16:12.4.


Strong showing

The South Winn girls had a strong day on the course, in addition to Wagner’s runner-up finish as No. 17 freshman Josie Tieskoetter finished 14th in the team standings (25th overall) in 20:52.7.

Eryn Sabelka toured the course in 21:30.1, claiming 22nd in the team standings and 39th place overall. Despite finishing with just one shoe, Megan Hageman garnered a time of 21:42.1, good for 28th place (50th overall). Her other shoe had been lost mid-race when another runner stepped on her heel. Ella Willey’s 64th (102nd overall) finish completed the Lady Warriors team score. The sophomore crossed the finish line in 22:51.7.

In her first state meet, sophomore Anna Dietzenbach earned 67th in team standings (105th overall) in 22:56.4. Completing her high school career, Emma Houdek took 89th in the team standings and 132nd overall in a time of 24:01.0.


Third place

The SW boys finished the day with an average time of 17:52.9 and a spread of 1:16.9, to earn the third-place trophy.

Bellevue’s Brady Griebel, ranked No. 3, broke the tape in 15:52.2 to be crowned the individual champion of the Class 1A boys’ race.

Leading the way for the Warriors was 15th-ranked Jamison Meyer. The senior just missed a deck appearance for a 16th place overall finish (12th in team standings), posting a time of 17:07.1. Sophomore and No. 20 Omar Flores was the second South Winn harrier to cross the finish line, clocking in at 17:48.0, good for 21st in team standings (33rd overall). Completing his senior campaign with a 26th place (41st overall) was Toby Conway. He toured the course in 17:54.0 for the Warriors. Junior Isaiah Kruckman concluded his season in 37th place (59th overall) in 18:11.0. Rounding out the team score was Chance Adam. The junior toured the rouse in 18:24.0, taking 44th (70th overall)

In 19:33.8, junior Ethan Maldonado finished the race in 77th (117th), while sophomore Hunter Wagner place 103rd (144th overall) in 20:55.3.


A fine finish

The Decorah boys cross country team came into Friday’s meet ranked No. 7 and finished one spot better, placing sixth overall. The Vikes posted 173 points, with an average time of 17:14.5 and a spread of 1:26.8.

“This was a great effort by the team to be the best they could possibly be on the day,” said Vikings’ boys’ coach Brad Johansen. “I am very proud of how much progress this group made both mentally and physically this year.”

No. 1 Dallas Center-Grimes ran away with the team title with 87 points and an average time of 16:54.3.

ADM’s Nate Mueller, ranked No. 2, was the individual champion. The senior broke the tape in 15:28.7.

Adding to Hogan’s success on the course of finishing fifth overall was Arlo Hayes in 28th (42nd overall). The junior posted a time of 17:19.3 for the Vikings. Hogan Smith was the third harrier to cross the finish line for Decorah, taking 38th (54th overall) in 17:23.6.

In his first race at state, Bennett Schutte toured the course in 17:37.9 to claim 50th (71st overall). Completing the team score in 53rd (74th overall) was senior Noah Lovelace in 17:39.2.

Juniors Izaak Eichinger and Larsson Shockey crossed the finish line back-to-back in 70th and 71st (94th/95th overall). In his second race in Fort Dodge, Eichinger clocked in at 17:50.8k while Shockey posted a time of 17:53.1.


Steady progress

Ranked ninth in the final Class 3A standings, the Decorah girls battled the tough field to come home 14th in the team standings with 300 points at the state meet Friday afternoon. The Lady Vikes had an average time of 21:10.0 and spread of 258.0 in a race which was won by topped-ranked Ballard, who tallied 66 points and an average time of 19:17.9.

The Ballard sophomore duo of No. 2 Shewaye Johnson and No. 1 Paityn Noe took the spotlight, with Johnson winning the individual crown in 17:55.3 and Noe second in 18:01.1.

“I am proud of the effort our kids had all season. It was a season of a lot of unknowns, but they took advantage of being together every day,” said Decorah girls’ coach Cristy Nimrod following the race.

Decorah was led to the finish line by sophomore Rebecca Anderson in fifth place in 19:05.5. Crossing the finish line second was senior Leila Johnson, who has raced at state three time during her career. Johnson capped off the season with a time of 21:11.1 in 62nd place (87th overall). In her second appearance in Fort Dodge, Sam See toured the course in 21:41.9 to take 74th (100th overall). Madison Tollefson crossed the finish line 77th (103rd overall). It was the sophomore’s first run at state, as Tollefson stopped the clock at 21:47.7. Concluding the team score in 82nd place (109th overall) was Taryn Sanderman in 22:03.5.

Juniors Abby Halverson and Kryia Atwell came in close, claiming 84th (111th overall) and 86th (113th overall) places, respectively. Halverson toured the course in 22:13.8, while Atwell concluded the season in 22:20.2 at state.


Personal best

Turkey Valley senior Jaycie Byrne finished her high school cross country career with a personal best time and her highest state finish at 33rd, posting a time of 21:20.3.

“Jaycie will be missed next year. I am so glad I got the opportunity to be her coach throughout high school,” said TV Coach Sarah Bakula.