South Winn’s Billie Wagner leads a pack of harriers, including Jalyssa Blazek of Turkey Valley down a slight incline during the Class 1A girls’ race. Blazek went on to a third-place finish while Wagner cruised to fifth place. (Photo by Becky Walz)
South Winn’s Billie Wagner leads a pack of harriers, including Jalyssa Blazek of Turkey Valley down a slight incline during the Class 1A girls’ race. Blazek went on to a third-place finish while Wagner cruised to fifth place. (Photo by Becky Walz)

   Athletes from all over Iowa traveled to Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge with the same dream Saturday — winning a state cross country title, including harriers from Winneshiek County.

Completing the 5K course was a grueling task even for the most seasoned runners; however, a trio of local athletes managed to earn top-15 honors to medal. While none of the teams posted top-three finishes to make it to the deck, many of the harriers managed to turn in season-best times.

“We were pleased with the way our kids wrapped up the season. Our goal is always to put ourselves in position to challenge for the best individual or team spot we are capable of getting on that day. That is exactly what we did this weekend,” said South Winn Coaches Kevin Kearney and Scott Conway. “Everyone gave themselves an opportunity to compete with the groups they were capable of racing. We had many lifetime-best efforts as a result.”


Making the deck

One athlete from each of the area schools earned medals and a trip to the deck Saturday. 

At the start of the boys’ Class 3A race, Decorah junior Brady Hogan sprinted to the lead pack and remained with the leaders throughout the 5K. He crossed the finish line in 16:15.4, to claim fourth place. A year ago, Hogan had finished in 16:38.8 in 12th place. 

Turkey Valley’s Jalyssa Blazek shaved off over a minute from her 2018 state meet time to collect her second state medal. The sophomore made her way to the front of the Class 1A field early and went on to finish third in 18:54, a personal best by 36 seconds. As a freshman a year ago, Blazek had toured the course in 19:59.3, earning herself sixth place.

“Jalyssa went out with the front pack and never lost sight of them. She ran very competitively and it paid off in the end,” said Turkey Valley Coach Sarah Bakula.

Posting her best time of the season, South Winn freshman Billie Wagner collected a medal as well. Running with the lead pack, Wagner traversed the course in 19:02.6, the second fastest time in South Winn history. Her time earned her fifth overall in the Class 1A girls’ race.

 “Billie capped off an extraordinary season. She finished as Conference Champion, Regional Champion and an All-State Runner. We knew she would make an impact this year as a freshman, but she exceeded our expectations - not just the times/places she accumulated over the season, but she also was part of a remarkable group of inexperienced, young runners who all competed beyond what we saw early in the year. We are really looking forward to what this group has to offer over the next few years,” said South Winn Coaches Kearney and Conway.

Peyton Pogge, a junior from Tri-Center, topped the Class 1A girls’ field in 18:45.4.


For the complete story, stats and additional photos, pick up Decorah Newspapers at one of the many convenient locations throughout Decorah and Winneshiek County. Or, for 34 cents an issue, subscribe to Decorah Newspapers by calling (563) 382-4221.