SW junior Eryn Sabelka (left) and freshman Josie Tieskoetter (right) both punched individual tickets to the state cross country meet by finishing in the top 10 at Guttenberg Friday. (Photo by Becky Walz)
SW junior Eryn Sabelka (left) and freshman Josie Tieskoetter (right) both punched individual tickets to the state cross country meet by finishing in the top 10 at Guttenberg Friday. (Photo by Becky Walz)

Look out Fort Dodge — Winneshiek County harriers are coming.

Four county cross country teams qualified for the state cross country meet, by placing at their respective state qualifying meets last week.

Next up — a chance to earn a trophy, as all four will take the course in Fort Dodge for the state meet, Friday, Oct. 30 and Saturday, Oct. 31 (see box for details).


Your qualifiers

Decorah will send both its girls and boys teams to state. The girls will be running at state for the 29th time in school history with the goal of bringing home the Class 3A title. Ranked No. 8, Decorah pulled out the win in a three-way tie for first place at its state-qualifying meet, held in Waverly Wednesday afternoon.

The Viking boys, ranked No. 6, took third in Waverly to earn their 37th spot at state, tying for the most appearances by a school of any class in state cross country meet history.

The South Winn teams made history as Friday marked the first time both teams won the qualifying event in the same year. It was also the first time since 2017 and sixth overall, that the South Winn girls and boys both qualified for the state meet.

The girls, ranked No. 4 in Class 1A, punched their ticket to state, winning the Class 1A state-qualifier in Guttenberg Friday. The Warrior boys blazed the trail to post a score of 27 to win the title and advance.

The top three teams and top 15 individuals in Class 3A and the top two teams and top 10 individuals in Class 1A from each qualifying site earned a spot at state.


Continuing tradition

The Viking women produced a total of 81 points in a three-way tie for first place with Waverly-Shell Rock and Center Point-Urbana. By virtue of Decorah’s sixth runner placing ahead of the No. 6 runner of the other two squads, the title went to the Vikes. Only one Decorah harrier qualified individually for the state cross country meet, which will take place in Fort Dodge on Friday, Oct. 30. The Class 3A No. 8 Decorah Vikings produced an average time of 20:25 and a spread of 2:41.4.

Breaking the tape in the women’s race was Charles City’s and fourth-ranked Kiki Connell in 17:57.90, averaging a 5:46.9 mile.

Among the stiff competition, sophomore Rebecca Anderson punched her second ticked to the big stage, finishing second in 18:24.87. 

Just missing individual qualifying spots were Samantha See and Leila Johnson. See earned 17th in 20:45.14. Beside her was Johnson finishing in 20:45.70, good for 18th place. Senior Taryn Sanderman garnered 23rd in 21:02.85. Madison Tollefson crossed the finish line in 21:06.19 to take 25th place for the Vikes. In the deciding sixth spot for Decorah was Kryia Atwell. The junior toured the course in 21:22.77, good for 30th place overall. Rounding out the Viking contingent was Abby Halverson, who secured 32nd in 21:24.99.


Aiming for the top

Running in front of a large crowd, Decorah finished within nine points of first place with 63 points. No. 9 Center Point-Urbana claimed the title with 54 points. Earning second was fourth-ranked Marion with 55 points.

No. 5 Eli Larson of Center Point-Urbana was the individual champion. He toured the course in 15:40.52 to earn the crown.

The Vikings had three athletes individually qualify for state with the team averaging 16:47 with a spread of 1:21.1.

Decorah senior Brady Hogan, ranked No. 4, was the bronze medalist. He stopped the clock in 15:55.51 to garner an individual qualifying spot. In a close race to the finish line, Noah Lovelace claimed 10th in 16:46.30 to individually advance to the state meet. Hogan Smith blazed the trail in 16:55.87 to earn 14th place and an individual spot at state.

Arlo Hayes barely missed his individual ticket, taking 16th place. The junior had a time of 16:57.80. Concluding the team score was Bennett Schutte. He crossed the finish line in 17:16.56, good for 20th place.

In 21st place was Izaak Eichinger in a time of 17:17.78, as Larsson Shockey rounded the course in 17:31.86, good for 27th place.


Girls reign supreme

The South Winn girls haven’t punched a ticket to state in three seasons and dominated the field with three individual qualifiers as well with a point total of 46. Also moving on from the Guttenberg site was Kee High with 83 points.

Kee’s Haley Meyer, ranked No. 1, blazed through the course in 19:36.6 to be crowned the individual champion. Crossing the finish line second was No. 3 Billie Wagner of South Winn to earn her second consecutive trip to the big stage. The sophomore toured the course in 19:47.4 for silver. 

Also earning a state bid was freshman Josie Tieskoetter, ranked No. 27, in 21:02.6, good for fourth place. No. 25 Eryn Sabelka took ninth in 21:39.9 to be the third Lady Warrior to punch her ticket to state.  

Just missing an individual berth to state was Megan Hageman. The sophomore crossed the finish line in 21:59.1, to take 12th place. In her first state-qualifying meet, Anna Dietzenbach rounded the course in 23:23.8, garnering 19th place. Also, on the course for South Winn were Ella Willey, finishing 23rd in 23:45.9 and Emma Houdek who placed 27th in 24:01.9.


Boys rule

Making their fifth consecutive bid for state with the team title Friday, the third-ranked South Winn boys had five runners in the top 10, earning individual tickets to state as well.

The Warriors tallied 27 points with an average time of 18:10.2 and had a spread of 40.4 seconds. Finishing second and also qualifying for state with 45 points was Maquoketa Valley.

Maquoketa Valley’s Cy Huber, currently ranked No. 13, broke the tape in 17:35.3 to be the individual champion.

For the second year in a row, South Winn’s Jamison Meyer earned the silver medal, touring the course in 17:40.0. He is currently ranked No. 12 in Class 1A. No. 20 sophomore Omar Flores continued his strong running of late, taking fourth in 18:11.0. For the second straight season, junior Chance Adam will be at state. He claimed sixth in 18:19.2. Senior Toby Conway was on his heels in seventh place, crossing the finish line in 18:20.1. Rounding out the team score in eighth place overall was junior Isaiah Kruckman in 18:20.4, good for eighth place.

Other Warriors on the courses were Ethan Maldonado taking 21st place overall in 19:46.3 and Hunter Wagner touring the course in 20:22.3, taking 30th place.


Trojans headed to state

It was a fifth-place team finish for the Lady Trojans with 104 points.

Turkey Valley will send two harriers to state as Jalyssa Blazek will make her third straight appearance in Fort Dodge after finishing third Friday. The second-ranked runner in Class 1A crossed the finish line in 19:52.6 to take bronze for the second year in a row. Senior Jaycie Byrne will join Blazek at state, racing her way into eighth place in 21:37.2. 

Coming to the finish line in 21:49.7, junior Cambree Kruse just missed an individual qualifying spot in 11th overall. Junior Hailey Elsbernd rounded the course in 26:31.6, good for 47th overall, while Kourtney Schmidt completed the team score in 55th place in a time of 27:51.4.

Dale Schwamman was the lone Trojan male racing in the state qualifier, finishing the 5K in 20:51.6, good for 44th place overall.


Other area qualifiers

Within some tough state-qualifying races, other teams and individuals from the Driftless Journal region qualified for the state cross country meet as well. 

Other area teams who will be trekking to Fort Dodge to compete this weekend from Class 2A are the 12th-ranked Waukon boys, who finished second with 100 points and No. 11 North Fayette Valley, who finished in third with 107 points.

Individuals who qualified from Class 1A include Kee’s Chris Wagner, sixth, 18:18.0; MFL MarMac’s Clare Grau, eighth, 21:17.4. Class 2A individual qualifiers from the area are North Fayette Valley’s Brynn Gamm, seventh, 20:30.01; North Fayette Valley’s Peyton Halverson, sixth, 17:25.67; Waukon’s Nathan O’Neill, ninth, 17:37.20; Crestwood’s Olivia Ollendieck, 13th, 20:51.75; Crestwood’s Kyleigh Foster, 15th, 20:56.75; Crestwood’s Justin Nibauer, 14th, 17:38.62; and Crestwood’s Ethan Govern, 15th, 17:41.89.