Local runners take aim at qualifying for state
State qualifying meets are set to take place on Thursday across the state and runners from our local schools are hoping to be among those who will advance to the state meet on Nov. 2. The top three teams and top 15 individuals advance to state. Hereís a preview of the meets local schools will be at.
Class 1A at Ridge View
If everyone is healthy, the Gehlen Catholic boys should be in good shape to send a full team to state. Will Roder is one of the top runners in the state in Class 1A and will look to lead the way for his teammates. Roder, currently the second-ranked runner by the IATC, may have a bit of competition for the top time as Council Bluffs St. Albert runner Bennett Heisterkamp is only two spots behind him in the rankings.
The field may be completely wide open with three ranked teams in close proximity along with three teams to watch. Gehlen is the highest ranked at No. 10 followed in order by Council Bluffs St. Albert and Tri-Center with Sioux Central, Fort Dodge St. Edmond and Woodbine all vying for those top three spots.
Gehlenís addition of Carson Tesch and Isaac Vaske to the lineup has turned them into one of the best teams in the area with the ability of the teamís top three runners to all be in the top 15 individual qualifiers as well. The main concern for Gehlen would be if Tesch is unable to run. He sat out the War Eagle Conference meet as well as the teamís final race of the regular season. Carver Ruhland and Jeff Augustine would round out a solid top five for the Jays with everyone in the lineup.
Hinton and MMCRU donít have quite the stable of runners to compete in the team standings, but could have a few individuals within reach of the top 15. Steven Greigg of Hinton finished 35th at last yearís state qualifying meet at West Sioux, but will look to follow in the footsteps of former teammate Dylan DeMoss who qualified for the first time his senior year a year ago. Greigg was fourth at the War Eagle Conference meet and teammate Aiden Christiansen was two spots behind him as another runner within striking distance of the top 15. Brett Staab and Owen Alesch were MMCRUís top finishers at the league meet and would be their teamís best chances of qualifying.
Kaitlyn Goth of MMCRU is the most likely of our local 1A girls to make it to state. The War Eagle Conference runner-up Goth will be looking for a return trip to Fort Dodge.
Remsen St. Maryís runner Maria Russell may also have an outside chance of advancing as she has shown improvement over her freshman season last year where she ended 65th at state qualifying.
Competitors in the 1A girls field include defending state champion Logan-Magnolia, who graduated just one runner from last year and is currently the top-ranked team in 1A, along with ranked teams St. Edmond and Tri-Center. There are seven ranked runners in the district led by the top-ranked runner in the state, Peyton Pogge of Tri-Center.
Class 2A at Unity Christian
The WC-KP girls appear poised to make another trip to the state cross country meet. The team has finished third in Fort Dodge the past two years and is currently ranked third by the IATC.
The team has consistently been getting their top six runners within the upper echelon of the field in most meets, but the competition will be some of the best the team has seen all year. The district includes host Unity Christian who is No. 6 in the rankings as well as Okoboji who is ranked 15. Three other teams sit just outside the rankings with Cherokee, Sibley-Ocheyedan and Western Christian all looking to snag a berth away from the three ranked teams. The district may be the most competitive in the state with the six teams either ranked or teams to watch. None of the other four state qualifying sites have more than four teams recognized by the IATC.
The individual battle for the winning time should be interesting as WC-KPís Erika Kuntz and Cherokeeís London Rogge will be among the top contenders. The pair finished within two seconds of each other when they ran against each other at the Gary Meyer Invitational in Brunsville early in the season. The district also contains ranked individuals Lexi Duffy of Okoboji, Whitney Minderhoud of Western Christian and Bria Wasmund of Sibley-Ocheyedan.
On the boys side, WC-KPís best chance at advancing to state would be individual Tristen Jessen although the field will be extremely competitive. The top-ranked runner in the district is Western Valley Conference champion Dylan Blake of MVAOCOU. Seven other individuals from the district are in the rankings. The teams advancing may come down to the only three recognized by the IATC with ranked teams Okoboji and Western Christian joined by team to watch Sioux Center.
Class 3A at Humboldt
The Le Mars Community cross country teams have been ever so close to qualifying a team to state the last few years. Last year both teams finished fourth in their state qualifying meet when only the top three teams move on.
It will be another uphill run for the Bulldogs this year as they travel to Humboldt in hopes of qualifying. The boys have been named a team to watch by the IATC, just outside of their top 15 rankings. The issue is there are already three teams in front of them in the rankings who will be at the same state qualifying meet.
The favorite would likely be Gilbert who is ranked No. 6. They have a pair of runners, Griffin Ruba and Nathan Patel, ranked as individuals.
Host Humboldt is No. 10 in the rankings while Waverly-Shell Rock takes the final spot in the top 15. Humboldt has one of the top individual runners in the state in Quentin Orr, who is ranked second in 3A as an individual, as well as Eric Wittrock who is ranked No. 29.
Another competitor for one of the three spots will be MOC-Floyd Valley, also a team just outside the rankings. The Bulldogs and Dutchmen have gone head-to-head at a couple of meets with Le Mars topping them in the team standings at their home Gary Meyer Invitational, but dropping behind them for second place at the Storm Lake meet. MOC-Floyd Valley has one individual ranked with Sam May at No. 20. May was 30 seconds faster than Le Marsí top runner Ethan Hulinsky at the Gary Meyer Invitational, but Hulinsky cut the gap down to just seven seconds at Storm Lake a week later.
Le Mars has stayed competitive by keeping their top five scores within a fairly close span. If the team canít send its full team to state, the opportunity exists for some individual qualifiers. Jason and Jackson Sudtelgte were just a few places back of qualifying as individuals last year and would join Hulinsky as the teamís top contenders for individual berths.
The path to state for the Le Mars girls is even narrower. Former Lakes Conference rival Spencer and current MRAC rival Bishop Heelan are both ranked and those teams will likely be trailing top-ranked Ballard. With Gilbert the final team in the top 15 and Sergeant Bluff-Luton ending just two points behind the Lady Bulldogs at the MRAC meet, sending a full team to Fort Dodge will be challenging.
The team does have a pair of individuals who hope to make it for their fourth and final year in Chloe Calhoun and Kara Albrecht. The pair took two of the final three individual qualifying spots last year and appear to be on a fine line of making the top 15 again this season. To do so would be quite the accomplishment considering the district contains nine of the top 30 runners in the rankings and none of the Le Mars runners are included on that list.