WC-KP’s Kuntz advances to state cross country for fourth time

Monday, October 25, 2021
(Sentinel Photo By Allen Hamil) Above, WC-KP’s Erika Kuntz runs at Landsmeer Golf Course on Thursday as she qualified for the Class 2A state cross country meet for the fourth time. She finished seventh at the state qualifying meet with a time of 20:44.05.

ORANGE CITY — Erika Kuntz will represent the WC-KP cross country team for the fourth and final time in Fort Dodge on Oct. 30. The senior runner said she is happy to cap off her career with one final trip to the state meet.

“To go all four years, to have the opportunity to do that, is awesome,” Kuntz said. “I’ve had amazing teammates who have pushed me all the way throughout my four years of high school. It’s just nice to be able to finish strong.”

Kuntz finished seventh overall in a time of 20:44.05. While it was her lowest finish by placing in her four state qualifying meets, all held at Landsmeer Golf Club, she has had remarkably consistent times in four state qualifying meet runs there, ranging from between 20:40 and 20:50 as this year’s time was right in the middle of those.

“I felt pretty good the entire race,” Kuntz said. “I really tried to push it the last 800 or so and make up some ground.”

Kuntz won the race her freshman season in 2018 and she followed up with a fifth place result in 2019 and fourth place finish last year.

The weather turned out to be a decent fall day with sunny skies, temperatures in the upper 40s and just a light breeze. It was better than the conditions runners faced the day before at the 3A state qualifying meet at Brunsville with even colder temperatures, gusty wind and precipitation. Kuntz was happy to avoid those conditions as she dealt with similar conditions at last year’s state qualifying event.

“We actually started the week running around in tank tops and shorts and we were joking about how we’d never started state qualifying week in tank tops and shorts,” Kuntz said. “It was a little bit cooler today.”

WC-KP finished sixth out of 12 complete teams, not a bad showing considering the team didn’t have their other state qualifier from last year, Sarahy Hamman, competing after running the first few meets of the season. The WC-KP team also had to replace three seniors off of last year’s team which just missed out on advancing to state with a fourth place finish which ended a string of three consecutive team appearances for the combined Woodbury Central and Kingsley-Pierson program.

CJ Hannah was the team’s next runner with a 34th place time of 23:19.11. Lillian Ofert was four places behind that with a time of 23:30.47. Lynsey Countryman finished 59th in 25:03.88 and Hanna Rodgers finished off the team scoring with a 70th place time of 25:55.42. Freshmen Kierstyn Cameron (81st, 27:45.39) and Joslyn Verschoor (84th, 28:34.17) were the team’s final two runners.

Cherokee, Unity Christian and Sibley-Ocheyedan repeated as the top three teams from last year to advance to the state meet. Madison Brouwer of Sibley-Ocheyedan had the winning time in the field of 89 girls, finishing the race in 19:18.15.

The WC-KP boys ended 11th out of 14 complete teams. Tristen Jessen was the top runner for the team with a 31st place finish in 19:06.79. About a minute later Marshall Benson crossed the finish line for a 52nd place result in 20:03.65. Two places behind him was Wyatt Ofert with a time of 20:05.13. Carson Seuntjens (67th, 21:17.40) and Caleb Christenson (75th, 21:42.92) rounded out the counting five. Cade Ploen (92nd, 25:10.07) and Levi Haggin (94th, 25:40.03) were the team’s final runners.

Western Christian’s Tage Hulstein had the winning time of 16:56.97 as the Wolfpack took second as a team. First place Okoboji and third place Unity Christian also advance full teams to state.

As Kuntz returns to the state meet, she said she is hoping to finish her high school cross country career on a high note.

“I’m definitely looking to get a course-best on that course and finish strong,” Kuntz said. “If I could finish in the top 20, I would definitely be happy. Of course I’m shooting for top 15 because that’s who medals, but just looking to finish out strong and just wrap it all up.”

Team scores: (Girls) Cherokee 51, Unity Christian 65, Sibley-Ocheyedan 67, Okoboji 104, George-Little Rock/Central Lyon 143, WC-KP 198, Western Christian 205, West Lyon 207, MVAOCOU 217, West Sioux 259, Emmetsburg 297, OABCIG 361. Incomplete teams: Estherville-Lincoln Central, Sheldon.

(Boys) Okoboji 61, Western Christian 67, Unity Christian 74, Spirit Lake 119, George-Little Rock/Central Lyon 157, Cherokee 180, Sibley-Ocheyedan 199, MVAOCOU 246, Estherville-Lincoln Central 255, Sheldon 266, WC-KP 278, West Lyon 287, Emmetsburg 358, OABCIG 369. Incomplete teams: West Sioux.

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