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Comet Kiki Connell dominates girls ‘fast’ race at Trent Smith Invitational

Comet Kiki Connell dominates girls ‘fast’ race at Trent Smith Invitational
Press photo by John Burbridge
From left, Charles City senior Kiki Connell, Turkey Valley junior Jalyssa Blazek and South Winneshiek sophomore Billie Wagner break from the field during the girls varsity race at the Trent Smith XC Invite.

By John Burbridge

CHARLES CITY — Like to stick around, but gotta run.

For the most part, that’s how cross country will roll this season. Take time to catch your breath at the finish, and then promptly leave the premises without picking up your medal if you earned one. For that, just periodically check your mail.

Hanging around to cheer on runners in subsequent races is also discouraged this season. Perhaps that’s why there wasn’t much of a crowd milling around during the tailend of what is usually a well-populated Trent Smith XC Invitational, Thursday at Wildwood Golf Course.

The annual Charles City-hosted event, held in memory of Smith, TJ Houdek and Logan Luft — all former Comet XC runners who tragically died young, usually consists of junior high and high school races.

To keep the running fields at a minimum in response to the ongoing pandemic, this year’s invite only consisted of high school races, three each for boys and girls in staggered classifications of slow, medium and fast.

In the girls “fast” race, Charles City senior Kiki Connell apparently got the memo regarding social distancing as she distanced herself from the pack with a 5K time of 18 minutes, 52 seconds — nearly 80 seconds ahead of South Winneshiek sophomore Billie Wagner, who was runner-up.

For Connell, it was her third-fastest 5K time of her prep career. Last year, Connell set a school record with a time of 18:30 while winning the Northeast Iowa Conference Meet on the same course.

At last year’s Trent Smith Invite, Connell won the Girls 11-12 race with a time of 20:20, which would have placed her third on Thursday. Connell would later finish the season with an eighth-place finish in the Class 3A girls race at the State Cross Country Championships — she placed sixth at state her freshman year.

Team results weren’t compiled at the invite. Other Top 20 finishers for the Comets included seniors Brianna Ross and Libbie McKeag, who finished 17th and 18th with respective times of 22:39 and 23:11.

Saint Ansgar junior Riley Witt, who placed 27th in the Class 1A boys race at last year’s state meet, was the fastest in the boys “fast” race with a time of 17:04, a little more than 40 seconds ahead of runner-up Breyd Christensen, a junior from Mason City.

Charles City senior Alex Bauer was the Comets’ top placer with a 16th-place time of 19:03.

Trent Smith Cross Country Invitational

Sept. 3


Top 10 Girls Varsity

1. Kiki Connell (Charles City) 18:52, 2. Billie Wagner (South Winneshiek) 20:10, 3. Jalyssa Blazek (Turkey Valley) 20:32, 4. Chloe Matthews (Nashua-Plainfield) 21:24.1, 5. Kyleigh Foster (Crestwood) 21:24.8, 5. Marcella Sierra (Mason City) 21:29, 7. Olliva Ollendick (Crestwood) 21:34, 8. Erny Sabelka (SW) 21:47, 9. Brycelyn Hanson (MC) 21:51, 10. Gwen Sewell (MC) 21:52.

CHARLES CITY — 1. Connell, 17. Brianna Ross 22:39, 18. Libbie McKeag 23:11, 22. Rylie Patrie 23:44, 23. Lauren Staudt 23:55, 30. Lilly Luft 24:46, 32. Maya Bruening 24:54.6, 33. Lydia Thompson 24:54.8.

Top 10 Boys Varsity

1. Riley Witt (Saint Ansgar) 17:04, 2. Breyd Christensen (Mason City) 17:45, 3. Justin Nibaur (Crestwood) 17:56, 4. Owen Almelien (North Butler) 18:09, 5. Ethan Mast (Crestwood) 18:19, 6. Caleb Currier (MC) 18:22.5, 7. Isaiah Kruckman (South Winneshiek) 18:22.7, 8. Cole Hanson (SA) 18:24, 9. Toby Conway (SW) 18:32, 10. Kevin Carney (MC) 18:33.

CHARLES CITY — 16. Alex Bauer 19:03, 21. Jared Johnson 19:31, 26. Zach Graeser 19:48, 30. Malcolm Lopez 20:22, 33. Drew Staudt 20:58, 37. Lukas Vance 21:58.