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Kiki Connell 4th at State Cross Country Championships

Kiki Connell 4th at State Cross Country Championships
Press photo by John Burbridge
Charles City’s Kiki Connell (right) attacks a hill with Carlisle’s Ainsley Erzen trailing close behind in the State Cross Country Championships Class 3A girls race, Friday at Lakeside Golf Course. Connell eventually placed fourth; Erzen placed third.

By John Burbridge

sports@charlescitypress.com

FORT DODGE — Charles City senior Kiki Connell recorded her fastest State Cross Country Championships 5K time last Friday along Lakeside Golf Course’s winding and criss-crossing course.

But there’s a time and place where “time” doesn’t matter as much as “place”.

“I wasn’t concerned that much about my time,” Connell said after the Class 3A girls race, an event she has qualified as an individual her entire prep career.

“I was more concerned where I finished.”

On that note, Connell also posted a career-best at Fort Dodge placement-wise as her time of 18 minutes, 54 seconds was good enough for fourth place after sixth-place and eighth-place showings at state her freshman and junior years.

Up against a highly competitive field consisting of 11 returning individual medalists including Ballard’s sophomore tandem of Shewaye Johnson and Paityn Noe, who finished second and third respectively in last year’s race, Connell was not considered the favorite to win this year’s race.

But going into the state meet undefeated during her senior season and having recently recorded a Comet school-record 5K time of 17:57 while winning the state qualifier, Connell was definitely a legitimate “darkhorse”.

And around the first two turns after the start, Connell was among those out in front.

“I knew it was going to be a fast pace at the start,” Connell said.

Indeed it was. The leaders clocked the first mile at 5:20, and soon after Johnson and Noe were running side-by-side with Connell in tow.

“They ran a smart race,” Connell said of state champion Johnson (17:55) and runner-up Noe (18:01), who helped the Bombers win their second-straight team title with 66 team points ahead of bang-bang 2-3 finishers Dallas Center-Grimes (88) and Wahlert Catholic (89).

“It’s picking the right time to surge, and they surged at the right time,” Connell said. “If you don’t go out with them when they do, it’s almost impossible to catch them.”

Along a grinding uphill grade at course’s midway point, Carlisle junior Ainsley Erzen was able to catch Connell and eventually place third (18:46).

Finishing behind Connell were Northeast Iowa Conference rivals Emma Hoins of Waverly-Shell Rock (5th, 19:01) and Rebecca Anderson of Decorah (6th, 19:05).

For the first time among her four trips to Fort Dodge, Connell wasn’t accompanied by her teammates on the course as Charles City was unable to qualify as a team.

But Connell had a contingent of Comet supporters who made the trip down with her. They also helped with her training during the week leading up to the race.

Though she may have wanted a better finish in her final race, Connell said she is proud of the accomplishments she achieved during her XC career which includes 25 of the school’s Top 50 5K times.

“I guess it hasn’t hit me yet that it’s really over,” Connell said, “but now I’m ready to start wrestling.”

Charles City girls head coach Amanda Rahmiller said, “I was very pleased with Kiki’s performance. She put herself into a position to win right from the start by tucking herself in behind the two stand-out runners from Ballard. That was the game plan, and she followed through.”

* Nashua-Plainfield qualified as a team in the Class 1A girls race, which took place on Saturday.

The Huskies placed 16th and were led by senior and Top of Iowa-East Conference champion Chloe Matthews, who placed 48th (26th in team-point placing) with a time of 21:41.

Kee junior Haley Meyer was the Class 1A girls individual champion with a time of 19:11; Hudson was the Class 1A girls team champion with 128 team points — 2 points better than runner-up South Winneshiek.

North Butler had two representatives in the Class 1A boys race with sophomores Michael Knock (89th, 18:50) and Owen Almelien (101st, 19:01).

Bellevue’s Brady Griebel was the Class 1A boys individual champion with a time of 15:52; Madrid was the Class 1A boys team champion with 58 team points.

Iowa High School Cross Country Championships

Oct. 30-31

AT LAKESIDE GOLF COURSE, Fort Dodge

Class 3A Girls 5K

Team Placings

1. Ballard 66, 2. Dallas Center-Grimes 88, 3. Wahlert Catholic 89, 4. Bishop Heelan 151, 5. Solon 187, 6. Glenwood 192, 7. Harlan 210, 8. Pella 214, 9. Assumption 234, 10. Center Point-Urbana 237, 11. Waverly-Shell Rock 244, 12. Winterset 262, 13. Carlisle 272, 14. Decorah 300, 15. Spencer 369

Top 15 Medalists

1. Shewaye Johnson (B) 17:55, 2. Paityn Noe (B) 18:01, 3. Ainsley Erzen (Ca) 18:46, 4. Kiki Connell (Charles City) 18:54, 5. Emma Hoins (WSR) 19:01, 6. Rebecca Anderson (D) 19:05, 7. Geneva Timmerman (ADM) 19:05, 8. Lydia Mass (Hampton-Dumont-CAL) 19:14, 9. Gabby Moran (WC) 19:16, 10. Ellie Meyer (Iowa Falls-Alden) 19:24, 11. Kami Smith (DCG) 19:26, 12. Megan Sterbenz (DCG) 19:26, 13. Alix Oliver (WC) 19:31, 14. Braelyn Baker (Creston) 19:32, 15. Brooklyn Stanley (BH) 19:44.

Class 3A Boys 5K

Team Placings

1. Dallas Center-Grimes 87, 2. Solon 135, 3. Carlisle 149, 4. Pella 157, 5. North Polk 161, 6. Decorah 173, 7. Center Point-Urban 200, 8. Marion 203, 9. Adm, Adel 218, 10. Lemars 223, 11. Wahlert Catholic 239, 12. Mount Vernon/Lisbon 251, 13. Moc-Floyd Valley 261, 14. West Delaware 278, 15. Glenwood 287

Top 15 Medalists

1. Nate Mueller (ADM) 15:28, 2. Quinton Orr (Humboldt) 15:48, 3. Aidan Ramsey (DCG) 16:05, 4. Eli Larson (CPU) 16:05, 5. Brady Hogan (D) 16:12, 6. Luke Post (CPU) 16:23, 7. Craig Alan Becker (Atlantic) 16:27, 8. Zach Sporaa (NP) 16:32, 9. Brandon Barker (Clear Creek-Amana) 16:36, 10. Max Sporaa (NP) 16:38, 11. Trey Gross (Harlan) 16:43, 12. Nathan Munshower (WC) 16:43, 13. Shane Erb (M) 16:44, 14. Anthony Schmitz (P) 16:45, 15. Jacob Ewers (DCG) 16:47.

Class 1A Girls 5K

Team Placings

1. Hudson 128, 2. South Winneshiek 130, 3. Regina 161, 4. Pekin 161, 5. Acgc 163, 6. Ahstw, Avoca 180, 7. Van Meter 184, 8. Manson Northwest Webs 187, 9. Prince of Peace 216, 10. Earlham 226, 11. Logan-Magnolia 245, 12. St. Edmond 251, 13. Kee 255, 14. Newman Catholic 259, 15. Montezuma 278, 16. Nashua-Plainfield 321 (26. Chloe Matthews 21:41, 56. Aubrey Eick 22:30, 70. Jennah Carpenter 23:08, 73. Ellie Eick 23:12, 96. Kara Levi 24:28, 107. Tamra Trewin 27:13, 109. Emma O’Neill 28:30)

Top 15 Medalists

1. Haley Meyer (K) 19:11, 2. Billie Wagner (SW) 19:19, 3. Jalyssa Blazek (Turkey Valley) 19:30, 4. Maddie Moline (MNW) 19:30, 5. Peyton Pogge (Tri-Center) 19:35, 6. Courtney Sporrer (LM) 19:51, 7. Addison Grady (H) 19:53, 8. Clare Kelly (VM) 19:56, 9. Rylee Sloss (Acgc) 19:57, 10. Rylee Dunkin (Twin Cedars) 20:05, 11. Greenlee Smock (Lynnville-Sully) 20:14, 12. Grace Lidgett (North Tama) 20:14, 13. Preslie Oswald (MNW) 20:15, 14. Emma Ostswinkle (Cascade) 20:16, 15. Elie Tuhn (Baxter) 20:17.

Class 1A Boys 5K

Team Placings

1. Madrid 58, 2. Earlham 70, 3. South Winneshiek 140, 4. Acgc 156, 5. Bellevue 172, 6. Maquoketa Valley 203, 7. Ogden 207, 8. Hudson 238, 9. Pekin 263, 10. Nodaway Valley 269, 11. East Marshall 275, 12. St. Edmond 277, 13. Newman Catholic 296, 14. Columbus Catholic 298, 15. Siouxland Christian 298, 16. Central Springs 304.

Top 15 Medalists

1. Brady Griebel (B) 15:52, 2. Clay Pehl (M) 16:21, 3. Randy Jimenez (Southeast Warren) 16:31, 4. Brady Millikin (P) 16:33, 5. Zach Dixon (E) 16:37, 6. Jayden Dickson (E) 16:44, 7. Chase Knoche (Calamus-Wheatland) 16:45, 8. Gabe Soda (M) 16:48, 9. Stephen Flynn (O) 16:51, 10. Jason Renze (M) 16:54, 11. Brett McGee (Tri-Center) 16:57, 12. Sam Hansen (H) 16:58, 13. Isaac Natvig (Valley Lutheran) 16:58, 14. Bryce McDonough (CS) 16:59, 15. Dominic Braet (E) 17:01.

NORTH BUTLER — 89. Michael Knock 18:50, 101. Owen Almelien 19:01.

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