Comet Xander Graeser wins 9th-10th boys race at Trent Smith Memorial XC Invitational
By John Burbridge
CHARLES CITY — Xander Graeser has continued a rivalry with his old nemesis — the pace cart — into high school.
Early into his middle school cross country career, Graeser was told it was okay to pass the motorized vehicle leading the pack if it couldn’t stay ahead of him. He then seemed to take it as a challenge as cart drivers were pushed to accelerate to keep Graeser on their tail while the rest of the field often disappeared from the rearview mirror.
During Thursday’s Trent Smith Invitation at Wildwood Golf Course, Graeser again was the lead cart chaser while winning his first high school race with a personal-record time of 17 minutes, 51.9 seconds in the ninth-and-tenth grade boys 5K.
Graeser was part of a foursome of Comet Top 10 finishers in the frosh-soph boys races including Isaac Thompson (4th, 18:29.7), Nick Williams (5th, 18:43) and Lucas Vance (10th, 19:43.9).
Though it was another race which could have yielded different scenarios — i.e. an underclass runner getting caught in a cluster of bigger runners and unable to make a break at an opportune time — Graeser’s time would have placed him fourth in the subsequent 11th-12th grade boys race, which was paced by Saint Ansgar’s Class 1A Top 25 2020 state placer Riley Witt (16:14), nearly a minute ahead of runner-up Breydon Christiansen of Mason City.
Incidentally, the driver of the cart Graeser was trying to catch was Todd Smith, father of Trent, who was a state medalist during his outstanding running career with the Comets.
The meet is also in memory of two other former Charles City XC runners who died tragically at a young age — TJ Houdek and Logan Luft. The high school races are held in Houdek’s honor; the middle school races are held in Luft’s honor.
Winning the 11th-12th grade girls race was Turkey Valley standout and two-time Class 1A state third-place finisher Jalyssa Blazek (19:12.5).
The 9th-10th grade girls champ was Kadence Huck (21:36.0) of Nashua-Plainfield.
Mea Shelton of Crestwood won the seventh-eighth grade girls race with a 2-mile time of 14 minutes, 23.3 seconds.
Knute Rogne of Crestwood won the seventh-eighth grade boys race with a 2-mile time of 12:12.2.
Other than in years in which the Comets host postseason meets, the Trent Smith Invitational is usually the second of the lone two meets annually held at Wildwood at the beginning of XC season.
“This is a big meet for us,” Charles City boys head coach Ryan Rahmiller said. “The weather was perfect, and the course has never been in better shape than it is today.”
“Across the board, all of our runners did well,” Comet girls head coach Amanda Rahmiller said. “We had a lot of personal-records, and with the volleyball and football teams coming out to support us, it helped us a lot.”
Comet senior Jacob Vais was not among the runners achieving PRs on Thursday, though his time of 18:05.8 in the 11th-12th grade boys race was good enough for fifth place.
“I want to get back into the 17s again,” said Vais, whose upstart XC career hit a speed bump when he broke his foot two years ago and later suffered hamstring problems.
“I’m finally healthy again and getting back to where I was before.”
Other Top 10 finishers for Charles City included Mallory Cook (7th, 15:29.7), and Emma Prichard (9th, 15:33.9) in the seventh-eighth grade girls race; Holden McInroy (6th, 13:32.4), Giovani Rios (7th, 13:36.1) and Clay Price (10th, 14:22.5) in the seventh-eighth grade boys race; Lauren Staudt (8th, 22:55.5) in the ninth-tenth grade girls race; and Lydia Staudt (4th, 21:39.8) in the 11th-12th grade girls race.
“We really like that we are able to run back to back meets at Wildwood,” said Ryan Rahmiller, whose boys recorded 14 PRs on the night. “The kids gain confidence in the course and racing on familiar terrain. Confidence is something we’re still working on … we’re still learning that. It will come with time over the season.
“This will be a pretty solid team when we put it all together. We have some really nice athletes and great people on this team. Our spread (that is the amount of time between your first to fifth runner) is only 52 seconds. For the second meet that is terrific.”
Trent Smith Invitational
AT WILDWOOD GOLF COURSE
Top 10 Finishers
Seventh-Eighth Grade Girls Race
1. Mea Shelton (Crestwood) 14:23.3, 2. Jaylee Vobr (Crestwood) 14:57.2, 3. Annie Hageman (South Winneshiek) 15:09.3, 4. Elise Dykstra (John Adams) 15:17.8, 5. Ryleigh Myers (Crestwood) 15:18.5, 6. Maddy Jansen (South Winneshiek) 15:23.9, 7. Mallory Cook (Charles City) 15:29.7, 8. Ava Johnson (Crestwood) 15:30.6, 9. Emma Prichard (Charles City) 15:33.9, 10. Trudy Baxter (Waukon) 15:34.6.
Seventh-Eighth Grade Boys Race
1. Knute Rogne (Crestwood) 12:12.2, 2. Colton O’Neill (Waukon) 12:22.1, 3. Ayeden Lein (John Adams) 13:14.0, 4. Ezra Almelien (North Butler) 13:26.6, 5. James Stigler (Waukon) 13:29.7, 6. Holden McInroy (Charles City) 13:32.4, 7. Giovani Rios (Charles City) 13:36.1, 8. Keaton Vobr (Crestwood) 14:04.8, 9. Avery Franzen (South Winneshiek) 14:10.0, 10. Clay Price (Charles City) 14:22.5.
Ninth-Tenth Grade Girls Race (5K)
1. Kadence Huck (Nashua-Plainfield) 21:36.0, 2. Audra Mulholland (Mason City) 21:55.4, 3. Laney Peter (Crestwood) 22:05.1; 4. Josie Tieskoetter (South Winneshiek) 22:34.5, 5. Mia Kurth (Waukon) 22:37.0, 6. Karissa Wenthold (South Winneshiek) 22:37.9, 7. Cameron Johnson (Waukon) 22:55.5, 8. Lauren Staudt (Charles City) 22:55.5, 9. Savannah Davis (Mason City) 22:58.9, 10. Ellie Eick (Nashua-Plainfield) 23:18.7.
Ninth-Tenth Grade Boys Race (5K)
1. Xander Graeser (Charles City) 17:51.9, 2. Wyatt Gulla (Waukon) 18:19.4, 3. Ra’Shaun Wynter (Mason City) 18:20.6, 4. Isaac Thompson (Charles City) 18:29.7, 5. Nick Williams (Charles City) 18:43.8, 6. Caleb Helgerson (Waukon) 18:48.3, 7. Ethan Gibbs (Waukon) 18:50.2, 8. Dominic Bigalk (Crestwood) 19:03.9, 9. Isaac Reisinger (Waukon) 19:16.8, 10. Lukas Vance (Charles City) 19:43.9.
11th-12th Grade Girls Race (5K)
1. Jalyssa Blazek (Turkey Valley) 19:12.5, 2. Billie Wagner (South Winneshiek) 19:39.6, 3. Eryn Sabelka (South Winneshiek) 21:21.2, 4. Lydia Staudt (Charles City) 21:39.8, 5. Kendel Slavin (Crestwood) 21:49.1, 6. Megan Hageman (South Winneshiek) 21:55.6, 7. Olivia Schissel (Mason City) 21:59, 8. Cambree Kruse (Turkey Valley ) 22:02.6, 9. Olivia Ollendick (Crestwood) 22:11.4, 10 Kyleigh Foster (Crestwood) 22:22.3.
11th-12th Grade Boys Race (5K)
1. Riley Witt (Saint Ansgar) 16:14.2, 2. Breyden Christensen (Mason City) 17:12.8, 3. Isaiah Kruckman (South Winneshiek) 17:35.7, 4. Owen Almelien (North Butler) 17:51.3, 5. Jacob Vais (Charles City) 18:05.8, 6. Lane Kruger (Mason City) 18:19.2, 7. Drew Wilken (Nashua-Plainfield) 18:20.4, 8. Ethan Govern (Crestwood) 18:21.0, 9. Nate Keenan (Waukon) 18:21.9, 10. Logan Delaney (Waukon) 18:28.0.