By John Burbridge email@example.com
WAUKON — Decorah went into Northeast Iowa Conference Cross Country Meet as the overwhelming favorite in both the boys and girls varsity race.
There was nothing going to rain on their parade — at least in the human sense.
As for the nature sense …
The conditions Tuesday at Waukon Golf and Country Club are often what separate the serious runners from those just in the midst of a health-conscious fad. Runners — the real ones — were plagued with a windswept rain paired with temperatures in the mid-40s.
Sure enough, the Vikings won both races with Charles City placing runner-up in the girls race and taking third in the boys race.
Crestwood’s Ellie Friesen won her fourth conference title with a first place 5K time of 18 minute, 56 seconds.
Katie Nimrod led the champion Vikings with a runner-up time of 19:16, followed by Charles City freshman Kiki Connell, who improved a personal-best with a third-place time of 19:28.
With junior Whitney Martin (19:53), sophomore Mackenzy Bilharz (21:24), and freshman Adison Olson (21:33) and Libbie McKeag (21:55) all placing in the Top 20, the Comets compiled 56 points — 19 behind (or rather more) than Decorah.
In the boys varsity race, Decorah senior Andrew Kephart and junior Gus Hayes paced the field with respective times of 16:40 and 16:57 to lead a dominating performance from the Vikings, whose 24 team points were well ahead of Waverly-Shell Rock (54), which was paced by third-place finisher Sam Kepford (17:04).
Charles City senior Gavin Connell finished fourth with a time of 17:20.
With juniors Mason Deeter (17:47 9th) and Nick Litterer (18:28 15th); and freshmen Zach Graeser (19:26 21st) and Antwone Cooper (20:49 31st) rounding out the Comet scoring, Charles City placed third with 80 team points.
In the NEIC Junior High races, Charles City placed second to Decorah in both the boys and girls races, but boasted individual champions with Jacob Vais winning the boys race with a 2-mile time of 11:39, and Lydia Staudt winning the girls race in 13:13.
“They ran real well considering the conditions,” Charles City junior high boys coach Eric Hoefer said.