By John Burbridge firstname.lastname@example.org
MANCHESTER — In order to get down state, you’d better be able to run uphill.
At least that’s the case if you’re an aspiring runner competing in the Class 3A West Delaware Cross Country State Qualifier.
For the second straight season, the qualifier has been held at Hart Ridge Golf Course, which is the home of the infamous “Billy Goat Hill” — a nearly 45-degree upward grade that precedes the homestretch.
You can either eat up the hill or the hill will eat up you as many crucial positions in races get exchanged during the demanding juncture.
Take Thursday’s qualifier in the girls race. Charles City freshman Lydia Staudt was able to pass Decorah junior Shayla Betts while trekking up the hill and nipped her at the finish line for 10th place.
How big was that?
When the totals were added up, Charles City placed 1 point better than Decorah (86-87) for second place.
“We ran extremely well today,” Charles City coach Amanda Rahmiller said of her team, which was paced by sophomore Kiki Connell’s third-place 5K time of 19 minutes, 55 seconds, ahead of Staudt (20:41) and senior Whitney Martin, who was able to seize the final individual qualifier spot with a 15th-place time of 20:49.
Junior MacKenzy Bilharz placed 19th (21:21), followed by sophomore Brianna Ross (22:43, 39th), junior Mindi Neve (22:51, 41st), and sophomore Adison Olson (23:03, 46th).
The top three teams advance to the State Cross Country Championships, to be held Oct. 27 at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge.
Last year the Comet girls qualified to state, where they finished fifth, after getting the third qualifying spot — something the team didn’t expect until the placings were announced as the Comets as a team had an off meet. This time around there was little doubt.
“When you place four runners in the Top 20, you’re in pretty good shape,” Rahmiller said, “but it was nice to finish ahead of Decorah.”
Recently, the Vikings extended their string of Northeast Iowa Conference titles.
“And they have the nicest girls,” Rahmiller said of the NEIC perennial power. “They always cheer our runners on and they have a classy program.
“But it was still nice to beat them.”
For Bilharz, Martin and senior Mariah Mckenzy, who didn’t run at the state qualifier due to an injury sustained during a wet NEIC meet, this will be their third trip to the state meet.
Dubuque Wahlert placed four girls in the Top 10 while winning the qualifier with 36 team points.
Two-time Class 3A state champion Adrianna Katcher of Center Point-Urbana won the girls qualifier with a time of 18:48.
In the boys race, Charles City placed seventh with senior Mason Deeter being the Comets’ lone state qualifier with a 14th-place time of 17:38.
Deeter was part of a trio of Charles City qualifiers last year with since-graduated four-time state qualifier Gavin Connell, and fellow senior Nick Litterer, who placed 24th (18:00) on Thursday.
“Mason Deeter has had a great season and tonight was a well-earned finish with a repeat trip to state,” Charles City boys head coach Ryan Rahmiller said. “He was hoping for a better place finish, but getting in was important. We will aim to better his placing at state from last year, shoot for a PR, and take a bunch of younger runners along to experience the meet as being in that environment is valuable.”
The Comet coach also cited junior Phillip Bachman, who placed 27th while shaving 15 seconds off his personal-best; and freshman Jacob Vais, who was Charles City’s fourth runner at 42nd place while coming within 2 seconds of his PB.
“The future is bright,” Ryan Rahmiller said. “We’ve got some great runners that are coming into their own. We’ve had some setback injuries this season, but that provided for some other runners to step up and experience running varsity.”
Decorah won the boys race with 62 team points — 5 better than runner-up Dubuque Wahlert.
Waverly-Shell Rock senior Sam Kepford won the race with a time of 16:54 after pulling away from Decorah senior and runner-up Gus Hayes down the homestretch.
Class 3A State Qualifier Meet
AT HART RIDGE GOLF COURSE
Girls 5K Race
(Top 3 Qualify for State)
1. Dubuque Wahlert 36, 2. Charles City 86, 3. Decorah 87, 4. Waverly-Shell Rock 125, 5. Mount Vernon-Lisbon 140, 6. Anamosa 179, 7. Xavier 185, 8. Center Point-Urbana 185, 9. Vinton-Shellsburg 240, 10. Independence 248, 11. West Delaware 287, 12. Maquoketa 349, 13. Hampton-Dumont-Cal 402.
Top 15 Individual State Qualifiers
1. Adrianna Katcher (CPU) 18:48, 2. Gabby Moran (DW) 19:16, 3. Kiki Connell (CC) 19:55, 4. Kay Fett (VS) 20:00, 5. Emma Hoins (WSR) 20:15, 6. Aunna Huseman (DW) 20:19, 7. Alix Oliver (DW) 20:19, 8. Aubrey Frey (MVL) 20:20, 9. Ellie Meyer (DW) 20:32, 10. Lydia Staudt (CC) 20:41, 11. Shayla Betts (D) 20:41, 12. Alana Duggan (DW) 20:36, 13. Brooke Courtney (D) 20:46, 14. Hannah Denman (X) 20:48, 15. Whitney Martin (CC) 20:49.
CHARLES CITY — 3. Connell, 10. Staudt, 15. Martin, 19. MacKenzy Bilharz 21:21, 39. Brianna Ross 22:43, 41. Mindi Neve 22:51, 46. Adison Olson 23:03.
Boys 5K Race
(Top 3 Qualify for State)
1. Decorah 40, 2. Dubuque Wahlert 67, 3. Mount Vernon-Lisbon 82, 4. Center Point-Urbana 89, 5. Waverly-Shell Rock 107, 6. Xavier 158, 7. Charles City 158, 8. West Delaware 238, 9. Vinton-Shellsburg 302, 10. Maquoketa 316, 11. Anamosa 317, 12. Independence 328, 13. Hampton-Dumont-Cal 365.
Top 15 Individual State Qualifiers
1. Sam Kepford (WSR) 16:54, 2. Gus Hayes (D) 16:57, 3. Luke Post (CPU) 17:02, 4. Nathan Munshower (DW) 17:13, 5. Jack Ronning (X) 17:15, 6. Brady Hogan (D) 17:19, 7. Jacob Hocking (DW) 17:28, 8. Carter Oberfoell (DW) 17:32, 9. Jackson Meeker (MVL) 17:32, 10. George Barton (DW) 17:33, 11. David Wolfe (MVL) 17:33, 12. Tyler Meyeres (M) 17:33, 13. Oliver Crocker (MVL) 17:34, 14. Mason Deeter (CC) 17:38, 15. Brayden Krivachek (D) 17:42.
CHARLES CITY — 14. Deeter, 24. Nick Litterer 18:00, 27. Phillip Bachman 18:10, 42. Jacob Vais 18:41, 51. Isaac Jensen 19:11, 53. Alex Bauer 19:15, 54. Hayden Pleggenkuhle 19:22.