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FORT DODGE — Capsules for the eight races at the state cross country meet Saturday at Lakeside Golf Course:
Start time — 11 a.m.
Individual race — Iowa City West senior Bailey Nock is the defending champion, and has not been beaten by a runner within the state borders this season. She won the Iowa City regional by 55 seconds, clocking in at 18:34. Pleasant Hill regional champion Jessica McKee leads a talented herd from Johnston. Linn-Mar freshman Micah Poellet has been reasonably close in Nock’s rear-view mirror when they have competed this season, and won the Marshalltown region by 54 seconds.
Team race — Johnston ran away with the title last year by 65 points, and brings four top-10 runners led by McKee. The Dragons ran 1-3-4 at Pleasant Hill, and appear to have some room for error. Iowa City West leads the chase pack, though Dubuque Senior edged them via tie-breaker at the Mississippi Valley Conference meet. West, Senior and West Des Moines Dowling all won regional titles in comfortable fashion.
How they’ll finish — 1. Johnston, 2. Iowa City West, 3. Dubuque Senior, 4. West Des Moines Dowling, 5. Dubuque Hempstead.
Start time — 11:30 a.m.
Individual race — Matthew Carmody of West Des Moines Dowling is the highest returning finisher from last year (third), and won the Council Bluffs district with a swift run of 15:17. He won’t be in any short supply of competitors. Iowa City West’s Kolby Greiner has impressed all season, and was the district champion at Iowa City. Tim Sindt of Ankeny was seventh last year and won the Pleasant Hill district by 34 seconds. And Konnor Sommer of Pleasant Valley won on his home course last week.
Team race — The list of suspects is the same as last year, when West Des Moines Dowling edged Pleasant Valley by two points. PV had a substantial margin of victory at its district, and the Maroons edged Waukee by three points. Cedar Rapids Prairie doesn’t have an individual title threat, but if the Hawks’ pack stays together and toward the front of the race, they can contend. The other contenders are from central Iowa ... Waukee, Johnston and West Des Moines Valley.
How they’ll finish — 1. Pleasant Valley, 2. West Des Moines Dowling, 3. Cedar Rapids Prairie, 4. Waukee, 5. Johnston.
Start time — Noon
Individual race — Defending champion Adrianna Katcher, a sophomore at Center Point-Urbana, is back and leads the list of contenders. She ran 18:40 to lead a fast field at the Solon regional, but got a late challenge by Mary Blanchard of Grinnell. Raegan Anderson of Denison-Schleswig was sixth last year and is coming off a 20-second win at the Atlantic regional. Katie Nimrod of Decorah won at Manchester.
Team race — They split the contenders equally throughout the regionals in this class, making it tough to pick a winner. Decorah is the defending champion and impressed at the Manchester regional, winning by 21 points over Anamosa (which, by the way, is qualifying for the first time in school history). Dubuque Wahlert didn’t graduate anybody from a fifth-place team last year and ran away with the Solon regional title by 52 points. Pella, Humboldt and Ballard also won regional titles in comfortable fashion.
How they’ll finish — 1. Dubuque Wahlert, 2. Decorah, 3. Pella, 4. Humboldt, 5. Ballard.
Start time — 12:30 p.m.
Individual race — All of the top four from last year’s return as seniors, led by defending champion Jeremy Fopma of Marion. He won the Manchester district by 35 seconds. Fopma’s former teammate, Myles Bach of Center Point-Urbana, was the runner-up last year and took top honors at Solon last week. Miles Scott of Sergeant Bluff-Luton and Thomas Clower of Grinnell were 3-4 last year, and both qualified comfortably. Despite being close geographically, Fopma and Bach didn’t race one another this year.
Team race — After finishing fourth and seventh last year, Gilbert and Decorah return the bulk of their lineups and enter Saturday as the teams to beat. Gilbert put up a 28-point tally and won the Spencer district by 58 points, and Decorah was a 27-point winner at Manchester. Dallas Center-Grimes rolled to a 32-point margin at Pella. Don’t overlook defending champion Mount Vernon-Lisbon, which won a close battle with Grinnell for the title at Solon.
How they’ll finish — 1. Decorah, 2. Gilbert, 3. Dallas Center-Grimes, 4. Mount Vernon-Lisbon, 5. Marion.
Start time — 1 p.m.
Individual race — Mid-Prairie’s Hostetler sisters became household names a year ago when they went 1-2 (Anna, then Marie) at last year’s state meet. There’s a good chance they’ll do it again, though the order is a mystery. They went 18:42 and 18:48 at the Pella regional. Monticello’s Paige Holub, the champion in 2014 and 2015, certainly can’t be ruled out, nor can Crestwood’s Ellie Friesen, who moves down to 2A after running seventh last year in 3A.
Team race — This could be one of the tightest of the eight races, and it should come down to River Valley Conference rivals Monticello and Mid-Prairie. The defending champion, Monticello had four of the top five runners in scoring 26 points at the Iowa City regional. Mid-Prairie, meanwhile, went 1-2-3 and tallied 25 at Pella. When they met at the RVC meet, Mid-Prairie won by 20 points. It will be closer this time.
How they’ll finish — 1. Mid-Prairie, 2. Monticello, 3. Crestwood, 4. WC-KP, 5. Cascade.
Start time — 1:30 p.m.
Individual race — After finishing 2-3-4 last year, Reece Smith of Garner GHV, Gable Sieperda of GLR-Central Lyon and Spencer Moon of South Central Calhoun are poised and primed to chase the title Saturday. Smith ran 15:58 and won the individual title at Dike last week. Sieperda was even more dominant, blistering the course at Orange City in 15:26 and winning by nearly a minute and a half. Moon took top honors at Sheldon.
Team race — Mid-Prairie is favored to repeat, and if it happens, it could be a girl-boy 2A title sweep for the Golden Hawks. Led by Floyd Evans, Mid-Prairie tallied a 23-point total and won the Pella district by 44 points, running 1-3-5-6. The Golden Hawks certainly are balanced; they won the title last year without a top-10 individual finisher. Sieperda and his GLR-CL teammates will challenge, as will the top two teams from the Dike district (Garner GHV and South Hamilton).
How they’ll finish — 1. Mid-Prairie, 2. GLR-Central Lyon, 3. Garner GHV, 4. South Hamilton, 5. Tipton.
Start time — 2 p.m.
Individual race — Wide open. Neither of the top two finishers from last year graduated, but neither of them won their regional races. Kate Crawford of Guthrie Center ACGC was the champion last year, but Tri-Center freshman Peyton Pogge got the best of her at the Holstein regional. Emily Staal of Springville-Central City was extremely impressive at the Solon regional, running 18:43 and winning by 86 seconds. Jenna Twait of Hudson was fourth last year and was the regional champ at Ottumwa.
Team race — The champion will come from the northeast quadrant of the state. Defending-champion Elkader Central leads a trip of hopefuls from the Upper Iowa Conference (Lansing Kee and South Winneshiek are the others). Central edged Kee by eight points at the Solon region. Hudson enters as the top-rated team after reigning at a strong Ottumwa regional.
How they’ll finish — 1. Elkader Central, 2. Hudson, 3. Lansing Kee, 4. South Winneshiek, 5. Bellevue Marquette.
Start time — 2:30 p.m.
Individual race — Senior Riley Bauer of North Union is back to defend his crown (he claimed the title by 23 seconds last year). His 16:12 effort on the Eagle Grove course was best among the 1A districts, and he won that race by 42 ticks. Evan Wilson of Exira-EHK and Brycen Wallace of Nodaway Valley went to the wire at Mount Ayr, with Wilson winning by less than a second. Brady Griebel leads a powerful pack from Bellevue.
Team race — Nodaway Valley ran away with it last year, scoring 36 points and winning by 56. Nodaway will get more resistance this year in the form of Bellevue. Tenth last year, the Comets ran 1-2-3-7 at the Solon district and jolted the competition with a 23-point outing. It would be a major surprise if somebody else snuck into the title hunt, but if anybody does, it could be district champs Madrid or Pekin.
How they’ll finish — 1. Bellevue, 2. Nodaway Valley, 3. Madrid, 4. Pekin, 5. South Winneshiek.
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