116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
FORT DODGE — For the second straight year, the Iowa high school state cross country meet is a two-day event, Friday and Saturday at Lakeside Golf Course.
Here's a primer on the meet:
Class 4A girls
Time — 10:30 a.m. Friday
Individuals to watch — Defending champion Keelee Leitzen of Dubuque Hempstead, a sophomore, is back. She and teammate Julia Gehl toured the Seminole Valley Park course together in 18:17 last week. Pleasant Valley freshman Grace Boleyn is ranked No. 1 and claimed a regional crown on her home course in 18:50. That was 12 seconds faster than Iowa City Liberty senior Ashlyn Keeney, who also figures to contend Friday. Johnston’s Olivia Verde and West Des Moines Valley’s Addison Dorenkamp were top-10 state finishers last year and regional champions last week.
The team race — Pleasant Valley lived up to its No. 1 ranking at regionals, getting a 1-3-6 finish at the front, scoring 44 points and winning by 45. Defending champion Johnston has the look of a contender to repeat. The Dragons came into the postseason ranked fifth, and handily beat No. 2 Ames at the Marshalltown regional, placing four runners in the top seven. Led by Gehl and Leitzen, Hempstead had four in the top five at Seminole Valley, and Des Moines Roosevelt edged West Des Moines Dowling by five points at Indianola in a duel of top-five hopefuls.
How they’ll finish — 1. Pleasant Valley, 2. Johnston, 3. Dubuque Hempstead, 4. Ames, 5. Des Moines Roosevelt.
Class 4A boys
Time — 11:15 a.m. Friday
Individuals to watch — The top returning finisher from last year (third), Jackson Heidesch of West Des Moines Dowling asserted himself as the favorite, running 15:36 and topping top-ranked Alex McKane of Iowa City West by 24 seconds. McKane was 11th in 2020. Fourth last year, Sioux City North’s William Lohr ran 15:29 at Ankeny and led a pack of North Stars. Iowa City High’s Ford Washburn finished sixth last year and paced the field at Pleasant Valley, finishing in 16:06. Derek Leicht of Dubuque Hempstead posted the fastest district time, 15:27 at Seminole Valley Park.
The team race — It would take a major effort for somebody to unseat Sioux City North. The defending champion got a 1-2-3 sweep from Lohr, Natnael Kifle and Gabe Nash and posted a 20-point tally at Ankeny. West Des Moines Dowling finished second to North last year and rolled to the title at Indianola. Keep an eye on Iowa City High and Dubuque Hempstead of the Mississippi Valley Conference. The Little Hawks scored a tidy 23 points at Pleasant Valley, and Hempstead was the champion at Seminole Valley.
How they’ll finish — 1. Sioux City North, 2. Iowa City High, 3. West Des Moines Dowling, 4. Dubuque Hempstead, 5. Cedar Falls.
Class 3A girls
Time — 2:30 p.m. Friday
Individuals to watch — The top two contenders went head-to-head at the Pella regional, with Ballard junior Paityn Noe (19:28) prevailing by 15 seconds over Carlisle senior Ainsley Erzen. That duo finished second and third last year. Geneva Timmerman, a junior at Adel ADM, was seventh last year and won the Winterset regional in 19:10. Other winners last week were Alyssa Klein of Western Dubuque (at Decorah), Emily Haverdink of MOC-Floyd Valley (at Le Mars) and Kayla Young of Solon (at Solon).
The team race — Solon took over the No. 1 slot early in the season, and hasn’t surrendered it. Led by Young and Emma Bock, the Spartans went 1-2-6-8-9 in dominating a regional on their home course, and head to Fort Dodge as the favorite. Last year’s champion, Ballard was probably vastly underrated at No. 9 before regionals. The Bombers ought to be in the running for another top-three finish. Dallas Center-Grimes was second last year and led the field at Winterset, one that featured three top-five teams.
How they’ll finish — 1. Solon, 2. Dallas Center-Grimes, 3. Ballard, 4. North Polk, 5. Western Dubuque.
Class 3A boys
Time — 3:15 p.m. Friday
Individuals to watch — Aidan Ramsey of Dallas Center-Grimes and Eli Larson of Center Point-Urbana were third and fourth last year. Those two, plus Eli Naumann of Western Dubuque, are most likely to be at the very front of the pack. Ramsey was the champion of the Winterset district, running in 15:31 and opening a 38-second margin. Naumann edged Larson at Decorah by four seconds, and nobody else was within a minute. Marion teammates Shane Erb and Jedidiah Osgood ran 1-2 at Solon and ought to be in the mix for top-five honors, along with Lance Sobaski of Washington (Iowa).
The team race — Probably a two-team battle. Defending champion Dallas Center-Grimes and Marion both dominated their respective districts. DCG had five runners in the top 11 at Winterset; Marion did likewise at Solon and won by 44 points. Marion was a cross country powerhouse long, long ago, winning 10 state titles between 1945 and 1958. It hasn’t won one since, and this might be the team to do it. Last year’s runner-up, Solon should push for a top-five spot Friday.
How they’ll finish — 1. Dallas Center-Grimes, 2. Marion, 3. North Polk, 4. Glenwood, 5. Solon.
Class 2A girls
Time — 10:30 a.m. Saturday
Individuals to watch — Mid-Prairie sophomore Danielle Hostetler is chasing her second consecutive title, and the sixth in a row for her family — Anna Hostetler was the champion in 2016, then Marie won three straight (2017-19) — and built a 60-second margin at the Williamsburg regional, winning in 18:49. But this isn’t a gimme. Ellie Rathe of Union Community is a legitimate challenger, running 19:01 at Anamosa and winning by 1:13. Katelyn Johnston of Osage also ran a sub-19 regional race, at Dike.
The team race — With the top four runners (and six of the top seven) returning from last year’s team that won by 62 points, Mid-Prairie is heavily favored to make it five 2A state titles in a row. If it happens, the Golden Hawks will join Iowa City High (1989-93) and West Des Moines Dowling (2007-11) as five-time winners. The Golden Hawks went 1-2-3-4-8 at Williamsburg. Denver and Monticello were regional champions and should lead the race for second place.
How they’ll finish — 1. Mid-Prairie, 2. Denver, 3. Monticello, 4. Williamsburg, 5. Tipton.
Class 2A boys
Time — 11:15 a.m. Saturday
Individuals to watch — Ty Carr of Danville-New London was the runner-up last year and pulled away toward the end of the race to win the individual title at the Anamosa district. The Des Moines Christian duo of Aaron Fynaardt and Carson Houg will be in the mix; both ran sub-16 at Gowrie. Others in a lengthy list of contenders include Tage Hulstein of Western Christian (the champion at Orange City) and Carson Shively of Davis County (he won at Williamsburg).
The team race — Danville-New London and Tipton ran 1-2 at state last year and renewed acquaintances at the Anamosa district, with Tipton prevailing by a score of 33 points to 44. That puts the favorite’s tag in Tipton’s pocket by a narrow margin. Williamsburg edged Mid-Prairie by a 64-66 verdict at the Williamsburg district, and they’ll probably be racing for third Saturday.
How they’ll finish — 1. Tipton, 2. Danville-New London, 3. Williamsburg, 4. Mid-Prairie, 5. Des Moines Christian.
Class 1A girls
Time — 2:30 p.m. Saturday
Individuals to watch — The top three runners are back from last year, but Calamus-Wheatland freshman Noelle Steines has raced into the spotlight. Steines ran 18:48 at the Cascade regional, winning by nearly 90 seconds. Her top challengers are the Upper Iowa Conference trio of Jalyssa Blazek (Turkey Valley), Haley Meyer (Lansing Kee) and Billie Wagner (South Winneshiek). Meyer is the defending champion. Courtney Sporrer of Logan-Magnolia and Addison Grady of Hudson were top-10 runners last year, and North Linn’s Meghan Wheatley won the Iowa City regional race by more than a minute.
The team race — Hudson edged South Winneshiek by two points for the title last year, and both the Pirates and the Warriors ought to be in the mix again. Logan-Magnolia probably rates as a slight favorite, though. The Panthers prevailed at the Panora region by a 36-point margin, scoring just 39 points.
How they’ll finish — 1. Logan-Magnolia, 2. South Winneshiek, 3. Hudson, 4. Earlham, 5. Fort Dodge St. Edmond.
Class 1A boys
Time — 3:15 p.m. Saturday
Individuals to watch — With all of the top five 2020 finishers graduated, and 11 of the top 12, it’s a new cast of contenders. Jayden Dickson of Earlham is the top returner after finishing sixth in 2020. He won the Pekin district. Riley Witt of Saint Ansgar edged Bryce McDonough of Central Springs at the Mason City district, and both of those guys should be in the picture, along with Isaac Natvig of Valley Lutheran.
The team race — Guthrie Center ACGC lived up to its top ranking at the Panora district, winning by 22 points. ACGC was fourth last year. This is the year they’ve been waiting for at Maquoketa Valley. The Wildcats won a district title at Guttenberg and should improve on last year’s sixth-place finish. The 2020 runner-up, Earlham edged Pella Christian by six points last week at Pekin.
How they’ll finish — 1. Guthrie Center ACGC, 2. Maquoketa Valley, 3. Earlham, 4. Valley Lutheran, 5. Pella Christian.