MANCHESTER — It is suddenly a season of firsts for the Clear Creek Amana boys’ cross country team.
And the Clippers aren’t done yet.
“It is just a really good opportunity we had,” CCA junior Brandon Barker said after his runner-up individual finish helped the Class 3A top-ranked Clippers win the first Wamac Conference team title in school history Thursday at Hart Ridge Golf Course. “Our whole team made a really tight split. We all packed together and we really wanted to show that our team is someone to watch.”
Barker (16:17.1) finished five seconds behind first-time champion Eli Larson of Center Point-Urbana. CCA senior teammates Nick O’Connor (16:33.8) and Jack Sexton (16:40.4) placed third and fourth respectively, which gave the Clippers three runners in the top four.
Throw in sophomore Gavin Zillyette (16:56.9) and junior Caleb Alcorn (17:17.8), and CCA had five runners in the top-13 placements.
“For the past three or four years, we have just been huge on pack running and running against each other and pushing each other all throughout the race,” O’Connor said. “That is basically the main goal we go by.”
The Clippers finished with 30 points, easily distancing themselves from runner-up CPU (69) and defending champion Marion, which finished third with 80 points.
By flipping last season’s second place Wamac finish into its first team title, CCA charges into a state-qualifying meet next Thursday at Solon with a full head of steam. A big day there will put the Clippers in prime position to win their first state championship after a rousing runner-up performance in Fort Dodge last year.
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“Perfect,” CCA Coach Ben Robison said. “It has been incredible. They have the experience, they know what it takes to be on the deck. They have just worked that whole system throughout the season. It is just one step in the process.”
CPU also claimed an individual title in the girls’ race as senior Adrianna Katcher cruised to her fourth Wamac title in a row with a time of 18:48.5. A two-time Class 3A state champion who finished second at state last year, Katcher appears poised to make another title run.
“Just doing what I have been doing all season,” Katcher said. “As Coach (Amy Poduska) said before the race today, she said, ‘There is nothing else you can do different. Just do everything you have been doing and just a little bit better.’ That is what I plan on doing.”
Grace Schaefer of Williamsburg was a distant second in 19:33.5 and helped the Raiders claim the girls’ team title with 54 points by placing five runners in the top 18.
The Solon girls (68) were second, while CPU (82) finished third.
Wamac cross country
Teams — 1. Williamsburg 54, 2. Solon 68, 3. Center Point-Urbana 82, 4. DeWitt Central 131, 5. Marion 148, 6. Mount Vernon-Lisbon 161, 7. Clear Creek Amana 173, 8. Benton Community 177, 9. Independence 227, 10. South Tama 245, 11. West Delaware 351, 12. Maquoketa 359, 13. Vinton-Shellsburg 371, 14. Dyersville Beckman 393.
Individuals — 1. Adrianna Katcher (CPU), 18:48.5; 2. Grace Schaefer (Will), 19:33.5; 3. Haidyn Barker (CCA), 19:34.1; 4. Kiersten Conway (Sol), 19:39.3; 5. Callie Frakes (ST), 20:00.3; 6. Mary Fiala (Sol), 20:02.8; 7. Megan Rathjen (Wil), 20:08.7; 8. Aubrey Frey (MVL), 20:10.3.
Teams — 1. Clear Creek Amana 30, 2. Center Point-Urbana 69, 3. Marion 80, 4. Mount Vernon-Lisbon 101, 5. Williamsburg 136, 6. West Delaware 147, 7. Solon 173, 8. Benton Community 232, 9. Vinton-Shellsburg 260, 10. South Tama 292, 11. DeWitt Central 302, 12. Independence 350, 13. Dyersville Beckman 386.
Individuals — 1. Eli Larson (CPU), 16:12.7; 2. Brandon Barker (CCA), 16:17.1; 3. Nick O’Connor (CCA), 16:33.8; 4. Jack Sexton (CCA), 16:40.4; 5. Zach Fall (MVL), 16:45.1; 6. Luke Post (CPU), 16:47.3; 7. Gabe Hinman (Sol), 16:56.5; 8. Gavin Zillyette (CCA), 16:56.9.