Prep Sports

Iowa state cross country preview: Scouting the individual and team races

The action starts at 11 a.m. at Lakeside Golf Course, Fort Dodge

Center Point-Urbana’s Adrianna Katcher builds a lead in the girls’ Class 3A race during the 2017 state cross country meet. Katcher was the 3A champion in 2016 and 2017, the runner-up last year. (The Gazette)
Center Point-Urbana’s Adrianna Katcher builds a lead in the girls’ Class 3A race during the 2017 state cross country meet. Katcher was the 3A champion in 2016 and 2017, the runner-up last year. (The Gazette)

FORT DODGE — The 2019 Iowa high school state cross country meet is Saturday at Lakeside Golf Course.

Here’s a primer on the meetl

Class 4A girls

Time — 11 a.m.

Individuals to watch — Defending champion Micah Poellet of Linn-Mar returns after winning the Pleasant Valley regional by 45 seconds. But the co-favorites are Ashlyn Keeney of Iowa City Liberty and Camille Jackson of Ames, both of whom broke 18 minutes at their regional meets. The ninth-place finisher at state last year, Jackson outran Lillian Schmidt of Dubuque Senior (sixth last year) by 54 seconds. Keeney, a sophomore, built a 32-second margin at Marshalltown. Mattison Plummer of Southeast Polk was the runner-up last year, but ran second to Des Moines Roosevelt freshman Arianna Jackson at Pleasant Hill last week.

Read more: Bizarre summer incident hasn't slowed Liberty's Ashlyn Keeney

The team race — None of the regional races were close last week, indicating that the IGHSAU split the teams correctly. Southeast Polk was a surprise champion last year, edging Johnston by a point. The Dragons bring back all seven runners, while the Rams return six. If anybody slips past those Central Iowa powers, it probably will be Dubuque Senior, which placed five runners in the top 10 at the Cedar Falls regional. Poellet led Linn-Mar’s 1-3-5-7 attack to win the title at Pleasant Valley.

How they’ll finish — 1. Johnston, 2. Southeast Polk, 3. Dubuque Senior, 4. Linn-Mar, 5. Waukee

Class 4A boys

Time — 11:30 a.m.

Individuals to watch — Pleasant Valley’s Max Murphy broke the 16-minute barrier at districts, running 15:50 on his home course to win by 13 seconds over Dubuque Hempstead’s Ryan Winger, the Mississippi Valley Conference champion. Four of the top seven finishers from last year are back, and three of them hail from the Cedar Rapids/Marion Metro area. Cedar Rapids Prairie’s Jack Pendergast (second in 2018) and Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Jacob Green (sixth) were district champions at Marshalltown and Cedar Falls, respectively, while Linn-Mar’s Dylan Dolezal (seventh) was behind Murphy and Winger at PV. Sam Hall of West Des Moines Dowling was fourth last year and must be included in the list of contenders, as well.

Read more: 3 Metro runners have their eyes on the Class 4A boys' cross country title

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The team race — Dowling edged Hempstead by a single point for the title last year, and both teams return five runners from 2018. Dowling ran away with the district title at Pleasant Hill, while Pleasant Valley won a tiebreaker over Hempstead at Pleasant Valley. Dowling, PV and Hempstead are the top players in the team race Saturday. Cedar Rapids Prairie had a tidy 1-3-4 finish to headline the Marshalltown district, and could sneak onto the Lakeside deck as a top-three finisher.

How they’ll finish — 1. Dubuque Hempstead, 2. Pleasant Valley, 3. West Des Moines Dowling, 4. Cedar Rapids Prairie, 5. Cedar Falls

Class 3A girls

Time — Noon

Individuals to watch — Though she’ll play basketball at Southern Illinois, Adrianna Katcher of Center Point-Urbana also closes a tremendous cross country career Saturday. The 3A individual champion in 2016 and 2017, Katcher ran second last year and figures to duel with Carlisle’s Ainsley Erzen (fourth last year) for top honors this time around. Katcher was the Solon regional champion, and Erzen reigned at Atlantic. Gabby Moran of Dubuque Wahlert was the third-place finisher last year. She was edged by one second at the Independence region by Charles City’s Kiki Connell.

The team race — Fourth last year, Ballard has been the dominant team this fall. The Bombers placed all seven of their runners in the top 13 at the Humboldt regional. They returned all seven runners from last year’s team, plus added a pair of prominent freshmen. Second-ranked Dubuque Wahlert is the defending champion and returns its top six runners from 2018, and the Golden Eagles have the best shot of anybody to derail the Bombers. Dallas Center-Grimes was the 2018 runner-up and posted a 26-point total (1-3-5-8-9) at Pella.

How they’ll finish — 1. Ballard, 2. Dubuque Wahlert, 3. Dallas Center-Grimes, 4. Harlan, 5. Solon

Class 3A boys

Time — 12:30 p.m.

Individuals to watch — Humboldt’s Quinton Orr is the top returner from last year, earning runner-up honors. He won by 31 seconds on his home course at districts, in 16:29. Adel ADM’s Nate Mueller and Center Point-Urbana’s Luke Post were third and fourth last season. Mueller blazed to victory at the Atlantic district in 15:57, building a 45-second winning margin. Post was edged for the district title at Solon by Brandon Barker of Clear Creek Amana. Aidan Ramsey of Dallas Center-Grimes and Brady Hogan of Decorah also earned district titles.

The team race — The runner-up to Gilbert last year, Clear Creek Amana brought back five runners this season, and has been penciled as the team to beat all fall. The Clippers won the Solon district, but by only five points over Center Point-Urbana. The Clippers had four in the top seven. Dallas Center-Grimes had the top three runners in an impressive showing at Pella, and Carlisle (fourth last year) was the champion at Atlantic.

How they’ll finish — 1. Clear Creek Amana, 2. Dallas Center-Grimes, 3. Center Point-Urbana, 4. Dubuque Wahlert, 5. Carlisle

Class 2A girls

Time — 1 p.m.

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Individuals to watch — Mid-Prairie’s Marie Hostetler will close the book on a standout cross country career Saturday, and is favored to win her third consecutive 2A championship. The Liberty University commit ran away from the field at the Williamsburg regional, finishing in 17:51. Her primary competition will come from Emily Staal of Springville-Central City, the 2018 runner-up and the 2017 1A champion. Staal built her own safe regional margin — 75 seconds — at Monticello, finishing in 18:10. Kate Crawford of Guthrie Center ACGC and Ella Waddle of Panorama should lead the chase pack.

The team race — Perhaps the most intriguing race of the day, between neighbors Williamsburg and Mid-Prairie, who will tangle for the fifth time this season. Defending state champ Mid-Prairie won the first three meetings by 19, 15 and 10 points before the Raiders prevailed by six points at regionals. Two keys: Can Williamsburg minimize the points margin between Hostetler and its top runner(s)? And can the Raiders’ No. 5 runner beat Mid-Prairie’s No. 4? An extremely young Monticello squad might be a dark horse; all seven of the participating Panthers are freshmen and sophomores.

How they’ll finish — 1. Williamsburg, 2. Mid-Prairie, 3. Monticello, 4. Unity Christian, 5. WC-KP

Class 2A boys

Time — 1:30 p.m.

Individuals to watch — The top returning placewinner (fourth) last year, Caleb Shumaker of Tipton did nothing to hurt his status as 2019 favorite, winning a district title at West Union, nine seconds ahead of Bellevue’s Brady Griebel, who finished sixth last year. Louden Foster of West Central Valley edged Des Moines Christian’s Cody Smith at Panorama, and both of them are on the list of title contenders. So is Lake LeBahn of Union Community, who beat Quinton Grove of South Hamilton at the Dike district.

The team race — Defending champion Tipton brings back five runners, including its ace (Shumaker). And that’s plenty of evidence that the Tigers are favored to repeat. They placed their top six runners in the top nine at the West Union district and won it by 90 points. Monticello and Des Moines Christian enjoyed similarly dominant performances. The Panthers had five in the top 10 and beat a very good South Hardin squad by 49 points at Dike, and DMC had six in the top 11 and scored 30 points at Panora.

How they’ll finish — 1. Tipton, 2. Monticello, 3. Des Moines Christian, 4. Okoboji, 5. Williamsburg

Class 1A girls

Time — 2 p.m.

Individuals to watch — A strong field here got stronger with Aplington-Parkersburg’s drop from 2A to 1A. A-P’s ace, Sophia Jungling was third in 2A last year, and rates as no worse than a co-favorite in the small-school race, along with 2018 1A runner-up Peyton Pogge of Tri-Center. Jungling and Pogge both ran 19:26 at their respective regionals (Jungling at Marshalltown, Pogge at Holstein). A trio of young Upper Iowa Conference stars adds depth to the field. Freshman Billie Wagner of South Winneshiek won at the Cedar Falls regional in 19:28, followed closely by sophomores Haley Meyer of Lansing Kee and Jalyssa Blazek of Turkey Valley.

The team race — Logan-Magnolia is the defending champion (leading the field by 62 points), returned six runners from that team and ran away from the competition at the Holstein regional. The Panthers are heavy favorites to repeat, with their top competition coming from Northeast Iowa. Lansing Kee upset Denver at the Cedar Falls regional by 11 points, and Aplington-Parkersburg got a 1-5 finish at the front to claim top honors at Marshalltown.

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How they’ll finish — 1. Logan-Magnolia, 2. Lansing Kee, 3. Denver, 4. Aplington-Parkersburg, 5. Iowa City Regina

Class 1A boys

Time — 2:30 p.m.

Individuals to watch — Will Roder of Le Mars Gehlen is probably best known for being part of the 1A 3,200/2,800-meter fiasco at the state track meet, but he’s simply a superb runner, too. He was third at Lakeside last year, and won the Holstein district title by 23 seconds. Joshua Baudler of Nodaway Valley was the runner-up last year and racked up a 16-second margin at Mount Ayr last week. Other district champions were Jason Renze of Madrid, Chase Knoche of Calamus-Wheatland and Riley Witt of Saint Ansgar.

The team race — Defending champion Madrid rates as a significant favorite after running roughshod over the competition at the Marshalltown district, placing five in the top 12, scoring 35 points and winning by 52. Nodaway Valley placed three runners in the top eight and tripped Earlham, 43-61, for the title at Mount Ayr. Jamison Meyer led South Winneshiek’s 2-4-8-9 parade at Cedar Falls, and Calamus-Wheatland (the 2018 state runner-up) rolled to the title at Iowa City.

How they’ll finish — 1. Madrid, 2. Nodaway Valley, 3. Calamus-Wheatland, 4. Earlham, 5. South Winneshiek

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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