ORANGE CITY, Iowa – The highly-ranked teams, as expected, ran away with team titles Thursday at the Iowa Class 2A state qualifying cross country meet.
The second-ranked Woodbury Central/Kingsley-Pierson girls and the top-ranked George-Little Rock/Central Lyon boys captured first-place team banners during races at Landsmeer Golf Course.
The WC/KP girls, placing all seven runners in the top 16, scored 31 points to advance to state for just the second time in program history and the first since 2014.
Led by its senior trio of Rylee Wright, Suzanne Putze and KayLynne Bechen, the WC/KP girls won its ninth straight team title out of 10 meets this season.
“We definitely pushed each other in practices, we knew where we wanted to be, we knew what our goal was, which was to win district and to make school history,” said Wright. “We all worked well together to accomplish that goal.”
Wright covered the 5,000-meter course in 19:22.8 to finish second behind Underwood senior Karley Larson, who was third at state last fall, and ran 18:55.4 to win the race.
Putze came across the line third in 19:47.6 while Bechen was seventh in 21:05.7 and was followed by the team’s four freshmen in Kalyn Cameron (ninth), Makayla Archer (10th), Sarah Putze (11th) and Mary Putze (16th).
“So many thoughts go through your head leading up to this day,” said Suzanne Putze. “You really don’t know until after you race what it means, it’s just an incredible feeling after you have made it.”
The George-Little Rock/Central Lyon boys, led by the 1-2 finish from senior Gable Sieperda and junior Joe Anderson, are headed back to state for the second straight season.
The Mustangs were fourth a year ago and after scoring 38 points behind four in the top 11 have sights on a much higher finish this time around.
“It’s just a big sigh of relief,” said Sieperda, who ran 15:26.9 to win the race by over a minute over teammate Anderson. “We have been counting down the days to this day for a long time and now that it’s finally here and over with its mission accomplished. It’s something that is really special.”
Anderson finished in 16:44.8 as the two teammates went 1-2 for the fifth time this season. Blake Johnson, a junior, was fifth while the Mustangs other two counting runners were senior Josh Haken (11th) and junior Taeron Olson (22nd).
The Unity Christian girls, led by War Eagle Conference champion Darby Schuiteman (17th), advanced to state for the 12th straight year following a second-place finish behind WC/KP. Emmetsburg, paced by Raven Brown in fourth and Gabrielle Janssen in sixth, is the third girls team moving on to Fort Dodge.
Fourth-ranked Sioux Center boys, the runners-up in this qualifying meet much like the Siouxland Conference meet, are going to state for the first time since 2014.
Sam Harrison, a sophomore, led the Warriors with a third-place finish for a group that had its five counting runners in the top 19 of the race.
The only drama on the night unfolded for the third and final team spot on the boys side as two points separated Unity Christian and Western Christian, two programs that rank in the top 10 in state history for most state appearances.
The Knights, advancing to state for the fifth straight season and the 32nd in school history, were led by junior Joseph Schoonhoven, fourth in the race in 17:01.4.
“We had to be healthy today, that made all the difference that we came into it healthy,” said Unity Christian coach Karl Kaemingk. “We had the proper mindset, we were truly ready to be fourth because we knew it would be that close and we would be excited for Western if they were the ones going.
“It feels great but I feel terrible for Western. They’re a good team. This was a tough district, we're going to have a lot of placers doing well at state.”
Schoonhoven, a state medalist a year ago, is one of just two runners back from last year’s state runner-up team, the Knights fourth straight state podium (top three) finish.
“He has had two tough races where the wheels kind of fell off,” said Kaemingk. “He is a team player, he does everything that the coaches ask. I’m so happy for him. He was the only one able to punch his ticket (individually).”
The state meet unfolds next Saturday at Lakeside Golf Course in Fort Dodge.
Team standings (top 3 to state): George-Little Rock/Central Lyon 38, Sioux Center 61, Unity Christian 107, Western Christian 109, Missouri Valley 136, Forest City 162, Emmetsburg 221, OA-BCIG 234, Estherville-Lincoln Central 252, West Lyon 252, Underwood 269, Cherokee 328.
State qualifiers: 1, Gable Sieperda, GLRCL, 15:26.9; 2, Joe Anderson, GLRCL, 16:44.8; 3, Sam Harrison, Sioux Center, 17:00.8; 4, Joseph Schoonhoven, Unity Christian, 17:01.4; 5, Blake Johnson, GLRCL, 17:07.4; 6, Dylan Blake, MVAOCOU, 17:16.0; 7, Jordan Hustak, Missouri Valley, 17:18.6; 8, Cruz Bowman, Emmetsburg, 17:21.8; 9, Taylor Myers, Estherville-LC, 17:27.1; 10, Gage Graeve, Missouri Valley, 17:30.0; 11, Josh Haken, GLRCL, 17:32.1; 12, Peter Shippy, Sioux Center, 17:36.1; 13, Kalyn Langenhorst, West Lyon, 17:41.3; 14, Jon Veldman, Western Christian, 17:41.7; 15, Gabe Rathbun, Sioux Center, 17:47.5.
Team standings (top 3 to state): Woodbury Central/Kingsley-Pierson 31, Unity Christian 111, Emmetsburg 130, Underwood 164, George-Little Rock/Central Lyon 177, West Lyon 181, Estherville-LC 187, Forest City 194, Western Christian 214, MVAOCOU 239, Cherokee 258, Sioux Center 277, OABCIG 282, Missouri Valley 309.
State qualifiers: 1, Karley Larson, Underwood, 18:55.4; 2, Rylee Wright, WCKP, 19:22.8; 3, Suzanne Putze, WCKP, 19:47.6; 4, Raven Brown, Emmetsburg, 20:38.8; 5, Whitney Minderhoud, Western Christian, 20:51.6; 6, Gabrielle Janssen, Emmetsburg, 20:54.7; 7, KayLynne Bechen, WCKP, 21:05.7; 8, Madison Schiernbeck, OA-BCIG, 21:08.1; 9, Kalyn Cameron, WCKP, 21:08.4; 10, Makayla Archer, WCKP, 21:08.8; 11, Sarah Putze, WCKP, 21:09.6; 12, Riley Christoffer, EStherville-LC, 21:22.2; 13, MaKayla Witt, GLRCL, 21:23.8; 14, Hailey Foxhoven, Emmetsburg, 21;28.1; 15, Sarah Perez, West Lyon, 21:29.9.