ROCK RAPIDS, Iowa – Gable Sieperda’s goals were simple for his final prep cross country season.
The talented Central Lyon senior wanted to leave everything on the course every time he toed the line this fall.
Sieperda also sought to leave a mark on a George-Little Rock/Central Lyon program that barely had enough runners to field a team when he entered high school four years ago.
Sieperda accomplished both missions throughout the season, ending the campaign with an exclamation point at the Iowa High School State Cross Country Championships in Fort Dodge last Saturday.
The Sioux City Journal’s Male Cross Country Runner of the Year not only won the Class 2A individual state title, running 15:18.6 over the 5,000-meter course at Lakeside Golf Course, his time also topped efforts among all classes.
“That’s between me and myself, but that means a lot to me,” said Sieperda of his time, which ranks 20th all-time in state meet history. “I don’t think Class 2A and Class 1A get a lot of credit. Small schools in general, I don’t think get a lot of credit.
“I just want to let everyone know that I’m the best and that’s something that I always believed,” he said.
Sieperda led the Mustangs to the state championship as a team, the first in program history (since 1997) in the team’s fifth state meet appearance. Central Lyon won a state title in 1969.
“I thought more about the team title than I have about the individual title, absolutely,” Sieperda said. “(The) individual title is fine, it’s cool in yourself, but to be able to share that with seven guys and your community means a whole other story.
“No one looks back in 20 years and says Gable Sieperda won the 2A title in 2017, everyone looks back and says GLR/CL won the team trophy on that year and that’s the stuff that gets remembered, and that’s what I’m most thankful for; is a group of guys to go out there and be the best with and that’s awesome.”
Sieperda’s dominant senior season saw him compete in nine races, winning seven times. He never lost to an Iowa runner, while his closest margin of victory was 37 seconds. Remarkably, he enjoyed a 45-second victory margin at the state meet.
Sieperda finished second twice, both times to South Dakota Class A state champion Derrick Peters of West Central, the Roy Griak Gold Division champion.
The two will race again on Sunday in Sioux Falls at the Nike Heartland Regional meet at Yankton Trail Park, a chance Sieperda relishes.
“That sucks (two second-place efforts). I want to race him again, I feel like I can be right up there with him,” said Sieperda.
The four-time state meet medalist won 21 individual races in 37 career meets with the lowest finish being sixth, something he did twice at the state meet his first two years in high school.
Individual races and finishes aside, the son of Steve and Diane Sieperda was only concerned about the team, each and every time it stepped to the line.
He wanted to leave the program, one guided by coaches Curt and Lori Fiedler, in a better position than when he entered high school. Another mission accomplished as the Mustangs landed two seniors on the state-title team along with four juniors and a sophomore.
The competition to compete on the varsity squad was fierce throughout the year, a hallmark during many banner seasons.
Joe Anderson and Blake Johnson followed Sieperda across the state-meet finish line with third- and sixth-place finishes, respectively. It was the second state medal for Anderson and the first for Johnson, who was 77th as a sophomore.
“It’s an indescribable feeling, I was yelling my lungs out at the finish line,” said Sieperda. “I expected Joe to be right behind me, so that didn’t surprise me. Blake was a huge part of today, if Blake finished 15th, 20th it’s a whole different story.
“For him to pull off a top-six finish, I honestly didn’t think he would get sixth, that’s just me. Man he ran the best of his life and I’m so proud of him and a big reason why we won today is Blake and I’m thankful for that," Sieperda stated in a post-meet interview.
As Sieperda moves on to college, Anderson assumes the leadership role for a Mustangs team that will be hungry to return to the state meet again in 2018.
“Being the leader next year, Gable has prepared me for that,” Anderson said. “That’s a great team to lead, we're all so close, they don’t really need a leader. They just need someone to facilitate the growth.