IDA GROVE, Iowa | Bailey Hare is off to strong start to her senior cross country season.
The OA-BCIG senior, a three-time state qualifier, is looking to add a fourth state meet berth to her resume later this season.
For now, Hare is content on just getting better each and every time she hits the course, as shown by her three individual titles and an individual runner-up this season.
“I’m just going all out, trying to have fun and trying to do my best,” said Hare after she won the Tim Thomas Classic in Holstein earlier this season.
Hare opened her senior season with a victory in the Spencer Invite, covering the 4,000-meter course at the Spencer Golf and Country Club in 16:22. She followed that with a win at the Okoboji Invite, running the Milford Golf Course in 17:12.
Running 16:20.23 in Holstein earned her the Class A individual title while her only loss on the season has come against three-time state champion Rebekah Topham of Griswold. Hare, who is currently ranked seventh in Class 2A by the Iowa Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches, ran 17:00.15 to finish as runner-up to Topham (16:13.59) at the Kuemper Invite in Carroll last Saturday.
Hare, a state medalist in the 3,000 last spring, finished eighth in the 2A state cross country meet as a freshman. After placing 23rd as a sophomore and 21st last fall, she is looking forward to a return to the top 10 at state this fall.
“I’m trying to get back to that top 10 at state,” said Hare, also a three-time Western Valley Conference medalist. “I want to do better than seventh this year, definitely aiming at top 10.”
Several Northwest Iowa teams are among the state rankings that are compiled each Wednesday by the IATFCC.
Unity Christian girls and boys teams hold down the top spot in Class 2A as we head into the fifth week of the season.
The Lady Knights, last year’s state runners-up, champions in 2011 and 2012, are led by three-time state medalist in senior Kassidy De Jong, who is ranked second among individuals in Class 2A.
The Unity Christian girls hold the No. 1 ranking despite not finishing any higher than third in its three meets this season.
The Unity Christian boys, meanwhile, returned six of its seven runners from a third place state finish last fall, and have captured team titles in two of its three meets this season, the Spirit Lake Invite and Gary Meyer Invite hosted by Le Mars.
The Knights are paced by junior Schuyler Malenke, ranked 12th and sophomores Jacob Vander Plaats and Franklin Reinders, who are ranked 22nd and 25th, respectively.
The Class 2A rankings have a particularly strong Northwest Iowa flavor that includes 10 of the top 25 boys and seven of the top 25 girls.
The 29th annual Roy Griak Invitational is schedule for Saturday at Les Bolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights, Minn.
Sioux City North will be one of the 55 teams entered in the High School Maroon division. Meanwhile, four other Iowa schools, Ames, Des Moines Roosevelt, Dowling Catholic and Pleasant Valley will compete in the High School Gold division that includes 46 teams.
The Stars boys team has won four of its five meets this season and finished second behind Class 3A third-ranked Algona, by six points, in the other.
Also competing in the Griak will be Great Plains Athletic Conference schools Dordt, Morningside, Northwestern and Concordia. The Dordt women are ranked second in the NAIA rankings while the Morningside men and Concordia men are 14th and 20th, respectively. The next NAIA rankings will be released Wednesday.
The GPAC schools will compete against NCAA Division II schools in the Maroon II races.
Former Sioux City East state champion Shelby Houlihan, now a senior at Arizona State University, is the defending Griak individual champion in the Jack Johnson Women’s Gold (Division I) race. Houlihan will be making her senior season debut on Saturday.