FORT DODGE, Iowa – The emotions were flowing afterward as the Woodbury Central/Kingsley-Pierson girls cross country team put a cap on its strongest season in program history.
Dominant all season in the local meets and the team champions at the state qualifying meet, the sixth-year program coached by Jill Gallagher and Dean Harpenau walked away from the Iowa State Cross Country Championships with the first team trophy in team history.
Rylee Wright and Suzanne Putze both medaled with top-10 finishes and the WC/KP team totaled 103 points to finish third in the 2A team race. Mid-Prairie, led by the 1-2 finish of Marie Hostetler and Anna Hostetler won the team title with 65 points while Monticello, last year’s champs, were second, just seven points back.
“I don’t think it sucks (that it’s over), it was such an amazing experience I can’t even think about it sucking that it’s over,” said Wright. “It doesn’t feel real, it doesn’t feel real that we placed, we did so good.
“It feels incredible, this, just getting the trophy, now people know that we are good.”
Wright, earning her first medal in three state appearances, ran 19:31.5 to finish eighth while fellow senior Putze, a three-time medalist, was right behind her in ninth in 19:39.7.
The four freshmen on the squad all matched or set new personal bests in the state meet, a big reason why WC/KP walked away with the first team trophy in program history.
Makayla Archer finished 28th in 20:35.0 followed by Sarah Putze in 46th (20:59.2), Kalyn Cameron in 47th (21:01.3) and Mary Putze in 52nd (21:11.7). KayLynne Bechen, the third senior, was 77th in 21:48.4.
“I can’t explain it in words,” said an emotional Suzanne Putze. “I don’t know, it’s just like a dream come true, it’s something that I would never have imagined.
“I never would have imagined the feeling or what it would be like watching it all happen.”
Woodbury Central/Kingsley-Pierson had won nine of its 10 meets this season and had placed all seven of its runners in the top 16 at the qualifying race. It was evident throughout the season that the goal was to get a team trophy and set program history.
“We worked hard all season with that goal in mind of getting a team trophy down at state, but having it in our hands is just an amazing feeling,” said Suzanne Putze. “It’s just like proof that we worked as hard as we needed, too.”
Suzanne Putze, with her older sister Michelle, who was in attendance, ran as a freshman the only other time WC/KP had qualified as a team in 2014. This time she got to enjoy her final state meet with her twin sisters Mary and Sarah.
“Watching the medals being put around my teammates neck up on the stage is just an amazing feeling and watching my twin sisters smiling with their medals is something that I’m going to miss,” she said.
Wright and Putze, the Western Valley Conference champ, were two of just five medalists for Journal circulation area athletes in the four girls races.
Okoboji sophomore Magan Christopherson, the Siouxland Conference champ, was 12th in the 2A girls race while two more individual league champs in Denison-Schleswig junior Raegan Andersen and Bishop Heelan sophomore Amber Aesoph, earned a medal for the second straight year.
Andersen, the Hawkeye 10 Conference champ, was 12th and Aesoph, the Missouri River Conference champ, was 15th in the 3A race.