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DES MOINES, Iowa -- About three weeks ago, George-Little Rock High School boys track coach Curt Fiedler told his team the reality of winning a team state championship.

There wasn’t much belief from his runners, but Fiedler certainly saw the potential.

The G-LR boys track team won the Class 1A team title with 52 team points ahead of Council Bluffs St. Albert (42) and Calamus-Wheatland (41). It’s the first track team title in school history.

As the championship teams were filing into Drake Fieldhouse after the rain came on Saturday, there was something noticeable about the G-LR team. It only had five kids.

“I asked the kids earlier, ‘Did you think this was going to happen?’" Fiedler said. “Some of them said, ‘Well…’ After Day 1, I think they were a little down, but after Day 2, they knew it could happen.

“They performed the way they needed to,” Fiedler added.

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2019 Iowa State Track Saturday
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2019 Iowa State Track Saturday
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2019 Iowa State Track Saturday
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2019 Iowa State Track Saturday
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2019 Iowa State Track Saturday

Joe Anderson may not have gotten the medal he wanted earlier in the week, but on Saturday, he got to drape a state championship banner around his back.

Anderson provided 26 of those points, but most importantly, he ended his career with something he thought he had on Thursday.

In the 3,200-meter run, Gehlen Catholic’s Will Roder was declared the champion despite the race lasting just seven laps. There was a miscount in laps by the officials and the head officials declared Roder the state champion because nine of the 10 runners stopping after the seventh lap.

After Anderson posted a classy note on Twitter reflecting on what had happened, he shifted his focus to the 1,600.

“I believe God rewards good character, and I believe I handled the situation pretty well,” Anderson said. “My legs felt recovered, they felt great.”

This was his last race, and he had wanted an individual state championship ever since his first day of his freshman year.

He did so, as he crossed the finish line first in 4 minutes, 34 seconds.

“It all just came together today, and I’m glad to be a Mustang,” Anderson said. “A half hour before the race, there were multiple times where I almost broke down and cried. I just love this sport. I don’t want to see it end.”

Anderson didn’t lead the race to start out with, but at the halfway point, there were two familiar faces at the front of the pack. For the second time this weekend, Anderson and Roder were leading.

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Anderson started to make his kick with about 600 meters left. He wanted everyone to follow him, and not be in second, third or so on.

The Mustangs senior made his move, and he created enough distance.

Anderson took a peek behind his shoulder as he approached his final 50 meters, and admits it’s a bad habit. But, he wanted to make sure that he wasn’t going to lose another distance race.

“I just felt all the pressure, all the sadness being my last race go out through my feet, and I’ve been thinking about that moment for a long time,” Anderson said.

Roder tried to make a last-second push, but he couldn’t. He was limping off the track after a third-place finish in 4:37.82. Brady Millikin of Pekin was the runner-up (4:35.71).

Anderson said he and Roder said a prayer before the race, and talked about Thursday.

The Mustangs are still unhappy about the 3,200 decision from Thursday.

“They (the IHSAA) gave themselves a black eye, and they won’t be able to live that down,” Fiedler said. “The state is talking to us how they’re going to distribute the medals. This didn’t just stay in Des Moines. This went broader than that. They have to answer to those questions. We’re just glad it didn’t come down to two points.

“I know our kids could count to eight, it’s just that somebody else couldn’t count to eight, and that’s the way it goes,” Fiedler added.

The Mustangs got 18 of their points Saturday in the 800-meter run. Payton Mauldin led the way in the race, as he finished in 1:58 while Anderson finished a second later.

Mauldin could barely catch his breath after the race, but was “speechless” of being an individual state champion.

“This is what we came down to do,” Mauldin said. “I knew that if I could be on top going into the last lap, I would bet on myself against anyone in 1A.”

Mauldin and Anderson live five houses from each other. They work out on a regular basis, including the summertime.

They run side-by-side. On Saturday, they didn’t run right beside one another, but first and second place will suffice.

“It’s a dream come true to finish 1, 2 on the blue oval,” Anderson said. “It’s a reality now. It feels a lot better to finish second to someone like this.”

The Mustangs also picked up two points in the 4x800 on Thursday.

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