Your Prep Sports
The 2020 edition of the state cross country meet was split into two days with action at Lakeside Golf Course in Fort Dodge getting underway on Friday.
Class 4A will compete on Friday morning with 3A races set for Friday afternoon.
The meet concludes on Saturday with Class 2A races in the morning and 1A following in the afternoon.
Before race day arrives we take a closer look at the state meet fields and the area participants that are headed to Fort Dodge.
Class 3A Boys
Where: Lakeside Golf Course in Fort Dodge
When: Friday, 4 p.m.
Team Qualifiers: *Solon; West Delaware; Dubuque Wahlert; *Pella; Carlisle; Mount Vernon-Lisbon; *North Polk; LeMars; MOC-Floyd Valley; *Center Point-Urbana; Marion; Decorah; *Dallas Center-Grimes; ADM; Glenwood
Individual district champions: Brandon Barker, Sr., Clear Creek Amana; Tony Schmitz, Sr., Pella; Quinton Orr, Sr., Humboldt; Eli Larson, Jr., Center Point-Urbana; Nate Mueller, Sr., ADM
2019 Team Top Five: 1. Dallas Center-Grimes 109; 2. Clear Creek Amana 110; 3. Center Point-Urbana 127; 4. Dubuque Wahlert 156; 5. Marion 174
Last 5 team champions: 2019 – Dallas Center-Grimes; 2018 – Gilbert; 2017 – Gilbert; 2016 – Mount Vernon-Lisbon; 2015 – Mount Vernon-Lisbon
Returning state placers: 1. Nate Mueller, Sr., ADM; 2. Quinton Orr, Sr., Humboldt; 3. Eli Larson, Jr., Center Point-Urbana; 4. Brady Hogan, Sr., Decorah; 5. Aidan Ramsey, Jr., Dallas Center-Grimes; 6. Josiah Wittenberg, Jr., Pella; 7. Trey Gross, Sr., Harlan; 9. Luke Post, Sr., Center Point-Urbana; 10. Jacob Storey, Jr., Dallas Center-Grimes; 12. Zach Sporaa, Soph., North Polk; 13. Brandon Barker, Sr., Clear Creek Amana;
Area individual qualifiers: Brandon Barker, Sr., Clear Creek Amana; Gavin Zillyette, Jr., Clear Creek Amana
Top ranked teams: 1. Dallas Center-Grimes; 2. Pella; 3. Solon; 4. Marion; 5. Center Point-Urbana
Ranked area teams: No. 3 Solon
Top ranked individuals: 1. Quinton Orr, Sr., Humboldt; 2. Nate Mueller, Sr., ADM; 3. Aidan Ramsey, Jr., Dallas Center-Grimes; 4. Eli Larson, Jr., Center Point-Urbana; 5. Shane Erb, Jr., Marion.
Ranked area individuals: 13. Brandon Barker, Sr., Clear Creek Amana; 19. Gavin Zillyette, Jr., Clear Creek Amana; 24. Gabe Hinman, Jr., Solon.
Team Championship Chase: Over the past several seasons Class 3A titles have seemed to come in pairs. Mount Vernon-Lisbon started the trend with back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2016 and Gilbert followed by winning the next two 3A crowns in 2017 and 2018.
Defending champion Dallas Center-Grimes is seeking to become the third consecutive team to successfully defend its 3A title and has the talent to pull it off.
The top-ranked Mustangs edged Clear Creek Amana by a single point to win the title last season and return four of their top five runners from that squad this season led by third-ranked junior Aidan Ramsey.
The list of challengers chasing the Mustangs includes second-ranked Pella and the WAMAC trio of Solon, Marion and Center Point-Urbana.
Solon doesn’t have a runner ranked in the top 20 but has used its trademark depth to consistently finish in front of recent 3A contenders Marion and Center Point-Urbana tis season.
A strong race from the Spartans on Friday could have Solon in position for just the second top-three finish in program history and first ever in Class 3A.
Individual Title Tracker: With the top seven placers and eight of the top 10 finishers from last year’s state meet all back for another shot at state gold the 3A boys race should be among the most tightly contested in all four classes this week.
ADM’s Nate Mueller and Humboldt senior Quinton Orr are both four-time qualifiers and two-time top three finishers that appear poised for one final state meet showdown on Friday.
Mueller is the defending 3A champion after finishing more than six seconds in front of Orr for the title last season following a third-place finish as a sophomore.
Orr has been runner-up twice, first to Cody Mertens of Mount Pleasant in 2018 and then Mueller last season.
Those are the top two ranked runners entering the state meet followed by Dallas Center-Grimes junior Aidan Ramsey and last year’s third-place finisher Eli Larson of Center Point-Urbana.
Luke Post of Center Point-Urbana is a two-time top-10 finisher that placed fourth as a sophomore and ninth a year ago.
Area Breakdown: Solon returned to the state meet for the first time since 2010 and is making its first ever appearance in Class 3A after an impressive regular season that featured WAMAC Conference and state qualifying meet titles.
The Spartans have consistently shown the ability to compete with the some of the top teams in the 3A field finishing one point behind second-ranked Pella at the Williamsburg Invite and winning the WAMAC Conference title over Marion and Center Point-Urbana.
Now the young Spartans must do it on the biggest stage.
Junior Gabe Hinman is a two-time individual qualifier that has placed 46th and 35th the past two seasons and will look to contend for a top-15 finish this season.
Seniors Tyler Bilskie and Ben DeValk have made huge strides this season and will be key in the Spartans quest for top-three finish.
Clear Creek Amana had a pair of state medalists for the first time ever last season and will try to match that this season with individual qualifiers Brandon Barker and Gavin Zillyette capable of cracking the top 15.
Barker was 13th at the state meet last season and won the state qualifier in impressive fashion last week.
Zillyette jumped from 76th as a freshman to 34th at state a year ago and will look to continue that climb on Friday.
Class 3A Girls
Where: Lakeside Golf Course in Fort Dodge
When: Friday, 3:30 p.m.
Team Qualifiers: *Dubuque Wahlert; Davenport Assumption; Solon; *Ballard; Pella; Carlisle; *Sioux City Heelan; Harlan; Spencer; *Decorah; Waverly-Shell Rock; Center Point-Urbana’ *Dallas Center-Grimes; Glenwood; Winterset
Individual district champions: Gabby Moran, Sr., Dubuque Wahlert; Paityn Noe, Soph., Ballard; Emily Haverdink, Jr., MOC-Floyd Valley; Kiki Connell, Sr., Charles City; Geneva Timmerman, Soph., ADM
2019 Team Top Five: 1. Ballard 57; 2. Dallas Center-Grimes 80; 3. Dubuque Wahlert 125; 4. Harlan 168; 5. Sioux City Heelan 193
Last 5 team champions: 2019 – Ballard; 2018 – Dubuque Wahlert; 2017 – Dubuque Wahlert; 2016 – Decorah; 2015 – Davenport Assumption
Returning state placers: 2. Shewaye Johnson, Soph., Ballard; 3. Paityn Noe, Soph., Ballard; 4. Megan Sterbenz, Sr., Dallas Center-Grimes; 5. Norah Pearson, Soph., Knoxville; 8. Kiki Connell, Sr., Charles City; 9. Emma Hoins, Sr., Waverly-Shell Rock; 10. Ellie Meyer, Sr., Iowa Falls; 12. Alix Oliver, Sr., Dubuque Wahlert; 14. Braelyn Baker, Sr., Creston; 15. Kay Fett, Jr., Center Point-Urbana
Area individual qualifiers: Haidyn Barker, Soph., Clear Creek Amana
Top ranked teams: 1. Ballard; 2. Dubuque Wahlert; 3. Dallas Center-Grimes; 4. Davenport Assumption; 5. Sioux City Heelan
Ranked area teams: No. 7 Solon
Top ranked individuals: 1. Paityn Noe, Soph., Ballard; 2. Shewaye Johnson, Soph., Ballard; 3. Kiki Connell, Sr., Charles City; 4. Ainsley Erzen, Jr., Carlisle; 5. Rebecca Anderson, Soph., Decorah
Ranked area individuals: No. 15 Haidyn Barker, Soph., Clear Creek Amana
Team Championship Chase: In a team race that figures to feature several of the traditional 3A heavyweights everyone appears to be chasing Ballard.
The top-ranked Bombers boast the top two ranked individuals and last year’s runner-up and third-place runners in standout sophomores Shewaye Johnson and Paityn Noe.
If Ballard is to become the third team to win back-to-back 3A titles since the state went to four classes in 2003 the Bombers will likely have to hold off the last team to accomplish that feat – Dubuque Wahlert.
Second-ranked Wahlert won 3A titles in 2017 and 2018 and notched its fifth consecutive top-five finish by placing third last year.
The Golden Eagles join two-time defending 3A runner-up Dallas Center-Grimes, Davenport Assumption and Solon as teams capable of pushing for a top-three finish and a spot on the balcony on Friday afternoon.
Individual Title Tracker: The spot atop the 3A podium opened up with the graduation of Center Point-Urbana star Adrianna Katcher who claimed the third 3A title of her career last fall.
There is a long list of contenders ready to replace Katcher at the front of the 3A pack led by the top four runners to finish behind the three-time state champ at the state meet last season.
Noe and Johnson of Ballard headline the list of title contenders and enter the state meet ranked first and second.
Charles City senior Kiki Connell was eighth a year ago and is ranked third while Carlisle junior Ashley Erzen who placed fourth as a freshman in 2018 is fourth.
Don’t forget about Dubuque Wahlert senior Gabby Moran, who placed third at state as a freshman and sophomore and was impressive in winning an individual title at the state qualifying meet.
In all 10 medalists from last year’s state meet return including seven of the top 10 finishers.
Area Breakdown: Solon returns to the state meet for the third consecutive season and fourth time in the past five years with its sights set on its best finish in nearly a decade.
The Spartans were seventh last season, their best finish in any of their last three appearances and the top four finishers from that team all return to the state meet with experience.
Senior Kiersten Conway is a four-time qualifier, placing 22nd as an individual qualifier as a freshman before helping the Spartans to team trips each of the past two seasons.
Junior Emma Bock was the top runner for Solon at state last season placing 37th overall.
Solon enters ranked seventh after placing third behind second-ranked Dubuque Wahlert and fourth-ranked Davenport Assumption at the state qualifier.
For Solon to post its first top-five finish since 2012 and push for a spot on the balcony the Spartans will need to use the balance that has made it successful all season.
That will require strong races from experienced state runners Meghan O’Neill and Mary Fiala as well as a trio of talented freshman.
Clear Creek Amana sophomore Haidyn Barker appears poised to push for a state medal in her second trip to the state meet.
Barker was 63rd at state last season as a freshman but enters this season ranked 15th after back-to-back runner-up finishes at the WAMAC Conference meet and 3A state qualifier.