Your Prep Sports
The 2021 state cross country meet will get underway on Friday at Lakeside Golf Course in Fort Dodge.
For the second consecutive year the meet will be split into two days with Classes 4A and 3A starting the action on Friday and Classes 1A and 2A concluding the meet on Saturday.
After the big school get things started on Friday attention turns to the two smaller classes on Saturday.
The 2A races are set for Saturday morning with the 1A races in the afternoon.
Before the excitement of race day arrives on Friday we take a closer look at the state meet fields and the Your Prep Sports area teams and individuals that will be competing in Fort Dodge.
Where: Lakeside Golf Course in Fort Dodge
When: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
Qualifying teams: *Hudson; North Tama; *South Winneshiek; Wapsie Valley; *Sumner-Fredericksburg; Mason City Newman; *Logan-Magnolia; ACGC; *Earlham; Pekin; *Regina; North Linn; *Fort Dodge St. Edmond; Woodbine; *Council Bluffs St. Albert; Central Decatur.
Individual district champions: Noelle Steines, Fr., Calamus-Wheatland; Jalyssa Blazek, Sr., Turkey Valley; Hillary Trainor, Soph., Sumner-Fredericksburg; Courtney Sporrer, Sr., Logan-Magnolia; Olivia Spurling, Soph., Earlham; Meghan Wheatley, Soph., North Linn; Nora Peterson, Fr., Alta-Aurelia; Reese Duncan, Jr., Council Bluffs St. Albert
2020 team top five: 1. Hudson 128; 2. South Winneshiek 130; 3. Regina 161; 4. Pekin 161; 5. ACGC 163
Last five team champions: 2020 – Hudson; 2019 – Logan-Magnolia; 2018 – Logan-Magnolia; 2017 – Hudson; 2016 – Central Elkader
Returning state placewinners: 1. Haley Meyer, Sr., Kee; 2. Billie Wagner, Jr., South Winneshiek; 3. Jalyssa Blazek, Sr., Turkey Valley; 6. Courtney Sporrer, Sr., Logan-Magnolia; 7. Addison Grady, Sr., Hudson; 10. Rylee Dunkin, Jr., Twin Cedars; 11. Greenlee Smock, Jr., Lynnville-Sully; 12. Grace Lidgett, Jr., North Tama; 13. Preslie Oswald, Jr., Manson Northwest Webster; 15. Elie Tuhn, Sr., Baxter
Top ranked teams: 1. Logan-Magnolia; 2. South Winneshiek; 3. Sumner-Fredericksburg; 4. Fort Dodge St. Edmond; 5. Hudson
Ranked area teams: No. 7 Regina
Top ranked individuals: No. 1 Noelle Steines, Fr., Calamus-Wheatland; 2. Jalyssa Blazek, Sr., Turkey Valley; 3. Haley Meyer, Sr., Kee; 4. Billie Wagner, Jr., South Winneshiek; 5. Courtney Sporrer, Sr., Logan-Magnolia
Ranked area individuals: 24. Mya Whitaker, Jr., Regina
Team championship chase: It’s all the familiar faces in the battle for the top spot in Class 1A.
Hudson and Logan-Magnolia have split the last four 1A titles with Hudson winning in 2020 and 2017 and Logan-Magnolia securing back-to-back title in between.
Both will be back in contention on Saturday along with perennial contenders South Winneshiek Regina and few new teams.
Even when they aren’t winning titles Hudson and Logan-Magnolia never seem to stray too far from the top.
Hudson was runner-up in 2019 and third in 2018 and Logan-Magnolia was fourth in 2017.
Same with Regina which is seeking a fourth consecutive top-four finish after placing runner-up in 2018 and third a year ago.
South Winneshiek has a star in junior Billie Wagner who was runner-up last season and Sumner-Fredericksburg and Fort Dodge St. Edmond will look to push for spots on the Lakeside Golf Course balcony.
Individual title tracker: The final race of the day has the potential to be the best with the top three finishers from last year all returning.
Defending state champion Haley Meyer of Kee is back and seeking a third consecutive top-two finish.
Last year’s runner-up South Winneshiek junior Billie Wagner already has two top-five finishes and Turkey Valley senior Jalyssa Blazek was third last year for the second straight season and has finish in the top six three consecutive seasons.
Even with all that hardware and state meet experience in the race the favorite may just be a freshman.
Calamus-Wheatland freshman Noelle Steines has turned heads and broken tapes in her debut season quickly ascending to the top of the 1A rankings and is a legit title contender in her first trip to the state meet.
Area breakdown: Over the past several season Regina has made a habit of weathering a challenging regular season schedule and peaking at the right time and the Regals appear poised to follow that same formula to another top-five finish.
Regina won the Class 1A state qualifier last week and enters the state meet ranked seventh.
The Regals finished third at the state meet a year ago and four of the top five runners from a year ago return.
Junior Mya Whitaker leads the way and should push for an individual medal and a top-15 finish on Saturday while seniors Natalie Franklin, Allison Hein and Josie Pursley all return with state meet experience.
Where: Lakeside Golf Course in Fort Dodge
When: Saturday, 3:15 p.m.
Qualifying teams: *Valley Lutheran; Cascade; *Maquoketa Valley; Bellevue; *Central Springs; Mason City Newman; *ACGC; Ogden; *Earlham; Pella Christian; *Regina; Columbus; *Fort Dodge St. Edmond; Woodbine; *Central Decatur; Council Bluffs St. Albert
Individual district champions: Isaac Natvig, Sr., Valley Lutheran; Payton Griebel, Soph., Bellevue; Riley Witt, Sr., Saint Ansgar; Trevin Suhr, Sr., ACGC; Jayden Dickson, Sr., Earlham; Aiden O’Neil, Soph., Regina; Aaron Lursen, Jr., Fort Dodge St. Edmond; Colin Lillie, Jr., Council Bluffs St. Albert
2020 team top five: 1. Madrid 58; 2. Earlham 70; 3. South Winneshiek 140; 4. ACGC 156; 5. Bellevue 172
Last five team champions: 2020 – Madrid; 2019 – Madrid; 2018 – Madrid; 2017 – Nodaway Valley; 2016 – Nodaway Valley
Returning state placewinners: 5. Jayden Dickson, Sr., Earlham; 13. Isaac Natvig, Sr., Valley Lutheran; 14. Bryce McDonough, Sr., Central Springs; 15. Dominic Braet, Sr., Earlham
Top ranked teams: 1. ACGC; 2. Maquoketa Valley; 3. Earlham; 4. Central Decatur; 5. Bellevue
Ranked area teams: No. 12 Regina
Top ranked individuals: No. 1 Riley Witt, Sr., Saint Ansgar; 2. Jayden Dickson, Sr., Earlham; 3. Tevin Suhr, Sr., ACGC; 4. Isaac Natvig, Sr., Valley Lutheran; 5. Bryce McDonough, Sr., Central Springs
Ranked area individuals: No. 13 Aidan O’Neil, Soph., Regina
Team championship chase: For the first time in three years there will be a new champion in Class 1A after three-time champion Madrid failed to qualify.
With the Tigers out of the title picture who takes over the top spot?
A couple of top-five finishers from a season ago seem poised to make the move into the top spot with ACGC and Earlham both capable.
Top-ranked ACGC was fourth a year ago while Earlham was runner-up last season after a fourth-place finish in 2019.
Don’t count out second-ranked Maquoketa Valley who has a pair of runners ranked in the top 20 or Bellevue who was fifth a year ago.
Individual title tracker: 11 of the top 12 finishers from season including the entire top five was made up of seniors making the Class 1A race the most wide open of the entire state meet.
Only four medalists from a year ago return this season and three should be in the thick of the title hunt along with a couple of seniors that have made big jumps after finishing outside the top 20 last season.
Saint Ansgar senior Riley Witt was 23rd last season but enters as the top-ranked runner in 1A while ACGC senior Trevin Suhr was 21st a year ago and enters ranked third.
Those two should battle with a trio of returning state medalist for the top spot.
Earlham senior Jayden Dickson was fifth a year ago while Valley Lutheran senior Isaac Natvig was 12th and Central Springs senior Bryce McDonough was 14th last year.
Area breakdown: Regina stopped a five-year run without a state tournament appearance securing its first trip to state since 2015 with a title at the state qualifying meet.
For a program that has reached the state meet 22 times and won eight state titles going five years with an appearance at state was a lengthy drought.
Regina has the ability to make an impact in its return to Fort Dodge.
The Regals are ranked 12th after running a tough regular season schedule but showed what it could do with its title at the state qualifier.
Regina has a legit front of the pack runner in sophomore Aiden O’Neil who should compete for a state medal in his state meet debut.