Denver cross country team starts the season
The Denver cross country team got their season off to a great start Thursday, August 29 at the Charles City Early Bird Cross Country Invitational. Seven teams competed in the invite with only one combined girls’ race and one combined boys’ race.

“No team scores were kept,” noted head coach Sandy Sabelka, “but we added the points and were very pleased with the results. Our girls would have taken the title and our boys 2nd. Team points aside, it always makes you so proud as a coach when your athletes can jump into their first competition with the performances that these kids put in.”

Twenty-one of Denver’s runners managed to better their times from the Denver 5K they competed in just 10 days prior.

The Cyclone ladies grabbed three of the top five medals with Grace Beck, Chloe Ristau and Amber Homan placing 3rd, 4th and 5th in 20:30, 20:52 and 21:00. Laci Even ran her first high school meet (along with Homan) to fill Denver’s 4th position placing 11th in 23:03. Emily Herbst crossed in 20th in 24:01. Not too far behind Herbst, Lexi Lyons and Leah Ristau took 26th and 27th in 24:24 and 24:27. Mackenzie Milder placed 38th in 25:38. Freshman Kira Cortelyou had a solid start to her high school cross country career to take 55th in 27:14. Crossing in 66th and 68th were Hayden Arians and Bailey Dunkin, 28:25 and 28:28. Hannah Even was 78th in 30:07 and Jess Moore 83rd in 31:17.

“I’ve got to give big kudos to our freshmen,” added Sabelka. “They ran some gutsy performances and filled in some pretty key spots right off the bat, still while figuring out how to pace themselves in a three-mile race. That shows the mental toughness that is as huge in cross country as the physical, and I’m excited about their potential.”

Denver men impressively placed their top five runners in the top 12, but it wasn’t quite enough to top Waverly-Shell Rock’s top five in the top 10 spots. New to the team but a seasoned veteran to cross country, Dike-New Hartford transfer Conlee Lyons took a top spot and top-five medal for the Cyclone boys’ team placing 3rd in 18:09. Alex Krabbenhoft made a strong move in the third mile to take 2nd for the Cyclones with 7th overall in 18:50, and within 14 seconds came the next three - Kyler Matthias, Alex Larson and Josh Terrill, crossing in 9th, 11th and 12th (18:57, 19:02 and 19:04).

“Waverly is a tough 3A team, and for us to come out on meet one and match them pretty closely head-to-head, that’s a lot to be excited about with this group of boys,” praised Sabelka. “And that’s not just noting the potential of these five guys, we have so much talent in what comes after our top five spots as well.”

Sabelka was referring to the finishes of her next eight runners, all with varsity potential. Freshman Jack Mulert came in as the sixth runner to place 21st (19:26) with Layne Fober and Isaac Schimmels steps behind in 22nd and 23rd (19:29 and 19:33). Senior newcomer to the program, Chase Lyons took a minute and a half off his 5K best to place 25th in 19:46. Garrett Even and Luke Bloker crossed in 28th and 31st (19:56 and 20:07), while Hunter Shollenbarger and Aiden Dolan grabbed the 34th and 35th spots (20:19 and 20:21).

Continuing the outstanding team efforts, Jacob Lyons, Cooper South and Matt Rabenhorst placed 49th (21:56), 50th (22:00) and 52nd (22:08). Cole Miller and Jacob Steege took 61st and 63rd (22:36 and 22:59). Gianni Gleason was 68th (23:22), Max Schwandt 73rd (23:32), Conner Vauthier 76th (23:45), Nate Rabenhorst 77th (23:56) and Tommy Mulert 79th (24:08). Henry Wiebbecke placed 88th (23:40), Jeremiah Giesler 96th (26:12) and Ashton Gonnerman 105th (28:59).

Denver competed in the Oelwein Invitational on September 3 and the Dick Polllitt Go-Hawk Invite on September 10. Mark your calendars for Monday, September 23 for the Cyclones’ 2nd annual home invitational, to be held at Willow Run Country Club. The middle school is scheduled to start at 4 PM with high school competition starting at 4:40 PM.
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