Short course but great performances for the Cyclones
It turned out to be a beautiful night to run for those attending the Spartan Invite in Grundy Center last Thursday, perfect conditions for some personal best performances at this time in the season. Well, those personal bests sure inundated the Denver cross country team as every single athlete achieved their personal best for the season, many a career best. Unfortunately, it was determined that the course wasn’t a true 5K distance, so their times didn’t go down in the record books. But the coaches knew that overall performances were indicative of many personal bests, even without depending on the watch.

“Just watching them compete and the efforts our runners as a whole were putting in throughout their races,” praised Coach Sandy Sabelka, “there was no doubt we were going to be looking at quite a few personal bests for the season. But seeing many corners along the course that weren’t flagged/monitored well and lots of opportunities to cut the route short (by all teams), we knew times were going to be fast, but they were a bit too fast overall to be realistic. The kids knew it and the coaches knew it. We’ll mark it off as a great meet for us - we placed well and competed well - but we aren’t going to measure that by our times.”

Grundy Center chose to run their meet a little different than typical meets at this point in the season - they ran only one high school girls’ race and one high school boys’ race. The top seven from each school were recorded as varsity and the rest as JV.

Ranked second individually in 1A, Aplington-Parkersburg’s Sophia Jungling led from the gun to win in 18:44 in the girls’ race. Denver proudly secured the next three positions with Grace Beck at the helm in 2nd (19:15) and Chloe Ristau and Amber Homan closely behind in 3rd and 4th (19:35 and 19:41). Laci Even had what her coaches thought was her best performance of the season to take 10th in 21:17, as did Lexi Lyons to place 22nd in 22:41. With the absence of Emily Herbst and Leah Ristau, Mackenzie Milder and Kira Courtelyou moved into the varsity seven to place 44th (24:!8) and 50th (24:32). Had the two been running in their usual JV positions, Milder would have won the JV race with Courtelyou 3rd.

The hard part of running a meet like that for the JV runners is that they have no idea where they are place-wise in the JV competition. When awards were presented at the end of the meet, Denver’s Hayden Arians and Bailey Dunkin took the silver and bronze spots placing 2nd and 3rd in the JV girls’ race in 24:38 and 24:39. Hannah Even crossed in 20th (26:34) and Jess Moore 33rd (29:16).

The varsity girls snatched the team championship for the meet, topping Aplington-Parkersburg by seven, 40-47.

South Hardin’s Kolby Winter and Union’s Lake LeBahn (rated 5th and 6th in 2A) battled stride-for-stride over the entire 5K course. Finishing in identical times of 16:10, it was Winter with the lean at the tape to be handed the win. Continuing to come on strong in the second half of the season, Denver’s Conlee Lyons grabbed the 3rd spot with 16:59.

All seven varsity boys medaled for the evening. Following Lyons was the trio of Alex Larson, Jack Mulert and Josh Terrill crossing in 13th, 14th and 15th (17:25, 17:25 and 17:29). Alex Krabbenhoft came next in 20th (17:42), and Isaac Schimmels and Kyler Matthias 23rd and 24th (17:45 and 17:52). South Hardin, putting their top five scorers in the top 16, was too tough to match as they won the varsity division with 42. Denver was 2nd with 65.

Denver boys dominated in the JV division, taking seven of the top 10 medals. With a perfect score of 15 points, Layne Fober took gold honors in 18:00, Luke Bloker silver (18:07), Chase Lyons bronze (18:27), and taking 4th and 5th - Aiden Dolan and Hunter Shollenbarger crossed in 18:42 and 18:46. The final two medals went to Garrett Even 8th (18:57) and Luke Prendergast 10th (19:04).

“Only about two minutes separated our top varsity runner and our 14th runner (Prendergast),” said Sabelka. “That says a lot for the depth and talent on this team, especially for a 1A school. That’s what makes us continue to improve - so many vying for varsity, pushing each other to bring out their best every single time.”

Another pack of Cyclones came across for the JV a short time later, led by Jacob Lyons 19th in 19:58, ten seconds shy of a medal. He was followed by Ben Kasemeier 23rd (20:01), Jacob Steege 26th (20:11), Cooper South 27th (20:19) and Quinlan Manross 28th (20:22). Forty seconds later came another swarm - Conner Vauthier was 38th (20:49), Matt Rabenhorst 41st (21:03), Max Schwandt 43rd (21:12), Cole Miller 46th (21:19), Tommy Mulert 48th (21:28) and Gianni Gleason 49th (21:31). Nate Rabenhorst took 64th for the Cyclones in 22:21. Henry Wiebbecke was 72nd and McCale Kolsrud 75th (23:12 and 23:27), and Jeremiah Giesler and Ashton Gonnerman were 85th and 91st (24:28 and 26:01).

The Cyclones also competed at Jesup last Thursday, Dike-New Hartford on October 8 and travel to New Hampton October 10, a pretty rigorous running schedule. They then have a week to reload before ending the regular season at Jesup again next Thursday, Oct. 17 for the NICL Conference meet.
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