Denver boys take sixth, girls seventh at State
Editor’s Note: The cross country at state story in last week’s Forum was incorrect. The following is the actual depiction of the teams’ 2019 return to the state tournament.

The cross country season came to an end for the Denver Cyclones Saturday, November 2 as they showcased their talents amongst the best runners in the state at the Iowa High School Cross Country Championship in Fort Dodge.

It was both a day of celebrations and heartbreaks for the Cyclones. Denver’s girls took to the course at 2:00 pm in the chilly and gusty 40 degree weather. They came in ranked 6th, having previously been as high as 2nd, and had their hopes set on walking out on the clubhouse deck to accept a top-3 trophy for the first time since 2007. Unfortunately, their hopes were cut short and they settled with 7th place in the 15-team field.

Grace Beck ended her high school cross country career on the Lakeside Golf Course just the way she should have, with her best performance on the course ever. Placing 10th a year ago and 18th as a freshman, she valiantly made another appearance on the championship deck with a 6th place finish in 19:39, thirty-three seconds better than last year.

“There was just something about Grace’s demeanor the entire week leading up to state that made her performance no surprise,” praised Coach Sandy Sabelka. “Her legs were a bit tight and heavy quite a bit of the week, and she choose to back herself down in her workouts as the best choice to work that out. Experiencing that would make the average runner have doubts and anxiety about their upcoming performance, but not Grace. She remained relaxed, upbeat and confident that she was ready and continued to do so right up until the gun. What a way for her to end a stellar career. I couldn’t be more proud of not only her performance, but her leadership throughout this season.” Beck will continue her running at the University of Sioux Falls next fall.

Coming in second for the Cyclones, Chloe Ristau took seventeen seconds off her time from a year ago and placed 25th in 20:20. Laci Even, running in her first state meet as a freshman, placed 71st in 21:27. Emily Herbst ran her personal best time for the year to place 85th in 21:51. Seniors Lexi Lyons and Leah Ristau also ended their careers with incredible performances. Lyons had a career best time of 22:43 to place 109th and Ristau a season best 22:51 placing 112th.

“Although the goal is always to come to Fort Dodge and run your personal best, it is not an easy race or an easy course to do so,” noted Sabelka. “These three senior girls went out in style. We are not only going to miss their talent, but their leadership and dedication, as well.”
The heartbreak came when Amber Homan, trailing on Beck’s heels, passed out and was unable to finish the 3.1 mile course. “This is the second time in as many meets this has happened to Amber, and I know she takes the blame for the girls not placing higher,” said Sabelka. “But no team win or team loss is because of one runner. We are a house of many rafters, and it’s each and every rafter that holds our house together and showcases it the way it was meant to be. 7th place in the state is nothing for us to hang our heads about, and Amber is going to rise out of this stronger than ever.”

Logan-Magnolia won the 1A girls race with 112, with Hudson 2nd with 133 and AHSTW, Avoca 3rd with 142. Denver had 183 for 7th. Peyton Pogge of Tri-Center was the individual winner in 18:45.

The Denver boys wanted nothing more than to redeem themselves from a 14th place team finish last year, and they had reason to celebrate their performance this year. They came in rated 9th and managed to pull off an outstanding 6th place overall finish, just two points away from 5th.

Qualifying individually as well as leading his team at districts a week prior, Alex Larson once again led his teammates with a 52nd place finish in 17:45, just eight seconds off a career best time. In his first trip ever to the Lakeside course, freshman Jack Mulert was steps behind in 56th and 17:48. Alex Krabbenhoft missed his career PR by six seconds taking 65th in 17:56, and Josh Terrill a second later in 17:57 for 67th. New to the Cyclone squad this season and in his first state meet appearance, senior Conlee Lyons placed 80th in 18:06. Kyler Matthias and Layne Fober crossed in 108th and 117th in 18:39 and 19:00.

Madrid took the state 1A title with 74 points. Nodaway Valley was 2nd and Calamus-Wheatland 3rd with 107 and 118. Nodaway Valley’s Joshua Baulder took gold in 16:11.
Lyons is the only senior from the state team (along with alternate runner Luke Bloker) with the remaining returning next season. “I know Conlee wanted a top-25 finish and, had he been healthy, I have no doubts that would have happened, but he battled a recent knee injury over the past week and we couldn’t be more proud of him for fighting through it and managing to finish in our top five. That takes guts, grit and dedication to your team. Both he, Bloker and the other five seniors we are losing will sure be missed.”

Sabelka applauded the efforts of her boys’ team. “Our top 5 scorers had a 22-second point spread, and that says a lot about their powerful pack running and the reason they finished so well. Their approach and attitudes this past week and, even more importantly, their chemistry and crazy interaction with each other undeniably makes them one of the most special group of boys I have ever coached. They are definitely more like close brothers, rather than just teammates, and they put the hard work and effort in each and every day while managing to keep things fun and unpredictable.

The coaches and the team would like to thank all who traveled to Fort Dodge and weathered the cold to support them. Mark your calendars for October 31, 2020 because they are more determined than ever to be back at Lakeside next year to represent Denver once again.
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