XC program earns two Conference titles, girls take home trophy
By Micah Knebel

For the first time in 14 years, the Denver girls’ cross country team ended their season with a state trophy in hand.

This year’s varsity team finished second at the state tournament and was preceded by an entire season ranked #2. The Cyclones proved they were a force to be reckoned with. They won all but one of their meets. That meet was at Wartburg and pitted them against several ranked teams, including 2A state champs Mid-Prairie as well as top 3A and 4A teams. They also faced competition from Minnesota and Wisconsin. The Denver girls came away with a 6th place finish out of 16 teams, something to be proud of. They also finished with 18 personal best times.

In addition to the stellar season, the team also marked their first individual girls’ conference champion since 2012. Freshman Reeve Ristau received the honor and also made All-State with her fifth-place finish at state. Ristau also closed out the season ranked #5 in 2A.

The varsity girls had three other athletes close out the season ranked in the top 30: junior Amber Homan at #15, senior Chloe Ristau at #18, and junior Laci Even at #22.
Chloe Ristau is the only senior this season, meaning the girls will bring back a lot of experience in 2022.

The boys, even after losing six of their seven varsity runners from the previous year, also pulled out a terrific season. They were named conference champs for the fifth year in a row and missed a spot at the state tournament by a mere three points. They did advance two athletes: sophomore Neal Pinter and junior Jack Mulert.

“It's never an easy feat to finish in the top 15 in a tough district to earn your ticket to compete amongst the state's best runners,” said head coach Sandy Sabelka. “They put in the work all season to rightfully achieve that honor and competed very well in Fort Dodge. They are both back next year, and I know will be focused on getting that opportunity once again.”

Coach Sabelka noted that the boys’ team ran very deep. “We had a number of kids who were capable of varsity,” she said, “which meant we had an incredibly strong JV team.” The boys’ team will welcome back all its varsity runners next year.

All-Conference 1st Team honors went to Reeve Ristau, Amber Homan, Chloe Ristau, and Hailey Homan.

All Conference 2nd Team went to Laci Even, Anna Mulert, Aubrey Decker, Jack Mulert, and Neal Pinter.

Max Schwandt was named All-Conference Honorable Mention.
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