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Denver Forum -
Denver impressive in tough Starmont field
You always know competition will be strong at any cross country meet that hosts 26 teams. That definitely was the case last Tuesday, September 13 at the Starmont Invitational, and maroon and gold jerseys were easily noticed in all six races as Denver brought home three first place team finishes, two seconds and a fourth.

The middle school girls were the first to race for the evening, and it was their first time this year on a 2-mile course. Adeline Decker and Holland Doepke led their teammates to a remarkable runner-up finish. Decker took 7th and Doepke 9th in 14:24 and 14:50. Emily Mulert shattered her personal best 2-mile by over a minute placing 34th in 15:59. Madelyn Hockenson and Jillian Doepke were 44th and 45th in 16:44 and 16:46, Ellery Stanley and Serephie Oesterle 66th and 67th in 17:43 and 17:50, and Samantha Thode was 104th in 20:19. West Delaware took the title with 83 points, while Denver finished with 115.

Denver’s middle school boys were unchallenged in the large field and brought home their 2nd team title in three meets. They placed six runners in the top 20 and finished with a low 34 points. Waukon was 2nd with 99.

Jesse Gomez earned his second consecutive individual title edging teammate Lincoln Roethler. They took 1st and 2nd in 12:07 and 12:08. Devin Homan crossed in 4th in 12:26. Ethan Pagel had an outstanding meet and moved up in Denver’s lineup to place 14th in 13:26, with Cy Walton and Maddox Valverde 17th and 20th in 13:33 and 13:43. Jack Cooper crossed the finish in 29th (14:04) and Izak Froyum Roise a short time later in 33rd (14:13). Henry Pautsch and Trey McIntosh were 52nd and 61st in 15:13 and 15:31. Zadyn Manchester and Emery Thomas were 106th and 119th in 18:20 and 20:02.

“Our middle school boys tackled this first jump to 2-miles so well and have just been relentless in their performances,” praised Coach Sandy Sabelka. “Jesse still seems to have even more in the tank and to watch Lincoln battle with him up front has been a great challenge for them both. I was super impressed with our 7th grade runners in their first attempt at 2-miles. Holland is a gritty fighter no matter what the distance, and Ethan, Cy and Maddox to place that high in this large meet was incredible. So much improvement in Emily as well to take over a minute off her time on a course that has been a challenge for PRs in the past.”

Sabelka was ecstatic over how well all six Denver teams represented themselves, but she chose the JV girls as the highlight performance. “I’m not sure if we ever won the JV girls’ division at this meet, and I know we have never done so by such a large margin.” Denver placed seven runners in the top 20 and ran away with the meet with 25 points over second place Sumner-Fredericksburg’s 62.

The Cyclones took three of the top five spots. Sophie Sanderson moved up as their number one runner to take 2nd in 23:22. Lily Cooper was steps behind for 3rd in 23:28, and Avery McIntosh was 5th in 23:54. All three had season best splits with Cooper running the best of her career. A solid pack of maroon crossed the finish shortly later, led by junior Ava Dunkin. She took 11th (24:24), Haley Lalk 13th (24:27), Maryn Laures 17th (25:27) and Paige Westbrook 18th (25:27), PRs for Laures and Westbrook. Macy Matthias ran her season best 27:19 for 50th, and Gretchen Oltrogge was 51st in 27:27. Lily Bergman was 108th (30:17) and Malea Gonnerman PR’d in 36:02 for 133rd.

A close second in most notable performances of the evening for the Cyclones was the JV boys, following with an equally impressive showing. Eleven of the Cyclones’ JV boys earned ribbons for placing in the top 25 in the field of 147 runners as they won 29-43 over runner-up Waukon. Denver’s Talan LaFrentz battled with leader Caleb Helgerson of Waukon for much of the race. It was Helgerson who pulled away in the final mile, but LaFrentz clocked a season best to take 2nd in 18:08. Teammate Jarett Clayton regained his varsity position, just one second off his season best, to place 3rd in 19:14. Ethan Larson followed in 5th and Carson Haase 7th in 19:29 and 19:50. Shortly after, a large sea of maroon and gold came through. Myles Matthias was 12th (20:05), Jason Waterman 13th (20:05-PR), Garrett Even 14th (20:08) Mitch Doepke 15th (20:09-PR) and Conner Clinton 17th (20:23-PR). Also securing ribbons, Christian Brown was 23rd (20:48) and Grant Pautsch 25th (20:55).

The Cyclones continued with Noah Brooks 30th in 21:22. Dagen Henzen then ran his career best performance of 21:44 to place 39th, followed by Jacob Steege 42nd in 22:00. The Rabenhorst tribe went through next with Josh at 52nd (22:27), Joe at 78th (23:24) and Nate 82nd (23:41). Josiah Swales just missed another PR for the year as he crossed in 23:59 for 86th. Xander Perterson was 105th in 24:55, and Nick Satterthwaite had his season best 38:54 for 146th.

“Our JV runners, girls and boys, did an absolutely phenomenal job as a whole and I couldn’t be more proud and excited for all of them,” remarked Sabelka. “Varsity teams typically get the most notoriety, but our JV deserves so much recognition for their efforts. Their degree of talent can sometimes go unnoticed to those outside the cross country world, but our JV houses an awful lot of talent, dedication and drive. Hats off to all of them.”

Beckman Catholic handed Denver’s varsity girls their first loss of the season as they won the large school championship 38-42 over the Cyclones. Sumner-Fredericksburg took third with 102.

“We had some great performances tonight and a few that we know we will see more from,” said Sabelka. “I always say you learn more from your losses than your successes, and this meet and its results will only make us stronger as a team. Beckman is a strong, solid team and they ran well. Hopefully, we’ll turn the table when we meet them again.”

Reeve Ristau ran her season best to move up a spot from last year’s performance. She took 3rd overall in 20:37. Avery Trunkhill continued to shave time off her best running 21:25 for 14th. Hailey Homan ran a PR 21:41 to place 18th. Amber Homan, Aubrey Decker and Anna Mulert went 24th, 25th & 26th in 22:06, 22:07 & 22:07, season bests for Mulert and Decker, and Laci Even took the last medal spot for 30th in 22:15.

Denver’s varsity boys set a goal to get after Center Point-Urbana, a team that had beat them by 11 recently at Oelwein. CPU, unfortunately, finished a place ahead of them again, but only after winning the tie-breaker with their 6th runner. Both teams scored 94 points. Oelwein won the meet with 40 and Waukon was 2nd with 56.

Jack Mulert broke into the top 10 to place 7th overall in his season best 17:24. Max Schwandt and Neal Pinter raced across the line in 15th and 16th and 17:47 and 17:54. Trevor Baas clocked his career best 5K split to medal with 29th in 18:22. Jayden Herrmann moved into Denver’s number five spot placing 49th in 19:07. Gabe Swales and Sean Gomez weren’t far behind in 19:19 and 19:20 for 53rd and 54th.

“To basically tie for 3rd at this meet is incredible in itself,” stated Sabelka, “and all three teams ahead of us are ranked pretty high. Our guys have definitely approached their competition as the training they need to get them back to the state meet this year, and they show it in their efforts and mental discipline every time they step on a course. We continue to try to close the gap between our 3rd and 4th runner in addition to moving up our 5th, 6th and 7th runners. That’s going to play a big role in the success this group sees later in the season, but this is the crew that can make it happen.”

Denver’s high school runners head to Grundy Center tomorrow for the Spartan Invite before then teaming back up with the middle schoolers at Jesup on September 27.
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