NEVADA - North Polk turned in another winning performance and Ballard had a runner take second overall in the girls’ race at the Nevada Invitational cross country meet Sept. 26 at Hickory Grove Park near Nevada.
The Comet girls, rated No. 4 in Class 3A, had four runners place in the top 10 to finish with 48 points. That was just enough to beat out No. 10 Gilbert (55 points) and No. 5 Ballard (56) for the team championship out of 11 competing schools.
“It was a fast course,” North Polk junior Emily Patterson said. “It was fun and a lot of competition for us.”
Patterson came in seventh-place overall for the Comet girls at the meet with a 5-kilometer time of 20 minutes, 26.79 seconds. Patterson, an individual state qualifier as a freshman, is finally getting back to top form after battling a hip injury her sophomore year.
“It feels really good,” Patterson said. “It’s good to be back.”
Her strong performance this season is a big reason why North Polk has emerged as one of the top five teams in 3A. The Comets have been a perennial state qualifier under Leach, but this is just their second year in 3A after moving up from 2A last fall.
“It feels good because we feel like we’ve worked so hard,” Patterson said of the Comets’ lofty ranking. “It’s just cool to actually achieve what we’ve been going for all these years.”
Senior Amelia Lesher — the 10th-rated individual runner in 3A — continued to lead North Polk at the Nevada Invite. Lesher placed third overall with a time of 19:43.68.
Sophie Blanchard and Kennedy Wendel also turned in top-10 times for the Comets. Blanchard took ninth in 20:48.37 and Wendel 10th in 21:02.60.
“We’re just trying to run as a pack as much as we can and get as close to Amelia as we can,” Blanchard said. “That’s the only way we’re going to get stronger.”
Freshman Addie Cooper was the final runner to earn points for North Polk with a 19th-place time of 21:38.95. Grace Croat came in 27th at 22:22.54 and Jessica Weis 33rd in 22:40.67 for North Polk.
Like with North Polk, Ballard is also trying to build depth behind its lead runner.
Sophomore Ellie Twedt — the No. 17 runner in 3A — ran an outstanding runner-up time for Ballard at the Nevada Invitational. The Bombers didn’t quite match North Polk at the front their pack behind Twedt, but they showed great promise as all seven Bomber runners placed in the top 25, despite not having one of their top runners — Lauren Matthews — available to run.
“We all ran really close together,” Ballard freshman Caitlin Maher said. “We were trying to come out today and get better than we got last time. I think a lot of us got our personal best.”
Summer McVicker was the second runner for Ballard behind Twedt at Nevada. She placed 11th in 21:06.98.
Maher placed 13th in 21:18.88 and Rachel Wohlgemuth was right behind in 14th-place with a 21:19.91 showing for the Bombers. Wohlgemuth is currently fighting her way back from capsulitis in her toe joint.
“(I’m) not quite 100 percent, but we’ve been building up,” Wohlgemuth said. “The team’s been supportive, letting me run when I can run and encouraging me to keep going.”
Freshman Josie Fleischmann also scored points for Ballard with a 16th-place time of 21:30.54. Hailey Cole came in 22nd at 22:01.09 and Anna Zielke finished 24th in 22:14.90 to round out the varsity competition for Ballard.
Twedt completed the course in 19:33.18 to come up just short of the individual championship. Iowa Falls-Alden/AGWSR’s Aubrie Fisher — ranked 11th in 3A — won in 19:32.98.
Collins-Maxwell also competed in the Nevada Invitational. Going up against several larger schools, the Spartan girls came in ninth with 225 points.
“Six of our seven girls ran their season-best times tonight,” Collins-Maxwell head cross country coach Jerry Meinerts said. “I couldn’t have asked for them to run any better tonight than what they did. They competed well from start to finish. There was just some super-good competition there tonight — five rated teams finished in front of us.”
Sophomore Mikayla Houge continued to lead the Spartan girls with a 34th-place time of 22:44.95. Whitney Spencer came in 45th at 23:30.06, Olivia Pasquariello 46th in 23:33.73, Abby Husak 49th at 23:51.95 and Shasta Moody 61st with a 24:45.46 showing to round out the scoring for Collins-Maxwell.
Tori Bienfang and Morgan Day were the Spartans’ other varsity competitors. Bienfang took 64th in 25:21.37 and Day 66th in 25:41.77.
Final girls’ team scores: 1. North Polk 48 points, 2. Gilbert 55, 3. Ballard 56, 4. IFA/AGWSR 112, 5. Roland-Story 176, 6. Baxter 177, 7. West Marshall 195, 8. Nevada 217, 9. Collins-Maxwell 225, 10. South Hamilton 261, 11. Colo-NESCO 286.
Individual girls’ results (5-kilometer) - Ballard, Collins-Maxwell and North Polk
2. Ellie Twedt (B), 19:33.18; 3. Amelia Lesher (NP), 19:43.68; 7. Emily Patterson (NP), 20:26.79; 9. Sophie Blanchard (NP), 20:48.37; 10. Kennedy Wendel (NP), 21:02.60; 11. Summer McVicker (B), 21:06.98; 13. Caitlin Maher (B), 21:18.88; 14. Rachel Wohlgemuth (B), 21:19.91; 16. Josie Fleischmann (B), 21:30.54; 19. Addie Cooper (NP), 21:38.95; 22. Hailey Cole (B), 22:01.09; 24. Anna Zielke (B), 22:14.90; 27. Grace Croat (NP), 22:22.54; 33. Jessica Weis (NP), 22:40.67; 34. Mikayla Houge (CM), 22:44.95; 45. Whitney Spencer (CM), 23:30.06; 46. Olivia Pasquariello (CM), 23:33.73; 49. Abby Husak (CM), 23:51.95; 61. Shasta Moody (CM), 24:45.46; 64. Tori Bienfang (CM), 25:21.37; 66. Morgan Day (CM), 25:41.77.