DES MOINES - Ballard kept its hot streak going and North Polk showed it belonged among the top teams in 3A during the girls’ race at the Saydel Invitational cross country meet Oct. 4 at Saydel High School in Des Moines.
The Bombers entered the meet ranked third in Class 3A and North Polk was ranked 12th. Rain-outs had prevented the two teams from competing against each other prior to the meet, but they brought out the best in each other at Saydel.
Only four points separated the two teams. Ballard won with 27 points and North Polk’s runner-up score was 31. Perry was a distant third in the six-team girls’ field with 99 points.
“We’ve been really prepping for this race because all our meets have been cancelled and we haven’t really been able to race against Ballard,” North Polk freshman runner Lucy Schaffer said. “Right now they’re ranked third and we’re ranked 12th. We’ve been working really hard to beat Ballard and I think it was pretty close this race.”
Schaffer placed second individually with a 5-kilometer time of 20 minutes, 3.62 seconds. She excelled despite forgetting to bring her cleats along for the meet.
“You can definitely tell the difference because you’re feet feel a lot heavier,” Schaffer said. “But I think there was a lot of gravel on this course, (so) it was not as bad as it could’ve been.”
Ballard’s Ellie Twedt was the individual champion, winning her fourth meet title in a row with a 19:37.98 showing.
“It was a good race,” Twedt said. “I just had to stay calm and collected and focusing on the task at hand. That’s really kind of been my key — not to stress out too much because I’m guilty of that a lot.”
The Bombers had just enough depth to hold off the Comets.
Caitlin Maher placed fourth in 20:12.16, Brooke Loewe fifth in 20:23.93, Meg Rietz eighth in 20:43.17 and Rachel Wohlgemuth ninth in 20:45.69 to complete the scoring for Ballard. The Bombers had a sixth top-10 runner in Hailey Cole, who placed 10th in 20:46.85, and Josie Fleischmann came in just outside the top 10 with a 12th-place time of 20:52.18.
“I’m so excited about our team this year,” Twedt said. “I was just telling my teammates we’re already better than we were last year. We’re all running under 21 (minutes) and really sticking together in practice.”
A dedicated attitude at practice has fueled Ballard’s success.
“We want to give our all, even though it might be a hard workout,” Twedt said. “We definitely try to leave it all out there.”
North Polk showed no signs of a team that had only run once since Sept. 15 prior to the meet.
The Comets had four runners in the top seven. Kennedy Wendel placed just behind Schaffer with a third-place time of 20:04.72, Sophie Schaffer took sixth in 20:23.90 and Aleah McBee finished seventh in 20:31.96.
Abi Zimmer was the final runner to score for North Polk with a 14th-place time of 21:21.25. Addie Cooper took 15th in 21:22.78 and Emily Patterson continued her road back from an injury with a 17th-place time of 21:49.66.
“You’d think we’d be more out of shape and not ready enough,” Lucy Schaffer said. “But our coach (Steve Leach) has been upping the mileage. We’ve been running hard in practice and running a lot, so that’s really been helpful.”
The boys’ competition featured nearly twice as many teams as the girls’ field at 11. Ballard placed second with 64 points and North Polk fourth with 128.
Jace Beall led the Ballard boys with a sixth-place 5-kilometer time of 17:44.39.
“I didn’t run as well as I wish I would’ve,” Beall said. “But the team did well.”
Ballard had two other runners — Gage Long and Nathan Wuestenberg place in the top 10. The Bombers excelled despite being without two of their top runners — Erik and Ryan Ledet — who were held out to prevent any injuries with the Raccoon River Conference meet coming up.”
“Right now as a team we’re really strong,” Beall said. “We had three guys under 18 today and two guys didn’t run that would’ve been under 18. Gage and Nathan both ran well today.”
Long placed eighth in 17:52.68 and Wuestenberg ninth in 17:52.97. Jack Chism added a 17th-place time of 18:33.54 and Dante Jones took 24th in 18:46.98 to complete the Bomber scoring.
Seth Wohlgemuth and Zane Charter also ran varsity for the Ballard boys. Wohlgemuth took 28th in 18:50.16 and Charter 45th in 19:42.37.
North Polk was led by a 13th-place time of 18:10.67 by Gabe Drake. Sam Carstensen came in 19th at 18:35.92, Noah Church 30th in 18:59.24, Will Lesher 32nd in 19:02.16 and Seth Subra 34th in 19:06.41.
Nathan Crabb and Bryce Houser also ran varsity for North Polk. Crabb took 42nd in 19:35.32 and Houser 49th in 19:55.21.
Des Moines Christian, the No. 14 team in 2A, won the boys’ team title at Saydel with 51 points. Des Moines Lincoln’s Andrew Klein won the boys’ individual title in 16:49.67 and West Central Valley’s Louden Foster — the No. 17 runner in 1A — placed second in 17:09.44.
Final team scores
Girls: 1. Ballard 27 points, 2. North Polk 31, 3. Perry 99, 4. Greene County 122, 5. Woodward-Granger 131, 6. Boone 153.
Boys: 1. Des Moines Christian 51, 2. Ballard 64, 3. Des Moines Lincoln 65, 4. North Polk 128, 5. Saydel 135, 6. Woodward-Granger 181, 7. Perry 182, 8. Boone 188, 9. West Central Valley 216, 10. Greene County 234, 11. Ankeny Christian Academy 308.
Individual results (5-kilometer) - Ballard and North Polk
Girls: 1. Ellie Twedt (B), 19:37.98; 2. Lucy Schaffer (NP), 20:03.62; 3. Kennedy Wendel (NP), 20:04.72; 4. Caitlin Maher (B), 20:12.68; 5. Brooke Loewe (B), 20:23.93; 6. Sophie Schaffer (NP), 20:23.90; 7. Aleah McBee (NP), 20:31.96; 8. Meg Rietz (B), 20:43.17; 9. Rachel Wohlgemuth (B), 20:45.69; 10. Hailey Cole (B), 20:46.85; 12. Josie Fleischmann (B), 20:52.18; 14. Abi Zimmer (NP), 21:21.25; 15. Addie Cooper (NP), 21:22.78; 17. Emily Patterson (NP), 21:49.66.
Boys: 6. Jace Beall (B), 17:44.39; 8. Gage Long (B), 17:52.68; 9. Nathan Wuestenberg (B), 17:52.97; 13. Gabe Drake (NP), 18:10.67; 17. Jack Chism (B), 18:33.54; 19. Sam Carstensen (NP), 18:35.92; 24. Dante Jones (B), 18:46.98; 28. Seth Wohlgemuth (B), 18:50.16; 30. Noah Church (NP), 18:59.24; 32. Will Lesher (NP), 19:02.16; 34. Seth Subra (NP), 19:06.41; 42. Nathan Crabb (NP), 19:35.32; 45. Zane Charter, 19:42.37; 49. Bryce Houser, 19:55.21.