NORWALK - The Ballard girls’ cross country team won an exciting race against Pella to take first at the Norwalk Invitational Monday at the McAninch Sports Complex in Norwalk.


The Bombers, ranked third in Class 3A, beat the No. 4 Little Dutch by one point for first out of nine teams. Ballard scored 53 points and Pella finished with a score of 54.


“I wouldn’t say it was our best outing of the season,” Ballard head cross country coach Scott Barth said. “But we did run well enough to eek out a victory over a very balanced No. 4 Pella (team). So, you really can’t find a lot to fault in that.”


Depth was the key for Ballard. Pella had four runners finish in the top 10 to Ballard’s two, but the Bombers’ No. 5 runner — Josie Fleischmann — finished seven spots ahead of Ashley Blommers — the final Little Dutch runner to score points.


Ballard was also stronger at the head of its pack, with Ellie Twedt winning the race individually, giving her three meet titles in a row. Twedt, the No. 11 female runner in 3A, ran a 5-kilometer time of 19 minutes, 20.5 seconds to beat No. 13 Mary Blanchard of Grinnell by seven seconds for first.


Caitlin Maher — ranked 28th in 3A — placed sixth individually for Ballard with a time of 20:03.8. Meg Rietz took 13th in 20:28.7, Brooke Loewe 14th in 20:35.6 and Fleischmann 19th in 20:49.2.


Rachel Wohlgemuth finished just a hair behind Fleischmann with a 20th-place time of 20:49.4. Hailey Cole took 22nd for the Bombers in 21:02.2.


In the boys’ competition, Ballard also did well, placing fourth out of 11 teams with 124 points. Carlisle, the No. 3 boys’ team in 3A, won with 39 points, No. 11 Grinnell was second with a score of 68 and No. 12 Pella placed third with 80 points.


The men ran another solid race this evening,” Barth said. “Our pack of scoring varsity runners continues to be very good, with only a 49 second gap tonight, which was second best among all varsity teams.”


Jace Beall medaled with a 15th-place 5-kilometer time of 17:12.6 as the first runner for the Bomber boys to complete the course. Ryan Ledet also finished in the top 20 with a 17:22.4 showing.


Nathan Wuestenberg ended up 26th in 17:42.8, Erik Ledet 28th in 17:46.8 and Gage Long 35th in 18:01.9 to wrap up the scoring for the Ballard boys. Jack Chism took 49th in 18:45.6 and Chase Winterboer 60th in 19:08.3.


Grinnell’s Matthew Cunningham and Joe Simon came in first and second individually in the boys’ race with respective times of 16:33.2 and 16:41.6.


Final team scores


Girls: 1. Ballard 53 points, 2. Pella 54, 3. Grinnell 78, 4. Norwalk 99, 5. Newton 128, 6. Winterset 146, 7. Marshalltown 181, 8. Bondurant-Farrar 227, 9. PCM 227.


Boys: 1. Carlisle 39 points, 2. Grinnell 68, 3. Pella 80, 4. Ballard 124, 5. Bondurant-Farrar 134, 6. Cedar Rapids Xavier 153, 7. Marshalltown 180, 8. Winterset 217, 9. Norwalk 220, 10. Newton 239, 11. PCM 331.


Individual results (5-kilometer) - Ballard


Girls: 1. Ellie Twedt, 19:20.5; 6. Caitlin Maher, 20:03.8; 13. Meg Rietz, 20:28.7; 14. Brooke Loewe, 20:35.6; 19. Josie Fleischmann 20:49.2; 20. Rachel Wohlgemuth, 20:49.4; 22. Hailey Cole, 21:02.2.


Boys: 15. Jace Beall, 17:12.6; 20. Ryan Ledet, 17:22.4; 26. Nathan Wuestenberg, 17:42.8; 28. Erik Ledet, 17:46.8; 35. Gage Long, 18:01.9; 49. Jack Chism, 18:45.6; 60. Chase Winterboer, 19:08.3.