SPENCER - The Ballard girls lived up to their lofty ranking at the Class 3A state qualifying meet in Spencer Oct. 18.
The Bombers entered the meet ranked second in Class 3A. They went up against No. 4 Bishop Heelan Catholic, No. 14 Lemars and No. 15 Spencer.
Ballard prevailed by having four runners place in the top 15 to individually qualify for state, and its final scored runner finish just outside the state cutoff with a 16th-place showing. The Bombers ended up with 44 points to beat Bishop Heelan by 15 points for first and earn a trip to state as a team for the fifth year in a row.
“Over the course of the last three or four meets, we have developed from being a good team to a very good team,” Ballard head cross country coach Scott Barth said. “We are competing at a high level, which allowed us to handle a very solid Heelan team that returned most of their team that finished sixth at state meet 2017.”
Spencer was the other team from the meet to qualify for state after taking third with 86 points. Lemars finished with a score of 107.
Ellie Twedt, Caitlin Maher, Brooke Loewe and Rachel Wohlgemuth were the four Bombers to qualify for state individually.
Twedt, ranked 12th in 3A as an individual runner, placed second at Spencer with a 5-kilometer time of 19 minutes, 22.68 seconds. Humboldt’s Bryce Gidel, rated No. 5 in 3A, just edged out Twedt for the girls’ title with a time of 19:13.33.
Maher — the No. 19 runner in 3A — took fifth overall in 20:04.29. Spirit Lake’s Kourtney Delperdang, rated No. 11, and Bishop Heelan’s Amber Aesoph, ranked No. 10, came in just ahead of Maher at the qualifying meet with respective times of 19:46.15 and 19:55.01.
Loewe, a freshman, placed ninth in 20:09.64. Wohlgemuth finished 12th with a 20:23.90 showing.
Freshman Meg Rietz was the Bomber to fall a tad shy of qualifying individually. Her time of 20:36.11 was less than four seconds behind the final qualifying time of 20:32.26 by Lemars’ Chloe Calhoun.
Josie Fleischmann and Hailey Cole also ran varsity for Ballard at the meet. Wierson finished 24th in 21:16.47 and Cole 26th in 21:33.43.
“Our confidence is growing,” Barth said. “We will take the next nine days to fine-tune and hopefully make a run at the state meet. With the development of Ellie and Caitlin as top runners in 3A, and an extremely solid pack following them, we should competitive with the other teams in the field. These girls are mentally tough and have been competing better and better. It’s exciting to see.”
The Ballard boys entered the meet hoping to slip into the top three and join the girls at state. But the Bombers couldn’t quite keep up with a strong pack of teams in Sergeant-Bluff Luton, Humboldt, MOC-Floyd Valley and Lemars, placing fifth as a team with 151 points.
“We as coaches felt, and still feel, that we had the talent to get to state this season,” Barth said. “But the pieces didn’t fall into place.”
Injuries to the sibling tandem of Ryan and Erik Ledet proved costly for the Ballard boys at the qualifying meet.
The problem tonight centered around Ryan and Erik, who have dealing with a condition that causes their legs to feel immense burning sensations off and on during races,” Barth said. “One meet might be fine and another not so much. That hit tonight as Ryan, one of our top runners, was sitting in seventh place in the race when it hit and he fell back nearly 50 spots before collapsing at the finish. His brother Erik, another top runner for us, had the same issue tonight, which led to a subpar performance.”
“That pretty much took us out of contention,” Barth said. “The other runners continued on and ran solid races, but it was not enough and we finished out of the top three.”
Jace Beall led the Ballard boys at Spencer with a 5-kilometer time of 17:59.57 that put him in 23rd place overall. Nathan Wuestenberg finished 26th in 18:01.80, Jack Chism 28th in 18:03.91, Gage Long 36th in 18:18.96 and Christopher Lee 38th in 18:20.26 to complete the Bomber scoring.
Erik Ledet ended up just behind Lee in 39th place with a time of 18:20.95. Ryan took 53rd in 18:52.24.
“There was not one guy on this team that didn’t leave it on the course tonight and give it their all,” Barth said. “It just wasn’t our night and we did not get the job done.”
Sergeant Bluff-Luton — the No. 14 team in 3A — won the boys’ title at Spencer with 76 points. Humboldt, ranked eighth, came in a close second with a score of 79, MOC-Floyd Valley was the final qualifying team with 103 points and Lemars, ranked 11th, finished just outside the state cut with a fourth-place score of 107.
Humboldt’s Quinton Orr was the boys’ individual champion with a time of 16:28.73 and Algona’s Trey Engen took second in 16:48.60. Orr is rated eighth individually and Engen seventh.
The state coed cross country meet takes place this Saturday at the Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge. The 3A girls’ meet is set to begin at noon.
Final team scores
Girls: 1. Ballard 44 points, 2. Bishop Heelan Catholic 59, 3. Spencer 86, 4. Lemars 107, 5. MOC-Floyd Valley 152, 6. Humboldt, 152, 7. Spirit Lake, 189, 8. Sergeant Bluff-Luton 208, 9. Boyden-Hull-Rock Valley 211, 10. Clear Lake 270, 11. Algona 292, 12. Webster City 352, 13. Storm Lake 393.
Boys: 1. Sergeant Bluff-Luton 76, 2. Humboldt 79, 3. MOC-Floyd Valley 103, 4. Lemars 107, 5. Ballard 151, 6. Clear Lake 164, 7. Boyden-Hull-Rock Valley 201, 8. Storm Lake 239, 9. Bishop Heelan Catholic 261, 10. Spirit Lake 262, 11. Spencer 263, 12. Algona 272, 13. Webster City 275.
Individual results (5-kilometer) - Ballard
Girls: 2. Ellie Twedt, 19:22.98; 5. Caitlin Maher, 20:04.29; 9. Brooke Loewe, 20:09.64; 12. Rachel Wohlgemuth, 20:23.90; 16. Meg Rietz, 20:36.11; 24. Josie Fleischmann, 21:16.47; 26. Hailey Cole, 21:33.43.
Boys: 23. Jace Beall, 17:59.57; 26. Nathan Wuestenberg, 18:01.80; 28. Jack Chism, 18:03.91; 36. Gage Long, 18:18.96; 38. Christopher Lee, 18:20.26; 39. Erik Ledet, 18:20.95; 53. Ryan Ledet, 18:52.24.