NEVADA – North Polk ended up a little shy against Gilbert in a fierce battle for the Class A boys’ team championship at the Nevada Invitational Monday at Hickory Grove Park.
The two Heart of Iowa Conference rivals both entered the meet ranked in the top 5 among boys’ cross country teams competing in Class 2A, according to the Iowa Association of Track Coaches. North Polk was rated second, Gilbert fourth.
North Polk had edged Gilbert by two points the only other time the two teams ran in the same class two weeks ago at the Johnston Invitational.
On Monday, Gilbert prevailed by 11 points with a score of 56 to the Comets’ 67.
"It’s definitely going to be close every time we see them," North Polk No. 1 runner Peter Smith said. "It’s always nice to see how our guys come in compared to theirs."
Grinnell – the 10th ranked team in 3A – provided the Class A field with a third ranked power and the Tigers came in just six points behind North Polk. Even though North Polk came up short versus Gilbert, the Comets will get another crack at the Tigers at the HOIC meet in two weeks.
Smith ran an outstanding race on an altered Hickory Grove Course that made it a little tougher on runners. Smith was hoping to get his 5-kilometer time under 16 minutes, but with the changes to the course, he’ll gladly accept his runner-up time of 16:11.2.
"It’s kind of frustrating because they changed the course to make it real distance and I was kind of looking forward to the short course just to see the 15 up there," Smith said. "But it was definitely a good run."
Smith is ranked fifth individually in 2A. Gilbert boasted the first and third-rated runners in Thomas Pollard and Wesley Greder.
"My strategy any time I run with the Gilbert kids is to stay with those guys," Smith said. "Let them set the pace at first and then stay with them."
Smith wasn’t quite able to catch Pollard, who won in 15:59.3. But he knocked off Greder, who came in third at 16:19.9.
"I was happy," Smith said. "It was nice to beat Wes, but I think he’s been sick. Once he gets healthy, it’ll be close."
Ryley Sandberg continued his outstanding senior season for the Comets by placing seventh in 17:19.5. Reed Smith gave North Polk a third top-10 runner with a ninth-place time of 17:38.8, Christian Berglund came in 16th at 18:05.3 and Matthew Turk was the final scored Comet with a 33rd-place time of 18:51.9.
Gilbert’s third through fifth runners placed 10th, 11th and 31st.
Ballard also completed in Class A and the Bombers came in sixth with 150 points. Top Bomber runner Luke Kohut-Jackson returned, after missing Ballard’s previous meet and he ran a sixth-place time of 17:13.7.
"I’m glad to be back with the team," Kohut-Jackson said. "They needed me."
Though Ballard wasn’t able to crack the top five in a tough Class A field, Kohut-Jackson feels the team is heading in the right direction as it aims to return to state.
"We’ve definitely improved a lot since the beginning of the season," Kohut-Jackson said. "There are some younger guys coming on and moving up the ranks and that’s good because it helps push the older guys. They don’t like getting beat by the younger guys."
Craig Jordan was the second Bomber runner to cross the finish line as he came in 14th at 17:54.0. Kyle Schilling took 38th in 19:09.1, sophomore Bryce Snell was 45th in 19:27.7 and Quentin Luke clocked in at 19:30.7 as the final scored Bomber runner.
In the Class B boys’ race Collins-Maxwell-Baxter took fifth out of 11 teams with 313 points.
"Our boys competed very well tonight," CMB head coach Jerry Meinerts said. "We were only five points away from finishing third."
With top runner Mark Deutsch under the weather junior Colin Thompson stepped up with a top-10 performance for the Raiders. Thompson came in eighth with a time of 18:03.7.
"I started off with probably one of my best starts ever, but I thought my finish could be faster, but that will come with time," Thompson said. "I was a little surprised. Mark wasn’t feeling the greatest, so he could’ve done better, but this is probably my best race of the season so far. I just want to continue and improve as the season goes on."
Deutsch ended up 23rd in 19:21.7. Calvin Jones stepped up with a 26th-place time of 19:39.7 as CMB’s third runner.
Brock Johnston and Drake Caple also scored points for CMB. Johnston took 37th in 20:35.2 and Caple was 38th with a 20:39.4 showing.
South Hardin’s Tim Rose won the Class B individual title in 17:06.3.
Final boys’ team scores
Class A: 1. Gilbert 56 points, 2. North Polk 67, 3. Grinnell 73, 4. Nevada 135, 5. Norwalk 149, 6. Ballard 150, 7. Iowa Falls-Alden/AGWSR 167, 8. Carlisle 194, 9. Winterset 200, 10. South Tama 203.
Class B: 1. East Marshall 43, 2. BCLUW 94, 3. South Hamilton 125, 4. Prairie Valley 126, 5. CMB 130, 6. South Hardin 145, 7. West Marshall 146, 8. Roland-Story 163, 9. Colo-Nesco 208, 10. Madrid 250, 11. Colfax-Mingo 313.
Individual results (5-kilometer)
Class A – Ballard and North Polk: 2. Peter Smith (NP), 16:11.2; 6. Luke Kohut-Jackson (B), 17:13.7; 7. Ryley Sandberg (NP), 17:19.5; 9. Reed Smith (NP), 17:38.8; 14. Craig Jordan (B), 17:54.0; 16. Christian Berglund (NP), 18:05.3; 33. Matthew Turk (NP), 18:51.9; 38. Kyle Schilling (B), 19:09.1; 45. Bryce Snell (B), 19:27.7; 50. Caleb Wuestenberg (B), 19:35.7; 53. Ian Fletcher (B), 19:37.7; 55. Nick Kibby (NP), 19:42.2; 58. Michael Rimathe (NP), 19:57.2.
Class B – CMB: 8. Colin Thompson, 18:03.7; 23. Mark Deutsch, 19:21.7; 26. Calvin Jones, 19:39.7; 37. Brock Johnston, 20:35.2; 38. Drake Caple, 20:39.4; 44. Eric Hall-Flooden, 21:09.0; 52. Jacob Hallett, 21:43.6.