Ballard cross country runner Paityn Noe returns from injury to win girls' race at Mike Carr Invite

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune

She has competed at two state cross country meets and one state track meet. 

She was running on her home course Monday.

But that didn't stop Ballard junior Paityn Noe from being a little apprehensive heading into the Mike Carr Invitational at the Ballard Golf and Country Club.

"I was super-nervous coming in," Noe said. "I was just going to come in, see how I feel and run my best."

Noe's uneasiness was the result of a minor back injury she suffered at the start of the season. It forced her to miss Ballard's first meet and when she finally ran at Winterset last Tuesday there wasn't much pressure due to no team scoring and individual runners being separated by grade.

This was her first big meet of 2021. With Classes A and B running together there were runners from 24 teams competing at the same time.

To top it off Noe, the top returning runner in the state, was competing against the second, third, fourth, sixth and seventh runners in 3A. Carlisle senior Ainsley Erzen, Dallas Center-Grimes freshman Maddie Schmitz, Adel-Desoto-Minburn junior Geneva Timmerman, North Polk junior Liza Schaffer and Atlantic junior Ava Rush all presented a huge challenge to Noe.

Erzen and Noe had especially had some tough battles over the previous two seasons.

"I had a little bit of a break because of my back and Ainsley is just an incredible runner," Noe said. "I knew it was going to be tough."

Except it wasn't.

Noe looked like she was in peak form Monday. She left the rest of the field in the dust, winning the race by 43 seconds.

Ballard's Noe Paityn finishes the Mike Carr Invitational girls' race at the Ballard Golf & Country Club Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Huxley. Noe defeated all runners in Class A and B.

"It was a great battle between Paityn and Ainsley until the last 1,000 meters (one kilometer)," Ballard head coach Scott Barth said. "Then Paityn broke the race open for the W."

More:Analysis of Ballard's performance at the Winterset Invitational cross country meet

Noe was the only runner in either class to break 20 minutes. She completed the course in 19 minutes, 33.2 seconds

Noe was happy with how well she did coming off the back injury. But having run multiple sub-18s in 2020, she wasn't satisfied.

"I'm a little surprised," Noe said. "But I have a lot of improvement to do. I'll keep putting in the work and see where I get."

Ballard, ranked ninth in 3A and two-time defending state champion, scored 60 points to place second in the Class B team standings. Second-ranked Solon won with 36 points.

"I think we had a mixed bag of performances," Barth said. "We would have placed fourth in the combined A and B Class results behind Solon, No. 3 DC-G and an Indianola team ranked 17th in 4A. We would have beaten No. 4 North Polk, No. 5 Carlise and No. 6 Pella (all 3A), so I can’t say we ran a bad race. But we left some points on the course that I know we can improve on over the remainder of the season."

More:Ames Tribune Athlete of the Week: Paityn Noe

One other bright spot for Ballard was the performance of sophomore Ava Vance.

Vance was the second-fastest returning runner for Ballard entering 2021. Like Noe she missed Ballard's first meet at Webster City, but came back strong at Winterset.

On Monday Vance, ranked 27th in 3A, stepped up to place fifth in Class B with a time of 21:02.1.

Ballard's Ava Vance placed fifth in Class B to help the Bombers, ranked ninth in Class 3A, take second to No. 2 Solon at the Mike Carr Invitational Monday at the Ballard Golf & Country Club in Huxley.

"It's putting in miles and extra work over the summer," Vance said.

Vance is trying her best to give Noe some companionship at practices. Noe lost running mate Shewaye Johnson — last year's 3A individual state champion — over the summer after Johnson moved to Texas with her family.

"Shewaye was such a big part of our team and she's really missed," Vance said. "I don't really look at it as filling her shoes. I run warm-ups and cool-downs with (Noe). But during workouts she's on her own. I'm just doing the best I can."

Noe had the fastest time of any runner in all classes at last year's state meet other than Johnson.

Freshman Annika Larson stepped up to place in the top 15 for the Ballard girls at the Mike Carr Invite. Larson took 13th in 22:11.3.

Seniors Kate Huisinga and Brooke Loewe finished 20th and 21st with respective times of 23:00.0 and 23:00.7 as the other runners to score. Freshman Brynn Wilson was just outside the scoring cut with a 22nd-place time of 23:04.3 and sophomore Erica Espinoza took 38th in 24:52.8.

Short-handed Bomber boys place sixth

Ian Godbold (left) competes in the varsity boys' race for Ballard at the Mike Carr Invitational Sept. 13 in Huxley.

The Ballard boys' cross country team finished right in the middle of the pack in the Class B standings. The Bombers finished sixth out of 12 schools with 192 points.

North Polk, the No. 2 team in 3A, won the boys' Class B title with 45 points. Solon, ranked 12th in 3A, scored 53 points to place second.

"The boys were missing our steady second or third runner Trent Payne tonight as he was not feeling well and did not compete," Barth said. "The boys had had a very good week of practices heading into the meet tonight and we had talked about packing our runners up, but that sort of fell apart without the leadership that Trent has. That being said, we still ran fairly well."

Seth Pencook led the Bomber boys by placing 21st with a 5k time of 19:07.8. Bradley Sage came in 39th at 20:23.0, Chase Brekke 41st at 20:27.1, Zack Charter 43rd in 20:37.5 and Logan Huntrods 48th in 21:30.7.

Junior Ian Godbold took 71st in 23:52.5 and freshman Braden Kubichek 72nd in 23:53.6. 

Des Moines Christian's Aaron Fynaardt and Carson Houg, the second and third-ranked individual 2A runners in the state, took first and second individually in the Class B boys' race with respective times of 16:16.3 and 16:31.9.

Girls take 18th at Heartland Classic

Ballard also ran at the Heartland Classic Saturday at the Central College Cross Country Course in Pella.

The Bombers competed against many of the best teams in the Midwest. The girls placed 18th out of 40 schools with 436 points and the boys came in 42nd out of 43 with 1,201.

Noe finished sixth individually in the girls' race with a 5k time of 18:44. It was her best time of the season.

Vance took 46th in 20:27.1, Huisinga 95th in 21:27.8, Loewe 144th in 22:23.0, Larson 145th in 22:24.3, Wilson 146th in 22:26.7 and Ava Richardson 159th in 22:43.1.

Pencook led the boys with a 184th-place 5k time of 18:34.2. Payne returned to the lineup and too 242nd in 19:35.2, Sage was 252nd in 19:55.8, Charter 253rd in 19:56.4, Huntrods 270th in 20:48.0 and Brekke 279th in 21:44.2.