FORT DODGE, Iowa — Chris Brace was back at the state meet. And this time he wasn't alone.
The Harlan senior led western Iowa with a 23rd-place showing in the Iowa Class 3-A portion of the state cross country meet Saturday at the Lakeside Municipal Golf Course. Even sweeter for him was the sight of a full Cyclones boys team appearing in the season's final race for the first time since 1983.
“It was nice just warming up with everybody,” Brace said. “It was a lot different from last year.”
Harlan took ninth, with Brace and senior Philip Sciranko (40th) leading of the pack. They're the only graduating runners in a scoring lineup Saturday that included junior Preston Burris (67th) and sophomores Michael Sciranko (78th) and Caleb Brace (95th).
“Everybody ran well, but everybody's good here, so now they understand positioning better here,” Harlan coach Doug Renkly said. “This is the first time in a long time that the boys have made it as a team, so hopefully they can get a little tradition started here and build off this.”
Creston also held its own while appearing at state for the first time in 25 years. The Panthers were 13th as sophomore Cooper McDermott (46th) was the squad's best runner. Creston will lose only one scoring senior in Garret Taylor (107th).
For the girls, Sioux City Heelan brought up the rear at 15th in the team standings, with Lauren Bleeker (47th) the Crusaders' top finisher. Other western Iowa participants included Atlantic sophomore Tiffany Williams (24th), Shenandoah-Essex senior Megan Hart (41st) and Creston junior Maria Mostek (55th).
Hart, who won a surprise Hawkeye Ten Conference individual title last month, faded midway through but still achieved her goal of crossing the finish line in less than 16 minutes (15:56). The four-time state qualifier announced afterward she was committing to run next season at Morningside.
“I had this crazy idea to hit 15 (minutes) by the end of the year, so I was like, 'Let's make that my goal,' ” Hart said. “But hitting under 16, that's good.”
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Cook shines in Class 2-A meet
Missouri Valley freshman Alexis Cook had bigger plans. But she still can't complain about her state debut.
Cook started near the front of the Class 2-A race Saturday before eventually settling for 22nd in a 122-girl field. Western Iowa's only other participant was OA-BCIG junior Bailey Hare, who placed 21st.
“I wanted to medal but didn't get that far,” Cook said. “Next year. I didn't think I'd make it to state, so I'm happy where I'm at right now.”
For the boys, Shenandoah grabbed fifth overall in its 22nd state appearance, with junior Nate Hoyt heading the effort in 26th. OA-BCIG senior Lane Prather (25th) helped his team finish ninth.
Red Oak's Josh Sunberg (45th) and Logan LeRette (123rd) ran individually.
Sioux City East's Jacob Scott was western Iowa's only representative in Class 4-A for boys or girls. The senior and Missouri River Conference meet champ placed 22nd.