With about 800 meters remaining in the boys race at Saturday’s Abraham Lincoln Cross Country Invitational at Iowa Western, St. Albert senior Bennet Heisterkamp was leading Thomas Jefferson junior Aidan Booton, looking to avenge a loss to the Yellow Jacket runner a week ago in Glenwood.
Booton had other ideas.
“From the 800 mark, I kind of slowly gained on him, and I was kind of with him,” Booton said. “And I just figured, there’s 400 meters left, a lap around the track, I’m just going to lay it.”
Booton finished strong, crossing the finish line in 16:57, the only runner under 17 minutes, for his fourth career victory and second in as many weeks.
“The competition just keeps getting better. You gotta keep up,” Booton said. “Them kids, they do not give in.”
T.J. coach Doug Muehlig said he hasn’t had a boy runner in his more than three decades coaching at Thomas Jefferson who had four career wins and two in a season.
Of Booton’s blistering finish, Heisterkamp said, “(We were) coming in at the end, and Booton kicked and he had a crazy kick; he’s really good.”
Early in the race, the lead pace was set by a group that included Booton and Heisterkamp, along with Harlan junior Trey Gross, Abraham Lincoln senior Steven Hornberg and junior Caden Tellander, and two more Yellow Jackets, senior Wimach Gilo and junior Juan Martinez, along with a trio of Lewis Central runners.
Just past the one mile mark, Heisterkamp, Booton and Gross made their move. The three ranked runners (Heisterkamp is 6th in Class 1-A, Booton is 10th in 4-A, and Gross is 26th in 3-A) created a small amount of separation, as Gilo (ranked 14th in 4-A), Hornberg, Tellander, and Titans Connor Lancial, Cael Woltmann, and Nathan Sell gave chase.
“It’s great competition. Every time, I can count on a good race,” Heisterkamp said of his competition.
Ultimately, Booton broke away for the individual win, while leading the Jackets to a second consecutive team victory. T.J. finished with a team score of 56, outpacing Lewis Central by 35 points. Gilo finished fourth, Martinez was fifth, and senior Gage Belt was the fourth Jacket in the top 13.
“Gage Belt, for the second week in a row, was probably our MVP as our fourth runner,” Muehlig said. “And, our sixth and seventh runners really made us better today.”
Lewis Central was paced by seniors Lancial, Woltmann, and junior Nathan Sell, who finished sixth, eighth, and ninth, respectively. The Titans amassed 91 points, just besting Sergeant-Bluff Luton (94 points) for second place.
“I was really happy with how they attacked the course,” Titan coach Taylor May said. “Having three in the top 10 was a good leap for us.”
May was impressed with Nathan Sell’s performance, and realizes his team needs to continue to work.
“As we work through the season, (we will be) trying to work on getting that 4, 5, and 6 guy up trying to pack run a little bit.”
Abraham Lincoln had two top-10 finishers as Hornberg crossed in seventh (17:56) and Tellander was 10th (18:23) leading the Lynx to a seventh-place team finish.
Harlan had two of the top 11, led by Gross who was third in 17:14.80. The Cyclones were fourth overall with 105 points.
Many of the teams competing on Saturday will be back at the same course next Saturday for the Lewis Central Invitational where the Jackets will be looking to pick up a third team win.
“We gotta get better,” Muehlig said. “We’ve won two meets and I’m saying this. I’m so happy, because I knew this would such a challenging meet. Everybody is getting better, and we just gotta keep getting better.”
Team Scores: 1, Thomas Jefferson 56; 2, Lewis Central 91; 3, Sergeant-Bluff Luton 94; 4, Harlan 105; 5, St. Albert 117; 6, Denison-Schleswig 127; 7, Abraham Lincoln 134; 8, Le Mars 135; 9, Missouri Valley 231.
Individual top 20: 1, Aidan Booton, TJ, 16:57; 2, Bennet Heisterkamp, SA, 17:05; 3, Trey Gross, Harlan, 17:14; 4, Wimach Gilo, TJ, 17:16; 5, Juan Martinez, TJ, 17:34; 6, Connor Lancial, LC, 17:41; 7, Steven Hornberg, AL, 17:56; 8, Cael Woltmann, LC, 18:11; 9, Nathan Sell, LC, 18:16; 10, Caden Tellander, AL, 18:23; 11, Brennon Munch, Harlan, 18:28; 12, Carlos Rodriguez, SBL, 18:33; 13, Gage Belt, TJ, 18:44; 14, Jason Sudtelgte, Le Mars, 18:51; 15, Ty Shoulders, SBL, 18:59; 16, Colin Lillie, SA, 19:00.10, 17, Leo Flores, Denison-Schleswig, 19:00.80; 18, Ricky Ledesma, Denison-Schleswig, 19:03; 19, Isaac Bryan, SBL, 19:04; 20, Ethan Hulinsky, Le Mars, 19:04.
Abraham Lincoln: 7, Steven Hornberg, 17:56; 10, Caden Tellander, 18:23; 35, Lucas Fitch, 19:51; 36, Makosa Jones, 19:59; 46, Ethan Leinen, 20:35; 49, Brandon Toledo, 20:57; 52, Judy Ryan, 21:16.
Lewis Central: 6, Connor Lancial, 17:41; 8, Cael Woltmann, 18:11; 9, Nathan Snell, 18:16; 30, Josh Sell, 19:36; 38, Ethan Edwards, 20:02; 39, Tanner Higgins, 20:05; 60, Sam Higginbotham, 22:15.
St. Albert: 2, Bennet Heisterkamp, 17:05; 16, Collin Lillie, 19:00; 21, Hayden Piskorski, 19:14; 27, Ryan Hughes, 19:28; 51, Adam Denny, 21:15; 53, Jason Mardesen, 21:16; 58, Chase Morton, 22:00.
Thomas Jefferson: 1, Aidan Booton, 16:57; 4, Wimach Gilo, 17:16; 5, Juan Martinez, 17:34; 13, Gage Belt, 18:44; 33, Alex Aguilar, 19:44; 34, Hunter Ryba, 19:45; 43, Mason Allen, 20:26.