Five Council Bluffs Class 4-A cross-country runners qualified for the state meet. It may have been cold when the race started, but the heat was on in the last 800 meters.
Lewis Central qualified one runner from the boys race, and one from the girls, while Thomas Jefferson had three boys finish in the top 15. The top three teams and top 15 individuals qualified for the state meet.
“I’ve never had three boys make it as individuals,” Thomas Jefferson coach Doug Muehlig said. “Triplets, they’re my triplets. I was hoping all three could make it. It’s hard, you hope things fall right. I’ve never had three (runners) like this. They care, they have heart, they just bust their tails.”
“A great day for our program,” Lewis Central coach Taylor May said. “I’m very happy for our two qualifiers.”
T.J. senior Wimach Gilo was the top finisher among Council Bluffs schools. Gilo placed third at the state qualifying meet with a time of 16 minutes and 41 seconds, and is making his second trip to the state meet.
“He’s come a long ways,” Muehlig said. “He worked his butt off this summer, and has become a leader. The strides he takes, he just gobbles up ground.”
The long-strider Gilo, No. 30 in the latest boys individual rankings, stayed near the lead for most of the race.
“I think I can compete with anyone out here,” Gilo said. “There was good competition out here, work needs to be done, and that’s what I did.”
Juan Martinez and Aidan Booton also finished eighth and ninth, respectively. Martinez edged out Booton with a time of 17:02. Booton is heading to the state meet for the second time, while Martinez will be making his first appearance.
“Aiden (Booton), he’s got the heart, he’s such a competitor,” Muehlig said. “Juan (Martinez), talent wise, maybe the best of the three.”
Haley Bach was the lone girl qualifier on the day for Council Bluffs schools. Bach is heading to state for the second straight year. Qualifying for the first time, L.C.’s Connor Lancial finished 13th in the boys race with a time of 17:09.
“Haley, she’s worked so hard all year,” May said. “She ran a great race. She did exactly what she needed to do.”
Bach was around 10th after the first 800 meters. As the group disappeared into the woods, Bach dropped to around 19th, before making her push up the hill and to the finish line.
“I’m proud of my time because this is a tough course,” Bach said. “With about 800 left, I broke out and caught a couple of girls.”
Despite falling back during the middle portion of the race, Bach closed strong. She made up ground on the hills and had a strong finish.
“She really takes advantage of that last part of the race, and closes it down, we call her our closer,” May said. “She’s got that mentality. She’s a fighter. She doesn’t want anybody to beat her.”
Lancial, is going to the state meet for the first time. He finished one second ahead of the 15th-place finisher.
“Connor, I’m just elated for him,” May said. “He’s a kid that’s put in the work for four years. He really stepped it up this year. He was determined at the beginning of the summer. He had one goal in his mind, and that was to make it to Fort Dodge.
“He’s a kid that’s really had a transition. “He’s really started to not only think about cross country in a physical form, but mentally as well. He’s stepped up his game preparing and getting ready for the race.”
Like Bach, Lancial made his move in the last 800 meters.
“That’s where I decided, I’m going to go,” Lancial said. “I got into a good position at 15, and then around this last 200, I really kicked it.
“I couldn’t be happier with how I finished the second half of my race. I mentally went into it. The last 800 was a pack between 13 to 20, I knew I really had to go.”
Steven Hornberg of Abraham Lincoln finished just outside the top 15. Hornberg placed 17th with a time of 17:26.
“I feel I did good even if I didn’t qualify for state,” Hornberg said. “This was probably my best race of the season. It felt good, I ran my race.”
Waukee, Sioux City East and Urbandale were the top three finishers on the girls side, while Sioux City North, Urbandale and Waukee finished top three on the boys side.
Girls team results
1, Waukee; 2, Sioux City East; 3, Urbandale; 4, Ankeny Centennial; 5, Sioux City North; 6, Lewis Central; 7, Abraham Lincoln; 8, Thomas Jefferson; 9, Sioux City West
Girls individual results
1, Kaia Downs, SCE, 19:19; 2, Sydney Schaffer, Waukee, 19:26; 3, Peyton Kelderman, Waukee, 19:47; 4, Isabelle Schaffer, Waukee, 20:00; 5, Molly Bannister, Waukee, 20:02; 6, Kathryn Vortherms, AC, 20:17; 7, Sydney Helt, SCE, 20:24; 8, Karlee Philips, SCE, 20:33; 9, Lillian Garay, SCN, 20:34; 10, Macy Gaskill, Urbandale, 20:35; 11, Katie Jensen, AC, 20:41; 12, Jessica Caraway, Waukee, 20:42; 13, Elizabeth Jordan, SCN, 20:42.62; 14, Haley Bach, LC, 20:46; 15, Katie Lammers, SCE, 20:49; 27, Moriah Heilesen, AL, 21:19; 30, Hayleigh VanderVelde, AL, 21:57; 33, Natalie Smith, LC, 22:18; 36, Jazmin Martinez, AL, 22:38; 37, Jasmine Ramos, TJ, 22:43; 38, Ava McNeal, LC, 22:46; 41, Elia Humlicek, LC, 22:51; 43, Olivia Arkfeld, LC, 23:34; 44, Nora Preston, AL, 23:51; 45, Katie Harold, AL, 23:59; 47, Ashley Hipnar, AL, 24:18; 48, Emma Christianson, LC, 24:30; 49, Julia Slack, TJ, 24:45; 50, Clare Plummer, AL, 24:51; 51, Regan Gant, TJ, 24:57; 53, Mackenzie Harstad, TJ, 25:22; 55, Eleana Lemus, TJ, 25:31; 58, Athena Neville, TJ, 26:38; 62, Akaysha Cole, TJ, 27:29
Boys team results
1, Sioux City North; 2, Urbandale; 3, Waukee; 4, Ankeny Centennial; 5, Thomas Jefferson; 6, Lewis Central; 7, Sioux City East; 8, Abraham Lincoln; 9, Sioux City West
Boys individual results
1, Payton Marrs, Urbandale, 16:27; 2, Will Lohr, SCN, 16:38; 3, Wimach Gilo, TJ, 16:41; 4, Anthony Moran, Urbandale, 16:46; 5, Gabriel Vicker, AC, 16:56; 6, Kyle Ruby, Waukee, 17:01; 7, Beshanena Gutema, SCN, 17:02; 8, Juan Martinez, TJ, 17:02.43; 9, Aidan Booton, TJ, 17:03; 10, Ahmed Dido, SCN, 17:04; 11, Colin Greenwell, SCN, 17:05; 12, David Parks, Waukee, 17:08; 13, Connor Lancial, LC, 17:09; 14, Connor Cunningham, AC, 17:10; 15, Nate Jones, AC, 17:16; 17, Steven Hornberg, AL, 17:26; 27, Nathan Sell, LC, 17:56; 28, Caden Tellander, AL, 17:57; 33, Aiden Rudloff, LC, 18:23; 37, Cael Woltmann, LC, 18:40; 39, Gage Belt, TJ, 18:49; 40, Bryan Aguilera, TJ, 18:56; 44, Tyler Ruiz, LC, 19:13; 45, Hunter Ryba, TJ, 19:16; 46, Alex Aguilar, TJ, 19:18; 47, Tanner Higgins, LC, 19:26; 48, Ethan Leinen, AL, 19:31; 49, Josh Sell, LC, 19:35; 51, Lucas Fitch, AL, 19:42; 54, Aiden Keller, AL, 20:04; 56, Daxon Kindered, AL, 20:18; 58, Jude Ryan, AL, 21:03