Spectators watching the girls compete at the 50th running of the Abraham Lincoln Invitational cross country meet Saturday at Iowa Western were treated to two of the best teams in the state of Iowa, albeit in different classes.
Clearly the class of the field, 14 of the first 22 finishers were either wearing the yellow and black of Southeast Polk, or the red and black of Harlan.
Southeast Polk, ranked second in Class 4-A and the defending state champions, had four of the top five finishers and saw all seven of their runners finish in the top 20, scoring just 26 points to earn the team title. 2018 state runner-up Mattison Plummer was the only finisher under 20 minutes, topping teammate Magda McGowan by nearly 30 seconds.
Harlan, ranked fourth in Class 3-A, had four runners in the top 10 and all seven runners in the top 22 as the Cyclones scored 41 points to take second. Lucy Borkowski led all Harlan runners with a third-place finish.
Class 3-A No. 14 Glenwood was a distant third with 90 points. The Rams had the top finisher who wasn’t from SEP or Harlan when Rachel Mullennax crossed the line in seventh.
Lewis Central junior Haley Bach was the top city finisher in eighth place with a time of 21:30.
“Haley is just a workhorse,” L.C. coach Taylor May said. “She pushes the boys in practice. To have her get eighth place here in this loaded field, that’s very impressive.”
Titan Natalie Smith rounded out the top 30 with a time of 23:42.40.
St. Albert freshman Carly McKeever continued her early-season success with a 25th place finish in 22:46.
Abraham Lincoln was paced by senior Moriah Heilesen who finished 27th in 23:05. The Lynx had to run through adversity, as their top runner Paige Bracker did not finish after injuring her foot (the same foot she broke last year at Shenandoah), and No. 2 runner Hayleigh VanderVelde also came off the course with a foot injury. AL was already without freshman Jazmin Martinez who finished 26th last week at Glenwood.
“Obviously things didn’t go the way we wanted, but sometimes you run into adversity and it’s about how you react to it,” A.L. coach Traci Stoop said. “Moriah is such a great leader for us. She’s willing to step up when needed.”
Thomas Jefferson senior Suzie Miller led her squad, finishing 31st with a time of 23:44.
“Suzie really ran with determination today,” T.J. coach Doug Muehlig said.
Muehlig also commended the work of sophomore Mackenzie Harstad who finished 37th as the second runner for T.J.; the first time she has been the second Jacket finisher as a varsity runner. Muehlig said he has been trying to get his girls team to believe.
“I’m trying to get that in their head,” he said, “and today she (Harstad) believed.”
Harlan, who won the Glenwood meet a week ago, will be back at Iowa Western next Saturday for the Lewis Central Invitation which will include all of the city schools and other local teams.
Team Scores: 1, Southeast Polk 26; 2, Harlan 41; 3, Glenwood 90; 4, Sergeant-Bluff Luton 126; 5, LeMars 135; 6, Lewis Central 161; 7, Abraham Lincoln 212; 8, Thomas Jefferson 214; 9, Denison-Schleswig 224
Individual top 20: 1, Mattison Plummer, SEP, 19:50; 2, Magda McGowan, SEP, 20:20; 3, Lucy Borkowski, Harlan, 20:26, 4, Jenna Francois, SEP, 20:35, 5, Grace Larkins, SEP, 20:56, 6, Kaia Bieker, Harlan, 21:10; 7, Rachel Mullennax, Glenwood, 21:24; 8, Haley Bach, Lewis Central, 21:30; 9, Abby Alberti, Harlan, 21:31; 10, Liv Freund, Harlan, 21:32; 11, Erin Schultz, Glenwood, 21:32; 12, Chloe Calhoun, LeMars, 21:33; 13, Abi Albertson, Harlan, 21:36; 14, Jacie Mitchell, SEP, 21:39; 15, Natalie Clement, SEP, 21:43; 16, Brecken VanBaale, Harlan, 21:45; 17, Halle Brester, SBL, 21:52; 18, Claire Miller, Denison-Schleswig, 21:53; 19, Tarryn Hill, SEP, 21:59; 20, Emma Hughes, Glenwood, 22:16.
Abraham Lincoln: 27, Moriah Heilesen, 23:05; 44, Katie Harold, 24:34; 48, Claire Plummer, 25:12; 49, Nora Preston, 25:13; 52, Jaycie Hasbrouck, 25:43.80
Lewis Central: 8, Haley Bach, 21:30; 30, Natalie Smith, 23:42; 36, Ava McNeal, 23:57; 46, Emma Christianson, 24:44; 47, Ella Humlicek, 24:52; 54, Olivia Arkfeld, 26:00.
St. Albert: 25, Carly McKeever, 22:46; 62, Mallory Daley, 28:06.
Thomas Jefferson: 31, Suzie Miller, 23:44; 37, Mackenzie Harstad, 24:00; 40, Jasmine Ramos, 24:10; 56, Regan Gant, 26:32; 57, Akaysha Cole, 26:32; 59, Julia Slack, 26:45; 61, Jackie Moreno, 27:06.