AMES - Allyson Ervin didn't see it as us versus them; it was more like us versus us at yesterday's Heart of Iowa Conference meet.
The South Hamilton sophomore drew inspiration from beating teammates, not rivals as she trekked around the 4-kilometer terrain on a gusty evening at the ISU course, and you know what? It worked.
Ervin's internal motor propelled her to all-conference status for the first time and the 11th-ranked (Class 2A) Hawks bobbed and weaved their way through a brutal field that featured five ranked teams to finish in the runner-up position.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
South Hamilton sophomore Allyson Ervin (918) tries to chase down Roland-Story’s Cathy Narigon (880) just steps from the finish line at last night’s HOIC meet on the ISU course in Ames. Ervin finished 11th to earn all-conference honors and the No. 11 Hawks finished as the league runner-up behind No. 3 Gilbert.
South Hamilton, which was the lowest ranked team in the field, placed all five of its scorers among the top 25 in the toughest 2A conference in the state en route to 80 points - a 12-point gap over third-place finisher and No. 8-ranked CMB (92). No. 9 North Polk (95) was fourth and No. 10 Roland-Story (97) took fifth.
Third-ranked Gilbert was the Ferrari of the field; the Tigers had a meet-best three top-10 finishers and tallied 48 points to win the league championship with ease. Still, Hawks' head coach Darrell Paulsen found silver quite pleasing.
"It was a great day. I'm surprised, but we ran really well," he said. "Running in this conference is only going to help us when we get to districts next week."
1. Gilbert 48; 2. South Hamilton 80; 3. CMB 92; 4. North Polk 95; 5. Roland-Story 97; 6. Nevada 102; 7. Greene County 158; 8. Saydel 241; 9. Colfax-Mingo 254.
1. Sybbie Sears (NP) 15:59.58; 2. Sadie Timms (G) 16:09.92; 3. Annie Pollard (G) 16:28.01; 4. Elli Cassabaum (N) 16:30.59; 5. Karli Rastetter (G) 16:34.53; 6. Allison Higgins (GC) 16:36.89; 7. Hayley Leonard (CMB) 16:38.85; 8. Caitlin Dewell (N) 16:49.89; 9. Kayla Lucas (SH) 16:55.83; 10. Cathy Narigon (R-S) 16:57.42; 11. Allyson Ervin (SH) 16:58.35; 12. Eden DeWald (R-S) 17:01.10; 13. Anna Halstead (R-S) 17:01.97; 14. Paige Hoiberg (G) 17:05.41.
Other South Hamilton Results
15. Rachael Huegerich 17:06.93; 23. Meghan Fisher 17:39.99; 24. Kali Lucas 17:46.07; 36. Jessica Zoske 18:20.17; 48. Sidney Alsager 18:58.13.
Ervin, who moved up 31 spots from last year to 11th, used her long stride to fly by a slew of runners down the final half-mile straightaway. Teammate Rachael Huegerich was one of her victims, and that's exactly who Ervin was after.
"The only thing I was thinking was that I wanted to be second on our team and get my spot back that I've had most of the year," Ervin, who crossed the finish line in 16 minutes, 58.35 seconds, said. "Rachael got away from me for a little bit (in the middle of the race), so I just focused on trying to catch her again.
"I definitely depend on my kick because I know I can always push myself more."
Paulsen has first-hand knowledge of Ervin's competitive spirit and he said it was on display yesterday.
"She gets mad when other girls beat her," he said. "When she saw Rachael get ahead of her she probably thought, 'I've got to go.'"
Huegerich, just a freshman, didn't exactly slough off down the stretch. She pushed in front of several runners as well and grabbed 15th in 17:06.93, just one spot shy of snagging an all-conference medal.
"Rachael ran really well," Paulsen said. "That's her best time by 30 seconds, so that's great."
Sophomore Kayla Lucas simply went about her business of leading the Hawks again despite still feeling under the weather. Even with trouble breathing because of a lingering cold, she matched last year's ninth-place effort in 16:55.83.
"I think Kayla's still sick, so one of our main goals is to get her healthy over the next week," Paulsen said. "But she was still right there."
Meghan Fisher (17:39.99) and Kali Lucas (17:46.07) both picked off several runners with solid kicks over the final 200 meters to place 23rd and 24th, respectively. Only Gilbert joined the Hawks with five runners in the top 25.
"It's a tough conference," Ervin said. "Gilbert's really good, but I try not to think about that when I'm running."
Nine of the top 10 finishers will return next season, including gold medalist Sybbie Sears of North Polk, a junior. Sears stormed out to the front less than a half-mile into the race and never looked back, crossing the finish line in 15:59.58. She ended the two-year reign of Gilbert junior Sadie Timms, who was second in 16:09.92. Timms won the 2A state title last fall.