No. 5 Hawks go in search of top-5 finish at state XC meet

Big 3 Peters, Brown and Grove use desire to beat each other on course at all times; boys’ Class 2A?race set for 1:30 p.m. on Saturday

Running for fifth-ranked (Class 2A) South Hamilton at the state cross country meet will be (left to right) Aaron Hegland, Logan Austin, Josiah Brown, Logan Peters, Quinton Grove, Ty Skartvedt and Clay Willadsen. The Hawks will run at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at Lakeside Golf Course on the outskirts of Fort Dodge. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

JEWELL — The question hung in the air as South Hamilton’s Big Three shifted their gazes from one another, but it wasn’t long before the smiles came out and the smack talk began.

“On a scale of one to 10, beating Logan (Peters) is a 10 and I’m pretty sure Quinton (Grove) feels the same way,” South Hamilton senior Josiah Brown answered when he was asked how much he wanted to beat his own teammates every time he stepped onto the course.

“Oh yeah. Definitely,” Grove quickly chimed in.

Peters, a junior and the de facto leader of the group, only smirked. But he couldn’t disagree with his teammates.

“It’s a 10 because it’s a competition,” Peters said. “We all want to be the best on the team.”

South Hamilton veterans Josiah Brown, Quinton Grove and Logan Peters pose prior to the start of the season back in August. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

It’s that friendly competition and drive to be the best that have propelled the South Hamilton boys’ cross country team into one of the elite teams in Class 2A. The Hawks will get their chance to prove their merits on Saturday when they head to the state meet at Lakeside Golf Course on the outskirts of Fort Dodge.

The state meet will get underway with the girls’ 4A race at 11 a.m. The boys’ 2A battle will go off at 1:30 p.m.

But who is the best among the three Hawks? Honestly, there is no correct answer. Peters was the top finisher in five of the team’s 10 meets, while Grove took the lead in three and Brown two. Brown owns the team’s only individual meet title –a big kick over the final 1,200 meters gave him the gold at the West Marshall Invite — and Grove was twice a meet runner-up, missing out on the Lynx Invite crown by a half-step in Webster City.

All three finished in the top 10 at eight meets,while a ninth saw two of them reach that standard. Only once, at the 4A-laden Steven Johnson Invitational hosted by Wartburg College in Waverly, did they fail to crack the top 10.

What does all of that mean? Well, for starters, the trio gives South Hamilton a solid base heading into Saturday’s state spectacle. It will be the third state race for Brown and Peters, and the second for Grove, who is a sophomore. The competition will no doubt be fierce, but that intrasquad battle will give the Hawks added fire.

Aaron Hegland (left) and Ty Skartvedt run together for South Hamilton at the West Marshall Invite. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

“They do like beating each other … it puts fuel on the fire for them to beat the other guy the next time,” South Hamilton head coach Darrell Paulsen said. “Take Logan, he just hates to get beat and he just says it won’t happen next time. His philosophy is it isn’t going to happen twice in a row.”

Brown was the top finisher at last week’s State Qualifying Meet and he says he’s taking a now or never approach to his final prep meet.

“I just want to go out there and run my butt off,” he said. “It may not be my fastest race, but I want it to be the race where I felt like I gave it more than I ever have, and that’s where chasing down Logan comes in. Having these two guys, it’s great to pace yourself. Hopefully in that last mile I can give it everything I have.”

Completing South Hamilton’s squad on Saturday will be state meet rookies Ty Skartvedt, Aaron Hegland, Logan Austin and Clay Willadsen. Skartvedt and Hegland have consistently been the Hawks’ Nos. 4 and 5 runners and how they run could hold the key to the Hawks’ chances of cracking the top five.

Controlling the nerves of the first-timers will be paramount.

Logan Austin climbs a small incline during the West Marshall Invite in State Center earlier this season. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

“Since the three of us have run there, we can give them some input on how to run that race,” Peters said. “We want them to treat it like it’s any other meet and not worry about how everyone else is doing.”

Said Brown: “Honestly, I think Ty and Aaron are ready for the race.”

The 2A field is loaded with talent, led by top-ranked and defending state champion Mid-Prairie, which returns five runners off its 2016 team. No. 2 Central Lyon/George-Little Rock returns all seven runners from last year’s fourth-place team, and No. 3 Garner-Hayfield/Ventura possesses the odds on favorite to claim the individual title in junior Reece Smith.

GHV beat South Hamilton by six points at the state qualifier in Dike. Paulsen would like to see a similar performance by his team on Saturday.

“We just have to go out and run our best race of the year,” he said. “I know that we ran really well at (the state qualifier) and I’m just hoping we have one more race in us.”

Clay Willadsen races for the finish line at the HOIC meet in Jewell. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Peters led the team in each of the past two state meets. He was 39th as a freshman and 33rd as a sophomore. His goal is a top-15 finish and to do that he’ll likely have to run below 17 minutes, something he did at the Nevada Invite earlier this fall. He’s the only Hawk to break the barrier.

Grove was 51st a year ago, while Brown took 54th. Grove dealt with health issues midway through the season, but he says he’s back to full strength.

“I feel like I’m back to 100 percent,” he said. “Individually, my goal is the top 30 and after I’m done, I want to feel like I’ve given it everything I have.”

AT A GLANCE

What: 2017 state cross country meet.

When: Saturday

Where: Lakeside Golf Course, Fort Dodge

Schedule: 4A girls at 11 a.m., 4A boys at 11:30 a.m., 3A girls at noon, 3A boys at 12:30 p.m., 2A girls at 1 p.m., 2A boys at 1:30 p.m., 1A girls at 2 p.m., 1A boys at 2:30 p.m.

Class 2A Boys Outlook

The Field (Ranking)

(1) Mid-Prairie; (2) Central Lyon/George-Little Rock; (3) Garner-Hayfield/Ventura; (4) Tipton; (5) South Hamilton; (6) Sioux Center; (7) Sheldon; (8) Okoboji; (9) Aplington-Parkersburg; (10) Des Moines Christian; (11) Williamsburg; (12) South Hardin; (13) Unity Christian; (14) Monticello; (15) East Marshall.

Returning Qualifiers

(2016 Place)

Mid-Prairie (1st), Unity Christian (2nd), Central Lyon/George-Little Rock (4th), Garner-Hayfield/Ventura (5th), South Hamilton (6th), East Marshall (9th), Aplington-Parkersburg (10th), Tipton (11th), Monticello (15th).

Individual Leaders (2016 Place)

Reece Smith, GHV (2nd); Gable Sieperda, CL/GLR (3rd); Spencer Moon, SC Calhoun (4th); Mason Tyler, A-P (5th); Joe Anderson, CL/GLR (6th); Joseph Schoonhoven, Un. Christian (9th).

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