WEBSTER CITY - A staple in the Class 2A rankings all season, the South Hamilton girls' cross country team will try to live up to the esteem on Thursday when it takes part in a State Qualifying Meet at the ISU course in Ames.
The girls' 4-kilometer race is scheduled to go off at 4 p.m. The boys' race will follow at 4:30 p.m.
The top three teams and top 10 individuals in each of the races will push on to the state meet, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 27, at Lakeside Golf Course near Fort Dodge.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
South Hamilton sophomore Kayla Lucas leads a group of runners at last week’s HOIC meet in Ames. Lucas ran sick at the meet, but is now healthy for this week’s 2A State Qualifying Meet.
The Hawk girls, who moved up to No. 8 in the latest rankings following their runner-up finish to No. 3 Gilbert at last week's Heart of Iowa Conference meet, are expected to be in the thick of the race for a ticket to state. Gilbert will be the favorite on Thursday, and No. 10 Roland-Story is also in the field.
"We just need to go out and do what we've done all year and let the cards fall where they're going to fall," South Hamilton head coach Darrell Paulsen said. "We've run against 75 percent of the teams there and we know what we have to do."
It helps that South Hamilton has already tackled the challenging ISU course twice, including at last week's HOIC.
What - Class 2A State Qualifying Meet
When - Thursday, 4 p.m.
Where - ISU course, Ames
The Field - Aplington-Parkersburg, Bondurant-Farrar, Central Springs, Clarion-Goldfield, East Marshall, Forest City, Gilbert, Hampton-Dumont, Madrid, North Iowa (boys only), Osage, Roland-Story, South Hamilton, South Hardin, West Marshall.
Ranked teams - Girls: 3. Gilbert; 8. South Hamilton; 10. Roland-Story. Boys: 4. Gilbert; 9. North Iowa; 11. Osage.
Ranked individuals - Girls: 6. Sadie Timms (Jr.), Gilbert; 7. Lydia Rose (Fr.), South Hardin; 14. Sarah Lunn (Jr.), Roland-Story; 24. Eden DeWald (So.), Roland-Story; 30. Karli Rastetter (So.), Gilbert. Boys: 3. Thomas Pollard (So.), Gilbert; 10. Wesley Greder (So.), Gilbert; 11. Tyler Randall (Jr.), Osage; 26. Nathan Bradley (Sr.), West Marshall; 27. Alan Perry (Sr.), Bondurant-Farrar.
"I think it does give us a little bit of an advantage," Paulsen said. "The kids have been racing on this course since they were in middle school. They know the layout and they know when to go."
The Hawks' lineup will consist of Kayla Lucas, Allyson Ervin, Rachael Huegerich, Meghan Fisher, Kali Lucas, Jessica Zoske and Sidney Alsager.
Kayla Lucas has led the team throughout the season. She dealt with a lingering cold over the final two weeks of the regular season and it had an effect on her performance, but Paulsen says she's back at 100 percent.
"Kayla is healthy and she's ready to go," Paulsen said. "I think she's a little bit nervous, but that's OK."
The South Hamilton boys' team will be a long shot to qualify for state, as it must jump over at least one ranked team to reach the top three.
No. 4-ranked Gilbert, No. 9 North Iowa and No. 11 Osage will all be on the 5K course on Thursday.
"It's going to be tough," Paulsen said.
Sophomore Jacob Heeren would appear to have the best shot to give the Hawks a spot at state. He's consistently lowered his time throughout the season and was a top 10 finisher at last week's league meet.
"I think Jacob has a good shot," Paulsen said. "If he goes out and runs his race, I think he has a chance. But if he's hesitant and goes out slow, then he doesn't have a chance. So I think he knows what he has to do."