Lynx, Hawks finish out of girls’ title hunt

WEBSTER CITY – Bryce Gidel could have stopped 100 meters from the finish line, grabbed a quick bite to eat and chatted with a few friends before taking off again and she still would have won gold at Tuesday’s Lynx Invite.

The Humboldt freshman was just that dominant. And so was her team.

Behind Gidel’s meet-record time of 19:40.17, the ninth-ranked (Class 3A) Wildcats had no trouble claiming the team title for the third consecutive season on the rolling hills at The Links. They finished with just 42 points, a 30-point margin in front of runner-up and fourth-ranked (1A) Fort Dodge St. Edmond (72 points). Algona (79) challenged for silver; Boone (156) and Roland-Story (158) were a distant fourth and fifth.

With its leader Haley Johnson falling out of the race because of injury midway through the 5K, Webster City had little margin for error the remainder of the way. The Lynx had to settle for sixth with 169 points.

South Hamilton was back in 10th with 229.

But it was Gidel’s day in the spotlight. The talented rookie vaulted to the front of the field as the 78 runners chugged up the first incline and she confidently increased her lead with each step.

Running by herself, Gidel put a gap of 1:08 between herself and teammate Gabby Kent (20:48.04), who finished comfortably in second. To put Gidel’s performance into perspective, her time was faster than 60 of the boys than ran in the varsity race that immediately followed.

“She’s something, isn’t she,” WCHS head coach Joe Lambert said of Gidel.

Humboldt and St. Edmond owned six of the top-10 spots on the individual leaderboard.

Considering WCHS was down to just five entrants, all of whom were forced to score, after Johnson’s exit because of a lingering ankle issue that stunted her preseason training, Lambert was satisfied with his team’s showing. Johnson was the clear team front runner before the sharp pain proved to be too much.

“The girls did exceptionally well and I’m really hoping that Haley’s foot isn’t something that will keep her out of races,” Lambert said. “They ran their races.”

Emma Piper, who recently moved into the district from Winterset, ran with teammates Larae Ebrecht and Kaitlyn Wagner throughout the first mile before she picked up the pace. Exhausted by the time she reached the homestretch, Piper managed to sprint to the end and place 13th in 23:09.90.

Ebrecht, competing for the first time this season, wasn’t far behind in 18th with a clocking of 23:30.83. Wagner (25:15.91) maintained her even pace over the final two miles and wound up in 33rd.

Mariana Garcia (27:41.87) placed 56th in her first varsity outing, and Haley Flaws (27:59.69) continued her recovery from her own leg injury with a 58th-place showing.

Katie Austin (25:01.38) was the top South Hamilton runner for the second consecutive meet. After missing most of last season with a hip injury, she shaved close to a minute off her time from last week’s Gilbert Early Bird and placed 31st.

“Having her back is a plus for us and it’s good for her, too,” South Hamilton head coach Darrell Paulsen said of Austin. “She really committed herself to come back this year.”

Natalie Johnson (26:26.27, 43rd), Ella Carlson (26:38.92, 48th), Annie Johnson (27:42.27, 57th) and Emily Willadson (28:11.24, 61st) completed the Hawks’ scoring team.

“I think the girls ran well … they had better times than they did last week,” Paulsen said.