Yeah, they’re good

WEBSTER CITY – Aggressive and unrelenting, South Hamilton’s runners say with their legs what they probably want to say with their mouths but won’t: catch us if you can.

So far nobody has been up to that challenge.

With a fresh bull’s-eye painted on their chests thanks to a No. 7 ranking (Class 2A), the Hawks performed like the machine they are at The Links on Tuesday, as they won their second team title in as many outings at the Lynx Invite.

Expected to be in a dog fight with 11th-ranked (3A) Humboldt and several other formidable foes, South Hamilton showcased their talent and depth by placing three runners in the top 10, four inside the top 12 and all five of its scorers within the top 18.

“We wanted to win this and we knew we were capable and had the pieces to win,” South Hamilton sophomore and third-place finisher Logan Peters said after he led the crew to a 37-point victory over runner-up Fort Dodge, 49-86. “We knew that Humboldt had a pretty good team and we knew Webster City has some good kids, so we’re happy. We won five meets last year and our goal this year is to win more than five.”

So far, so good.

The real battle was for second, which Fort Dodge claimed by a point over Humboldt (87). Webster City (90) was in the thick of things as well and finished a fourth, just four points out of the runner-up slot.

“I can’t walk away from the meet any way but happy,” WCHS head coach Joe Lambert said. “It was really enjoyable to see us right there with Humboldt. I think Humboldt is expected to do exceptionally well over the course of the season, so when we’re only three points away this early on, I’m feeling like the boys are opening up a pretty good door to the rest of the season.”

Peters didn’t deviate from his usual script; he pushed the pace with the leaders early and remained in the top two for the better part of two miles. Southeast Valley’s Spencer Warehime eventually moved up from third to take the lead and win his second straight Lynx Invite crown with a time of 16:59.09.

Fort Dodge’s Ryan Wagner had a little more gas left in the tank as he and Peters hit the final 800 meters. Wagner earned silver in 17:13.37, with Peters turning in a bronze time of 17:25.17.

“I’ll take third against this field,” Peters said. “Spencer is a really good runner.”

Not far behind Peters was South Hamilton rookie Quinton Grove, who lost a foot race for fifth with Fort Dodge’s Jason Halvorson over the final 50 meters. Still, Grove wasn’t complaining with a sixth-place result and finishing time of 17:35.22.

“Overall I ran better (than in last week’s opener in Ames),” Grove said. “I was a lot more calm for this race and I went out and held my spot.”

Teammate Josiah Brown secured the final spot in the top 10 in 17:51.94. Devin Fisher (18:02.33) crossed two places later, and Gaige Pickering continued to perform despite a nagging groin injury to take 18th in 18:34.38.

“The guys went out and did what they needed to do,” South Hamilton head coach Darrell Paulsen said. “It’s exciting, and Gaige isn’t 100 percent. If he was he’d be running up there with the first three guys, so we’re going to give him a couple weeks off to rehab.”

While South Hamilton’s front four pushed the pace, Webster City’s leaders didn’t get caught up in the frenzy up front. Instead, they opted to stick to their strategy and it paid off with a second straight quality performance.

“Our plan is to pack run and we ran well,” WCHS junior Tyler Bultena, the team’s top finisher in 14th, said. “Our strategy was to keep our pace the whole time and just keep getting faster each kilometer.”

While teammate Dawson Hjelmeland challenged the front runners early, the trio of Bultena, John Piaszynski and Trey Nelson stuck together and gradually began to move up.

Bultena eventually caught Hjelmeland as they neared the finish line. Bultena’s 5K time was 18:08.03, just one second ahead of Hjelmeland’s 15th-place time of 18:09.07.

Piaszynski (18:30.29) hung on down the homestretch to settle into 17th, and Nelson (18:44.26) came in 14 seconds later in 21st.

Staying in stride with teammate Tucker Judkins for the majority of the race, Max Harfst (18:54.44) put together a strong closing kick to place 23rd. Judkins (19:27.90) was 34th.

“We practice with the idea that it’s now how fast you start the race, it’s how fast you finish it,” Lambert said. “Our guys steadily moved forward … our top four guys are proving themselves exceptionally reliable and Max put himself right there in the race.”