No. 5 Hawks win Class 2A qualifier, state bound

ATLANTIC – Title No. 7 on the season was a memorable one for the fifth-ranked South Hamilton boys’ cross country team, as it pushed the group back to next weekend’s state meet.

As expected, the Hawks dominated yesterday’s Class 2A State Qualifying Meet on the difficult Atlantic Golf and Country Club course. They put two runners inside the top 10 and all five scorers were among the first 17 runners to cross.

“We ran a really good race on a tough course, and (the boys) are elated,” South Hamilton head coach Darrell Paulsen said after the Hawks notched 56 points to handle runner-up Ogden (83) by 27 points. “Everybody gutted it out and that’s exciting.”

Eighth in the 1A state-meet field a season ago, South Hamilton will head to Lakeside Golf Course outside of Fort Dodge next Saturday with high expectations.

“We’re expecting to run really well,” Paulsen said.

Logan Peters altered his normal strategy somewhat and hung back early on. The move paid off, as he cruised to a fifth-place finish in 17:24.15. Teammate Quinton Grove took seventh in 17:45.65 after winning a foot race with Roland-Story’s Dakota Rusher down the homestretch. Josiah Brown just missed the top 10; he settled for 11th in 18:01.18.

Paulsen was particularly pleased with Gaige Pickering, who continued to show positive signs after returning from injury. He vaulted past teammate Devon Fisher and into 16th in 18:19.93. Fisher was 17th in 18:23.78.

“Josiah ran a really good race and Gaige looked back to about 90 percent and looked really good,” Paulsen said.

The South Hamilton girls’ team had arguably its best run of the season en route to eighth place with 182 points. Shenandoah-Essex was the girls’ champion with 27 points.

Natalie Johnson (25:09.06) caught and passed teammate Katie Austin (25:09.46), and they ran through in 30th and 31st place, respectively. Hayley Bell (25:42.65) gave the Hawks three girls under 26 minutes; she finished 39th.