Licea breaks own school record, Hawk girls 7th at HOIC

Thre SH rookies continue to lead team

Hawks’ freshman Yolanda Licea climbs a small hill during the girls’ 5K race on Monday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

JEWELL — With bright — and we’re talking really, really bright — red hair bouncing in the wind with each stride, it wasn’t difficult to pick South Hamilton freshman Yolanda Licea out of the crowd of 119 runners at Monday’s Heart of Iowa Conference meet.

At the rate she’s going, it won’t be too long before it’s Licea’s budding talent that makes her stand out.

The temperature dropped, the wind whipped and the competition was fierce at the Jewell Golf and Country Club, but Licea still managed to lower her girls’ 5K school-record clocking for a third time in the past two weeks.

Taking it out strong from the gun, Licea fought the elements and gutted out a time of 22:35 to break her previous record by five seconds. She still remains the only South Hamilton female to complete a 5K in under 23 minutes.

“I think she just wants to lower it every time with the way she runs,” South Hamilton head coach Darrell Paulsen said. “She was hustling down the straightaway.”

South Hamilton freshman Abby Ervin grimaces just a few steps from the finish line as a large crowd surrounds the final straightaway at Monday’s Heart of Iowa Conference meet in Jewell. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

The goal was to crack the top 14 and earn one of the coveted all-conference slots. But with North Polk and Gilbert hoarding nine of the top-10 spots, it wasn’t in the cards for Licea. She settled for 19th place.

North Polk, ranked third (Class 3A), fended off seventh-ranked (3A) Gilbert by three points, 28-31, to hoist the conference championship trophy. Prairie City-Monroe was a distant third with 104 points.

South Hamilton was seventh in the field of eight teams with 172 points.

North Polk’s Amelia Lesher paced the field throughout the 3.1-mile excursion and seized the individual title in 20:00. Gilbert’s trio of Maggie Pollard (20:24), Emily Branson (20:30) and Allison Weiler (20:39) took the next three places. North Polk’s Sophie Blanchard (20:50) rounded out the top five.

PCM’s Baylee Smith (21:45) was 10th, spoiling the Comets’ and Tigers’ bids of controlling the entire top 10.

South Hamilton’s Ella Carlson battles the course alone during Monday’s HOIC meet in Jewell. She placed 50th in the girls’ 5K. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

“With North Polk and Gilbert taking up most of the top 14 spots, it’s kind of hard to get anyone in,” Paulsen said. “But we had some girls run well.”

South Hamilton has been led by its freshman trio all season and that continued on Monday. Rookies Marissa Jensen (23:41) and Abby Ervin (24:05) put together strong races and placed 29th and 31st, respectively.

Paulsen remained upbeat about his rookies and says they’ve only cracked the surface on what is possible in the future.

“They’ve been there all year and they’ve held their own against some pretty good competition,” he said. “I know those three will put some time in from here until next season and they can all get better as they get stronger.”

Emily Willadsen (26:10) gave South Hamilton a 45th-place performance and Hayley Bell (27:03) completed the scoring team in the 48th position.

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

South Hamilton will now have time to rest and heal several injuries before next Thursday’s 2A State Qualifying Meet at Dike. Paulsen is hopeful Natalie Johnson will be able to return to the lineup for the first time since early in the season. He also believes his freshmen will have viable opportunities to compete for spots in the state meet.

“Our goal is to get either the team or possibly one of (the freshmen) to state,” he said. “I think they have a good shot if we have a good week of practice.”


Team Standings

1. North Polk 28; 2. Gilbert 31; 3. Prairie City-Monroe 109; 4. Roland-Story 117; 5. Nevada 119; 6. Greene County 151; 7. South Hamilton 172; 8. Saydel 238.

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Individual All-HOIC (Top 14)

1. Amelia Lesher (NP) 20:00; 2. Maggie Pollard (GIL) 20:24; 3. Emily Branson (GIL) 20:30; 4. Allison Weiler (GIL) 20:39; 5. Sophie Blanchard (NP) 20:50; 6. Emily Paterson (NP) 21:08; 7. Kennedy Wendel (NP) 21:23; 8. Hannah Thatcher (GIL) 21:24; 9. Abi Zimmer (NP) 21:45; 10. Baylee Smith (PCM) 21:45; 11. Kylie Tjernagel (R-S) 21:56; 12. Kirstin Ives (PCM) 21:57; 13. Kaitlyn Kilstofte (R-S) 22:00; 14. Livvy Hampton (GIL) 22:06.

South Hamilton Results

19. Yolanda Licea 22:35; 29. Marissa Jensen 23:41; 31. Abby Ervin 24:05; 45. Emily Willadsen 26:10; 48. Hayley Bell 27:03; 50. Ella Carlson 28:10; 52. Brookelyn George 29:24.