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LYNX FACE FIELDS OF RANKED GIANTS AT BALLARD INVITE

Willson leads WCHS boys to 7th, Butz guides the girls to 11th in Class A

Webster City’s Cole Reiling (left) and Jose Ramirez (center) gives the thumbs up gesture, and Ballard’s Austin Shoen (right) gives the heart sign as all three coast down a hill on the backside of the course at the Ballard Golf and Country Club Monday evening. Shoen finished 34th in the Ballard Invite Class A boys’ race, Ramirez placed 35th and Reiling was right behind him in 36th. Webster City placed seventh as a team. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

HUXLEY — The best of the best cross country individuals and teams in central Iowa converged on the Ballard Golf and Country Club Monday evening, and there were plenty of fireworks despite the absence of fans lining the course.

Yearly one of the largest regular season meets in the state, Ballard opted to restrict fan attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic and, boy, did they miss out.

In the larger of the two classes, five of the top 13 boys’ teams in Class 3A competed, including top-ranked and 2019 state champion Dallas Center-Grimes and No. 3 North Polk. The girls’ field included No. 1 Ballard and No. 2 Dallas Center-Grimes, who went 1-2 at state last fall.

Webster City also competed and the Lynx knew they were facing uphill battles prior to race time.

“It’s always a tough field and this year is especially tough,” Jacob Willson, who led the WCHS boys with a 22nd-place finish, said. “It was definitely a fast start. On this course, you almost feel like you have to go out fast, otherwise you get pushed back and then you’ve got to try to work yourself back up the whole race.”

Allison Oswald (right) is still able to laugh post-race as she gets assistance from WCHS manager Ella Hansen on Monday in Huxley. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Willson guided the Lynx to a seventh-place finish with 192 points in the field of 11 teams. Dallas Center-Grimes had three runners in the top nine and notched 45 points to claim the team title by 15 points over North Polk (60).

The WCHS girls’ team tallied 338 points and was 11th out of the 12 competing teams. Ballard lived up to the pre-race favorite tag and won with 39 points, 11 ahead of Dallas Center-Grimes (51).

The boys’ race featured a state-meet preview up front between 2019 gold medalist Nate Mueller of ADM and silver medalist Quinton Orr of Humboldt. But Orr was able to reverse last fall’s outcome, as he put the hammer down with 1,000 meters to go and left Mueller in the distance. Orr crossed in 15:42.3 to win, while Mueller eased off down the homestretch and crossed in 16:04.8 to finish second.

The tough terrain, fast pace and heat took a tole on the Lynx, who were off their times from last week’s Go-Hawk Classic in Waverly, but that didn’t bother head coach Derek Turner.

“It was not our best race time wise, but it’s a totally different course than last week,” he said. “It’s a tough meet and it was good to have the competition.”

Webster City’s Wyatt Bingham leads a group of runners down a narrow path at Monday’s Ballard Invite in Huxley. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Willson maintained his front-runner status on the team, but he admitted to laboring throughout the 5K. He crossed in 18:31.7.

“I felt like I went out right for the first 400 (meters) and was right where I wanted to be, but I just couldn’t hold on,” Willson said. “I don’t like the heat and I guess the rest of our team doesn’t either.”

Matt Perin, Jose Ramirez and Cole Reiling all ran in lockstep throughout the race. Perin had a little more juice over the final 500 meters and finished in 18:51.1 to place 32nd. Ramirez was 35th in 18:56.9, and Reiling was right behind in 36th with a time of 18:58.4.

“I was pleased one through four,” Turner said. “They run so much better when they can do that together.”

The goal moving forward will be to try to get the fifth and final scoring runner closer to the front pack. Wyatt Bingham held down that position on Monday; he was 67th in 20:53.0.

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

“There’s not one secret ingredient, but experience is the best thing I think,” Turner said. “We have the potential to have a good fifth runner, they just have to believe in themselves.”

Kaelyn Butz took the lead for the WCHS girls’ team, as she moved in front of teammate Emma Peck midway through and sprinted through the finish line to place 55th in 23:57.6. Peck was a ways back in 63rd with a time of 24:31.8, and Jacie Crutcher completed the top three in 67th at the 25:24.3 mark.

“Was it our best day? Probably not, but we’re OK with that right now,” Turner said of his girls’ team. “None of those top three are where they can be at the end of the season. They have high hopes.”

Allison Oswald battled through hip pain and managed to complete the course in 27:22.5 to place 75th. Carly Appel (31:58.0) and Brynna Croy (32:30.0) were 78th and 79th, respectively.

Top-ranked Ainsley Erzen of Carlisle out-kicked second-ranked Paityn Noe of Ballard down the stretch to win in 18:28.0. Noe clocked in at 18:30.7.

Webster City’s Jacob Willson (right) heads up a small incline with just under 1,000 meters remaining at Monday’s Ballard Invite in Huxley. He placed 22nd. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Erzen is coached by WCHS graduate Morgan (Moline) Singleton.

Ballard Invite

Monday at Huxley

GIRLS RESULTS

Team Standings (Class A)

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

1. Ballard 39; 2. Dallas Center-Grimes 51; 3. North Polk 108; 4. Carlisle 115; 5. Gilbert 144; 6. Winterset 152; 7. Johnston JV 168; 8. ADM 175; 9. Bondurant-Farrar 238; 10. Humboldt 280; 11. Webster City 338; 12. Boone 364.

Individual Top 10

1. Ainsley Erzen (CAR) 18:28.0; 2. Paityn Noe (BAL) 18:30.7; 3. Geneva Timmerman (ADM) 19:27.2; 4. Shewaye Johnson (BAL) 19:32.1; 5. Megan Sterbenz (DCG) 20:13.3; 6. Tessa Erzen (CAR); 7. Kami Smith (DCG) 21:10.4; 8. Hannah Little (DCG) 21:22.8; 9. Aleah McBee (NP) 21:31.3; 10. Caitlin Maher (BA) 21:38.1.

Webster City Results

55. Kaelyn Butz 23:57.6; 63. Emma Peck 24:31.8; 67. Jacie Crutcher 25:24.3; 75. Allison Oswald 27:22.5; 78. Carly Appel 31:58.0; 79. Brynna Croy 32:30.0.

BOYS RESULTS

Team Standings (Class A)

1. Dallas Center-Grimes 45; 2. North Polk 60; 3. Carlisle 80; 4. ADM 82; 5. Humboldt 98; 6. Gilbert 166; 7. Webster City 192; 8. Winterset 205; 9. Bondurant-Farrar 228; 10. Ballard 255; 11. Boone 291.

Individual Top 10

1. Quinton Orr (HUM) 15:42.3; 2. Nate Mueller (ADM) 16:04.8; 3. Aidan Ramsey (DCG) 16:24.5; 4. Jacob Ewers (DCG) 17:05.7; 5. Zach Sporaa (NP) 17:06.9; 6. Tate McDermott (DCG) 17:17.8; 7. Eric Wittrock (HUM) 17:23.8; 8. Max Sporaa (NP) 17:28.1; 9. Jack Every (DCG) 17:50.5; 10. Cooper Greenslade (ADM) 17:51.5.

Webster City Results

22. Jacob Willson 18:31.7; 32. Matt Perin 18:51.1; 35. Jose Ramirez 18:56.9. 36. Cole Reiling 18:58.4; 67. Wyatt Bingham 20:53.0; 68. Reece Sadler 20:59.7; 74. Codey Berg 21:45.5.

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