Underclassmen take over Lynx Invite; Peck takes lead for WCHS, Doolittle for SH
BY TROY BANNING
WEBSTER CITY — Cross country is somewhat unique in that it’s not uncommon to see underclassmen rule the roost.
That was certainly the case at Tuesday’s Lynx Invitational.
Freshmen and sophomores occupied 10 of the top 14 times in the girls’ race at Briggs Woods Golf Course, and Webster City and South Hamilton were both led by sophomores over the rolling hills and challenging terrain.
Youthful Roland-Story placed four runners in the top 11, three of which were freshman, en route to a comfortable cushion on the rest of the 11-team field. The Norsemen compiled 33 points to easily distance themselves from runner-up and former Heart of Iowa Conference rival North Polk (66). Tenth-ranked (Class 1A) Fort Dodge St. Edmond (68) was right on the Comets’ heels in third.
South Hamilton (214) fit into the eight-place slot, one spot in front of ninth-place WCHS (224). The Hawks had a full seven-runner roster, while the Lynx went with the minimum five competitors.
And both area head coaches — Derek Turner from WCHS and Emily Bochmann from South Hamilton — said the season opener was a solid start.
“Our expectations are to improve each race,” Turner said. “The top end of our lineup, there’s no reason they can’t be battling for top 15 or top 20 spots at (the North Central Conference meet).”
“It was a little bit of a learning curve on a newer and tougher course than in past years,” Bochmann said. “I saw some really nice packs from our girls.”
After a lengthy stay at the flatter Links golf course, the meet transitioned to Briggs Woods for the first time in a number of years. Runners were greeted with a steep hill to navigate less than a half-mile from the starting line, as well as another healthy incline as they all chugged toward the finish line.
“Times from last year to this year, you just throw them out the window,” Turner said.
Emma Peck seized the team lead for WCHS, and Paige Doolittle guided South Hamilton around the course. Peck crossed the finish line in 26th place with a time of 23:48, more than a minute ahead of her closest teammate. Doolittle came across nearly a minute later in 24:42, good enough for 37th.
“Emma had a really good first mile,” Turner said. “She’s not used to being that front runner for us, so that was undiscovered territory for us.”
“Paige ran very well,” Bochmann said. “I was very excited for her, watching her surge toward the front when the rest of the girls were starting to fade back a little bit.”
Bochmann felt her squad let the race slip away a bit due to a first mile in which the Hawks pushed the pace.
“All of them went out a little too hard,” she said. “Their first mile was where I’d hoped it would be, but we just need to work on bringing our second mile into our third mile.”
Jacie Crutcher and Kaelyn Butz crossed the finish line within a few steps of one another for WCHS. Crutcher was 42nd in 25:03, with Butz 44th in 25:04. But it was more than three minutes later when Allison Oswald (28:17) crossed in 72nd, and Carly Appel (29:46, 77th) rounded out the team.
“Jacie and Kaelyn both had a decent race,” Turner said. “Allison and Carly are banged up a little bit right now.”
Marissa Jensen (25:17, 46th) and Anna Lammers (25:38, 48th) both broke 26 minutes for South Hamilton. Abby Ervin (26:02, 52nd) just missed that benchmark in her first competitive race since she tore an ACL last winter during the basketball season.
Ervin has served as South Hamilton’s team leader throughout her career and Bochmann says she will continue to be a work in progress in her return from the injury.
“She was a little bit sore coming up that last hill into the finish, and she was a little nervous with all the downhills,” Bochmann said of Ervin. “It was not the time she was hoping for, but she knows it’s a work in progress and she’s getting there.”
Chandler George (26:34, 59th) completed South Hamilton’s scoring team.
Hampton-Dumont/CAL freshman Lydia Maas steadily moved up throughout the final two miles to claim the individual title in 20:25. Roland-Story’s Reece Johnson (21:17) was the runner up, 10 seconds ahead of bronze medalist Aubrey Bemrich (21:27) of St. Edmond.
Tuesday at Briggs Woods GC
1. Roland-Story 39; 2. North Polk 66; 3. St. Edmond 68; 4. Algona 118; 5. Manson-Northwest Webster 133; 6. Humboldt 146; 7. Fort Dodge Senior 211; 8. South Hamilton 214; 9. Webster City 224; 10. Southeast Valley 265; 11. Boone 278.
Individual Top 10
1. Lydia Maas (HDC) 20:25; 2. Reece Johnson (RS) 21:17; 3. Aubrey Bemrich (SE) 21:27; 4. Maddie Moline (MAN) 21:35; 5. Elizabeth Ihle (RS) 21:39; 6. Moriah Knapp (AL) 22:11; 7. Abby Bell (NP) 22:20; 8. Aleah McBee (NP) 22:29; 9. Moriah Bates (RS) 22:35; 10. Michaela Leiting (SE) 22:46.
Webster City Results
26. Emma Peck 23:48; 42. Jacie Crutcher 25:03; 44. Kaelyn Butz 25:04; 72. Allison Oswald 28:17; 77. Carly Appel 29:46.
South Hamilton Results
37. Paige Doolittle 24:42; 46. Marissa Jensen 25:17; 48. Anna Lammers 25:38; 52. Abby Ervin 26:02; 59. Chandler George 26:34; 69. Paige Seaton 27:52; 76. Valerie Wagner 29:34.