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RACE DAY

Lynx head to Waverly for state qualifier

WCHS senior Jacob Willson competes in the Ballard Invite last month in Huxley. He will run in today’s Class 3A state qualifier in Waverly. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

WEBSTER CITY — Jacob Willson logged more miles than he could count over the summer. Sweat, sweat and more sweat in the humidity, all with tunnel vision toward one goal — a spot in this fall’s state cross country meet.

And over the course of 5 kilometers — that’s right at 3.10686 miles — this afternoon, the Webster City senior will take his shot.

Willson will lead the WCHS boys’ squad into today’s Class 3A State Qualifying Meet on the Wartburg College course in Waverly, and the Lynx know the odds will be stacked against them. Awaiting them will be a deep field that features three top-10 teams, as well as eight of the top-30 ranked individuals in the state.

The first-, second- and third-place teams, as well as the first 15 individuals across the finish line, will all advance to next week’s state meet at Lakeside Golf Course in Fort Dodge.

WCHS head coach Derek Turner says his runners welcome the challenge. If the Lynx are good enough, they’ll advance. And if not, well, then it will be all about leaving everything they have on the course.

WCHS sophomore Emma Peck (above) has led the Lynx girls’ cross country team throughout the fall season. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

“Typically, if you’re good, you’re going to get in (to state),” Turner said. “So we’re really not worrying about which teams are there and if they’re ranked fourth or fifth or whatever. We’re just going to leave it all out there and see what happens. If it works out, great. And if not, we’ll know we gave it our best shot.”

No. 3-ranked Marion, No. 5 Center Point-Urbana and No. 6 Decorah appear to have a leg up on the other 10 teams in the field. Waverly-Shell Rock has hovered around the rankings all season as well.

That puts WCHS in a precarious position of having to be nearly flawless. The good news is that the Lynx have plenty of experience on the course, as they compete in the Dick Pollitt Go-Hawk Invite on a yearly basis. Willson led the team with a time of 17:50.9 on the terrain in early September.

But Turner says Willson, along with other team front runners Matt Perin and Jose Ramirez, will have to shave significant time off their previous performances on the course. The same could be said about Nos. 4 and 5 runners Cole Reiling and Codey Berg.

The burden doesn’t fall on the shoulders of one individual. Everyone will need to pick up the pace.

“We all have to have a near perfect race for us to get in,” Turner said. “Our top three are going to have to run close to 17 minutes, and Cole and Codey are going to have to be around the 18-minute mark, if not below, to give us a shot. The gap in our pack has to be almost non-existent. If might work, it might not, but we’re going to give it a shot and see what happens.”

The WCHS girls’ team faces similar challenges, as three teams — No. 9 Decorah, No. 13 Center Point-Urbana and No. 15 Waverly-Shell Rock — reside in the rankings. Benton Community could challenge for a top-three position as well.

Emma Peck, Kaelyn Butz and Jacie Crutcher provide WCHS with the best individual chances of sneaking into the top half of the field. There are also eight girls ranked individually, which Turner says takes the pressure off his squad.

“There are a lot of good individual girls there that can really go,” he said. “Our girls, they have no pressure, which is great for us. They’re going to run relaxed and see what they can do. Anything can happen on a special day.”

Peck clocked in at 22:13.4 during the Go-Hawk Invite to lead the Lynx last month.

The girls’ race will start at 4 p.m. today, with the boys’ race scheduled to go off at 4:30 p.m.

What: Class 3A State Qualifying Meet.

Where: Wartburg College course, Waverly.

Time: 4 p.m.

Teams : Benton Community, Center Point-Urbana, Charles City, Clear Lake, Decorah, Hampton-Dumont/CAL, Independence, Iowa Falls-Alden/AGWSR, Marion, South Tama County, Vinton-Shellsburg, Waverly-Shell Rock, Webster City.

Ranked Teams: Girls — 9. Decorah; 13. CP-U; 15. W-SR … Boys — 3. Marion; 5. CP-U; 6. Decorah.

Ranked Individual Girls: 4. Rebecca Anderson, Decorah; 5. Kiki Connell, Charles City; 7. Ellie Meyer, IF-A/AGWSR; 10. Emma Hoins, W-SR; 17. Peyton Steffen, Marion; 20. Madison Prier, Marion; 22. Lydia Maas, H-D/CAL; 29. Kora Katcher, CP-U.

Ranked Individual Boys: 4. Brady Hogan, Decorah; 5. Eli Larson, CP-U; 6. Luke Post, CP-U; 7. Shane Erb, Marion; 8. Jedidiah Osgood, Marion; 13. Mason Bach, CP-U; 22. Noah Lovelace, Decorah; 30. Justin Wright, Clear Lake.

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