Cross Country: Ram boys secure runner-up finish at HOIC meet in Saydel
By BRANDON HURLEY
A steady climb of dedication and perseverance was rewarded with an elite finish Monday. The Greene County boys’ cross country team, powered by a string of top 10 runners, finished runner-up at the 2020 Heart of Iowa Conference meet Monday at Saydel.
The Rams proved they belonged amongst a league of talented veterans, finishing a few points behind conference champion, Nevada. Greene County edged out third-place South Hamilton (65 points) by scoring 61 points while Nevada walked away the title aided by 36 points thanks to four Cubs in the top 10.
In a season that at one point was in limbo before it got started, the massive leap the Rams took Oct. 12 impressed head coach Jeff Lamoureux. The third-year lead man was thrilled with how well his boys pushed. They were led by three top 10 runners and four guys in the top 15, proving how effective Greene County’s young core can be, one that should compete for titles yet again next fall. The Rams viewed their silver medal not as a disappointment, but as a sign of what is in store down the road.
“I can’t say enough about the progress the boys have made,” Lamoureux said. “We knew we had an outside shot at taking the conference title but Nevada was just too strong tonight. With the bulk of our top runners returning next year, we feel we’ll have a shot at a conference title next year. "
Greene County’s top-tier finish was ignited by all-conference honoree, Logan Woodruff, who placed fifth overall with a time of 18:23.03. The junior was a little more than a half minute behind individual conference champion Nicolas Thompson out of West Marshall (17:44.91). Thompson edged out a pair of hard-charging Nevada runners, as Owen Freeman (17:45.64) and Luis Lopez Peters (17:52) finished second and third, respectively, while South Hamilton’s Ty Skartvedt shut out Woodruff from finishing higher by placing fourth with a time of 18:13.11, 10 seconds quicker than the lead Ram.
Greene County freshman Ethan Frederick compiled a spectacular performance in his HOIC meet debut, finishing ninth with a time of 18:52.06, just missing out on all-conference honors by four seconds. Sophomore Jayden Carstensen rounded out the trio of top 10 Greene County runners, placing 10th with a time of 19:03.23. Fellow sophomore Dakota Mobley snuck into the top-level action as well, running to a time of 19:32.41, securing himself a 15th-place finish. Ethan Larsen slid in at 22nd overall (20:09.86) while Luis Velazco rounded out the top 30 with a time of 20:28.25.
As a team, Roland-Story placed fourth with a score of 80, well ahead of fifth-place West Marshall (150). Saydel (157) and PCM (169) closed out the conference meet, finishing sixth and seventh, respectively.
The Greene County girls’ squad did not have enough runners to place in the team standings, only trotting out three runners. The Rams were led by the duo of Olivia Shannon and Makala Kafer, who each pushed each other throughout Monday’s race, finished 42nd and 43rd, respectively. Shannon was the top Ram on the Des Moines course, cruising to a time of 26:06.64, slightly out-stepping Kafer, who crossed the finish line with a time of 26:07.43.
GCHS sophomore Autumn Stevens was the only other varsity athlete in action on the girls’ side, using her time of 27:50.13 to finish 52nd overall.
Despite the small pool of competitors at his disposal, coach Lamoureux was pleased with how his girls’ competed in their first postseason competition of the fall.
“The girls continue to make progress and the 3 girls we had run tonight all improved on their times from last Thursday,” Lamoureux said.
The fourth-ranked Roland-Story Norse (Class 2A) absolutely steamrolled the competition en route to the girls’ conference, anchored by 10th-ranked Reece Johnson’s individual crown (20:53.28). Roland-Story secured five of the top 10 place-winners Monday, helping pad their impressive team score of 29. PCM finished runner-up with 64 points while Nevada (72), West Marshall (83) and South Hamilton (103 points) rounded out the top five.
Greene County is next in action at the state qualifying meet set for Oct. 22. Location assignments and groupings had not been released as of press time. The Class 3A boys’ state meet will take place on Friday, Oct. 30 this year, a change from the usual Saturday time. This alteration was made in connection with the thread of COVID-19, attempting to spread out athletes and fans better. The 2A girls’ state race will commence at 10:30 a.m. the following morning Saturday, Oct. 31. The 2020 state meet will once again be held at the Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge.