Three Marion County cross country teams have qualified for the 2012 State Meet in Fort Dodge.
Pella High won the Class 3A team title at the State Qualifying Meet held in Pella on a blustery, windy, cold and rain filled afternoon Thursday, Oct. 18. Temperatures hovered in the low 40s for the afternoon with strong wind gusts at times out of the north.
The Dutch won the team title for varsity boys and girls. The Knoxville Panther varsity boys’ also earned a trip to Fort Dodge by finishing in third place.
The 3A team score for Pella in varsity boys’ action was 40 points with Grinnell second with 86 and Knoxville in third with 94.
The top three teams all qualify for state.
The Pella Lady Dutch won the team title in Pella with 52 points out dueling the Grinnell Tigers for the team title by 10 points. Grinnell was second with 62 points followed by Williamsburg in third with 80.
The varsity girls’ teams hit the course first. Pella is ranked eighth in Class 3A and the Tigers from Grinnell check in at No. 7.
Grinnell won the Little Hawkeye Conference Championship by 10 points, with Pella second.
The tide turned as the State Qualifying Meet as the Dutch beat the Tigers by 10 points.
Gabi Meirick led the way for the Lady Dutch with a winning entry. Meirick was clocked at 15:49.
The rest of Pella’s winning team included Victoria Kleven in fifth at 16:12, Ashley Kirkland ninth at 16:34, Sydney Swanson 18th at 16:52 and Katie Canfield 19th at 16:54.
Pella also had Abby Fyfe in 21st at 17:01 and Hannah Pickett 23rd at 17:03. Fyfe and Pickett didn’t figure into the team total for the day.
Wick Cunningham powered the Knoxville Panthers to state with a win in the 5K race. His winning time was 16:43.
Pella’s Evan Jones was second in the race with a time of 16:54.
The rest of Pella’s championship running group for the afternoon consisted of Michael Schemm in eighth at 17:25, Wade Pingel ninth at 17:31, Ben Warner 10th at 17:33 and Matthew Klein 11th at 17:38.
Ryan Sievers was 13th at 17:49 and Keegan Fitzsimmons 15th at 17:50 to round out the Pella High top seven runners.
Odds and Ends
This makes the eighth year in a row the Dutch have qualified for the state meet in the boys’ competition.
It is the seventh straight year the Lady Dutch have qualified for the state meet in Fort Dodge.
The Pella boys’ team won the 2011 state title as did the 2009 squad. In 2007 and 2008 the Dutch finished second at state.
The Lady Dutch were third at state each of the last two years as well as third in 2007.
“Gabi had a tremendously courageous race. Especially considering the weather conditions it is very difficult to lead a high quality race like this from start to finish. Gabi grabbed the race from the gun and never looked back. I’m so proud of her.”
Cutler added, “The girls had a positive attitude all week. I can not overstate how much they support each other and run for one another. They had faith that each one would give their best and that their best could produce the result we hoped for.”
“Grinnell is an excellent opponent and they brought out the best in us,” the coach said.
He added, “The weather conditions were not ideal for spectators and all the wonderful volunteers that made hosting the meet possible. But for the runners, we love conditions like that. A bit of adversity for mentally strong teams brings out an extra dose of focus and resolve. I think those two characteristics describe our races yesterday well, focus and resolve.”
The Pella Girls will run at State at noon Saturday while the boys will start at 12:30.
Varsity Girls 4K - 1. Pella 52, 2. Grinnell 62, 3. Williamsburg 80, 4. Benton 137, 5. Fairfield 152, 6. Nevada 161, 7. South Tama 192, 8. Oskaloosa 209, 9. Knoxville 255, 10. Carlisle 291, 11. Centerville 291, 12. Chariton 328.
Varsity Boys 5K - 1. Pella 40, 2. Grinnell 86, 3. Knoxville 94, 4. Williamsburg 136, 5. Benton 143, 6. Oskaloosa 163, 7. South Tama 173, 8. Nevada 200, 9. Carlisle 248, 10. Centerville 288, 11. Clarke 312, 12. Fairfield 313, 13. Chariton 381.