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Girls 5th, boys 10th at Anamosa

With prairie over their heads in places, sophomore Calista Haasl and senior Haley Kluesner match strides on the backside of the Central Park cross country course Sept. 26 near Anamosa. (photo by Joe Wilkinson)

By Joe Wilkinson
Special to the Economist
ANAMOSA– The annual ‘Run Round the Lake’ was more of a slip and slide this year. Midweek rain meant muddy side hills on the cross country course which rounds Central Park Lake near Anamosa. It evens out, though, since everybody runs the same course.
Solon’s varsity girls were fifth of 11 full teams. The boys were 10th of 12 teams on the 5 kilometer course, which threads through head-high prairie, pine woods, campground grass, the 26-acre lake’s dam and across the iconic wooden plank bridge.

Justus leads boys across Anamosa finish line
Sophomore Jorel Justus was Solon’s top runner, 13th overall in 18:48 over the 5 kilometer course. Will DeHaan from Central DeWitt posted the top boys’ time, 17:35. Justus’ teammates were packed in behind him, with Tanner Larkey (50th), Jake Roskopf (55th), Kenji Fisher (56th) and Jack Bell (62nd) all between 20:24 and 20:57 in the 82-runner field.
In a meet with three Class 2A rated teams, Anamosa (ranked 13th) won a tight race for the first six spots, 98 points. Fort Madison, Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Tipton (11th ranked), Central DeWitt and Monticello (15th) ranged from 106 to 124 points as their first five runners were tallied. Solon’s team finish was 236.

Two top-20 finishes from girls
In a meet in which more than half the girls’ teams were ranked in their respective classes, unranked Solon’s Sophie Nicol and freshman Ella Düster picked up top-20 medals. Nicol, a junior, crossed 17th at 21:49, with Düster 18th, five seconds behind. Freshmen Aira Foster (30th, 22:36) and Nicole Shafer (33rd, 22:44) were next across for Solon. Junior Erin Kerkhoff (39th, 23:17) rounded out the Lady Spartans’ 137-point team score. Iowa City West’s Gabbie Skopec, third-ranked in Class 4A, was the overall girls’ winner in 19:21.
In cross-country, only the top five runners from each school score. However, with the grind of 3.2 miles up and over hills and muddy trails, all while struggling to breathe, it becomes a team exercise. That is when a little senior leadership helps. “We try to get them going, with the drills, warming up, back on their feet and walking after the race,” said senior Haley Kluesner. “I try to lead more this year; with (sophomore) Sophie (Nicol)… get them herded in the right direction.” Even while talking with the media, Kluesnerstopped to holler encouragement to each junior varsity boy running by in their race.
She has finished in the top five once so far this year and a couple times last year. “There are a lot more hills on this course. I like a flat course; Benton (last week), Williamsburg (this week),” she said. And she’s watching her times (not a personal best at Anamosa), knowing she is in the mix as her senior season plays out. But the leadership is something that comes before and after the actual race. Somebody needs to be there for that.
In the girls’ team race, top-ranked 4A Iowa City West won the championship with 29 points. West features five top 30 4A runners, though one was beaten by another teammate at Anamosa. Following were Monticello (top-ranked in 2A) with 57, Fort Madison (10th, 3A) with 107, Springville-Central City (fourth, 1A) 120, Solon 137, Bellevue Marquette (15th, 1A) in the top half of the finish.