REINBECK - The battle between South Hardin and East Marshall has been back-and-forth all season. On any given day, they can and have beaten each other.
Monday was South Hardin's day at the North Iowa Cedar League meet at Oak Leaf Country Club.
The Mustangs had two runners in the top 10 and three in the first 18 spots but the difference in the team standings came down to South Hardin getting a better performance from its fourth and fifth runners.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
South Hardin freshman Lydia Rose, center, finished sixth in her first-ever NICL Conference Meet on Monday at Oak Leaf Country Club in Reinbeck. Grundy Center junior Hannah Stumberg, left, placed 10th overall.
T-R PHOTO BY TYLER STRAND
South Tama’s Taylor Ellenbecker, right, picks up her pace just after the 2-mile mark during the NICL cross country meet Monday at Oak Leaf Country Club in Reinbeck.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
East Marshall junior Kristen Amendt, right, took eighth overall at the NICL meet, while the Mustangs recorded three top-18 finishes and placed fifth as a team.
"We worked really hard and competed hard," South Hardin coach Mike Olson said. "It was a different kind of meet. It was postponed for the first time in my 23 years Saturday and we did not have school today. So it was an unusual setting for us. We adjusted well though."
In the end, the Eagles wound up fourth and East Marshall was fifth with a separation of nine points. Winning the NICL meet was Class 1A No. 7 Dike-New Hartford with 75 points, while defending champion Hudson was second with 106. Coming in just behind Hudson for third place was Class 1A No. 6 Denver, which has never finished outside the top three in the NICL and has won the meet three times.
Denver's Kelsey Kirchoff, who is ranked No. 7 in Class 1A, was first overall with a time of 16 minutes, 9 seconds, while Wapsie Valley's Abrah Meyer was second in 16:35.
Team Standings - 1. Dike-New Hartford 75, 2. Hudson 106, 3. Denver 108, 4. South Hardin 131, 5. East Marshall 140, 6. South Tama 188, 7. Wapsie Valley 190, 8. BCLUW 195, 9. Grundy Center 204, 10. Aplington-Parkersburg 204, 11. LaPorte City Union 246, 12. Gladbrook-Reinbeck 252, 13. West Marshall 268.
All-conference (top 7) - 1. Kelsey Kirchoff, DEN, 16:09; 2. Abrah Meyer, WV, 16:35; 3. Amanda Cartney, HUD, 16:41; 4. Haylee Luna, DNH, 16:48; 5. Lauren Sharp, DNH, 16:50; 6. Lydia Rose, SH, 16:52; 7. Kelsey Kupka, STC, 16:53.
SOUTH HARDIN (131) - 6. Lydia Rose, 16:52; 12. Claire Damon, 17:25; 22. Megan Carr, 18:04; 40. Kylee Zoske, 19:22; 51. Laura Campbell, 19:49.
EAST MARSHALL (140) - 8. Kristen Amendt, 16:54; 9. Haley Fye, 17:01; 18. Paige Miller, 17:48; 44. Paige Flugge, 19:34; 61. Allie Roberts, 20:19.
SOUTH TAMA (188) - 7. Kelsey Kupka, 16:53; 11. Taylor Ellenbecker, 17:18; 39. Regina Balderas, 19:20; 63. Erin Filloon, 20:28; 68. Natasha Musgrave, 20:51.
BCLUW (195) - 15. Becca Steckelberg, 17:32; 16. Amelia Tonner, 17:35; 45. Michelle Schmitt, 19:35; 59. Bailey Nash, 20:10; 60. Molly Pieper, 20:10.
GRUNDY CENTER (204) - 10. Hannah Stumberg, 17:11; 37. Jes Ackerson, 19:07; 49. Dalyn Maxson, 19:46; 52. Kate Ross, 19:50; 56. Jen Rust, 20:08.
GLADBROOK-REINBECK (252) - 36. Nicole Adair, 19:03; 41. Meg Elder, 19:23; 43. Hannah Martin, 19:31; 62. Kelsey Schwartz, 20:27; 70. Cydney Rose, 21:12.
WEST MARSHALL (268) - 14. Victoria Pothast, 17:30; 50. Rachel Knights, 19:48; 66. Maggie Sodders, 20:32; 67. Carly Kielman, 20:42; 71. Ashley Pfantz, 21:13.
The first area runner to finish was South Hardin freshman Lydia Rose and she came across in sixth with a time of 16:52. Also scoring first-team all-conference recognition was South Tama senior Kelsey Kupka, who was just one second behind Rose in seventh place.
"I knew the two runners from Denver and Wapsie Valley were good so I was just thinking somewhere around three to six would be good for me," Rose said. "I was hoping for third, but I have gone back-and-forth with those other girls in front of me all year."
Kupka improved her placing by 10 spots this season after coming across in 17th during her junior campaign.
"I am really excited," Kupka said. "I was just trying my best to stay up front. This is my senior year so I am trying to go out with a bang. I am trying to leave it all out here."
Several other area runners also claimed all-conference honors. After Rose and Kupka came East Marshall duo Kristen Amendt and Haley Fye followed by Grundy Center junior Hannah Stumberg. South Tama County's Taylor Ellenbecker, South Hardin's Claire Damon and West Marshall's Victoria Pothast also claimed second-team honors. BCLUW's Becca Steckelberg and Amelia Tonner and East Marshall's Paige Miller finished high enough for honorable mention all-conference honors.
The top seven finishers earned first-team recognition with places 8-14 scoring second-team honors and 16-21 claiming a spot on the honorable mention team.
South Hardin was missing one of its top five runners but still managed to take fourth overall, which was the Tigers' best finish since at least 2003. Sam Topp did not run due to illness, but Rose's sixth place tally as well as Damon's 12th place finish were good enough for the Tigers. Freshman Megan Carr also just missed honorable mention all-conference honors in 22nd.
The Mustangs earned more all-conference finishers on the day but were held back in the team standings by their fourth and fifth runners. Paige Flugge was 44th and Allie Roberts took 61st overall.
"When we are at our best, we'd like to think we are good enough to finish in the top two spots," East Marshall coach Christian Grandgenett said. "We have one meet left though. The kids have battled all season. We'll see how the chips fall Thursday."
Amendt turned in one of her best finishes of the season to place eighth and Fye was just behind her in ninth. Miller was 18th overall.
"I was really nervous today," Amendt said. "My main focus was not really on this meet. We want to be great on Thursday. I have got to make sure I am in the top 10 Thursday. There is no question about it."
South Tama County had a few girls out with illnesses and finished in sixth as a team, while BCLUW and Grundy Center were eighth and ninth, respectively. Gladbrook-Reinbeck and West Marshall were 12th and 13th, respectively.
The Trojans of STC grabbed two all-conference finishes in Kupka's seventh-place tally and Taylor Ellenbecker's 11th place finish. Naomi Hoskey missed the meet due to illness. Another top five runner - Diahana Puentes - did not run varsity but took second in the JV race.
"I am real happy with how we finished," South Tama County coach George Kuhter said. "We picked a bad time to have some girls sick, but they did well today.
BCLUW and Grundy Center were separated by nine points.
Grundy Center had the best individual finish of the two schools, but the Comets claimed two top 16 finishes.
Leading the way for BCLUW was Steckelberg in 15th with a time of 17:32 and Tonner in 16th with a time of 17:35.
Stumberg was the Spartans' top finisher in 10th, but the next best runner was Jes Ackerson in 37th.
"I wanted to be top 10, and I really just tried to stay with the Dike runners," said Stumberg, a junior who was not an all-conference runner last year. "Dike is one of our biggest competitors for Thursday. We are excited for that day. I am going to try to qualify individually, but I am going to have to step it up a bit."
West Marshall finished 16 points behind Gladbrook-Reinbeck in the team standings but the Trojans got a 14th place finish from Pothast as she crossed the line in 17:30.
The Rebels' best finisher was Nicole Adair in 36th overall. Meg Elder also finished 41st and Hannah Martin was 43rd.
After Pothast, West Marshall got a 50th place finish from Rachel Knights.
The NICL meet was originally scheduled for Saturday but rainy wet conditions and lightning postponed it to Monday. All the runners had to deal with the change, but some coaches could tell it effected their performance.
"Everybody had to do it, but I felt like you could tell it affected some of our runners," Grandgenett said. "We'll need a complete team effort at the district meet Thursday. We'll need to be at our best. It's always an ongoing roller coaster with this team and today we had one of our lower days."
The state-qualifying meet for all schools will be Thursday.
East Marshall, South Hardin and West Marshall all run in a Class 2A meet at Iowa State University's course on Thursday, while BCLUW, Gladbrook-Reinbeck and Grundy Center run in a Class 1A meet at Marshalltown Community College along with Colo-NESCO, North Tama and GMG from the area and Denver and Dike-New Hartford from the NICL.
South Tama County is the only Class 3A team in the area and the Trojans will compete for state berths at Pella.
The races at Iowa State and Pella will both begin at 4:30 p.m., while the Class 1A race in Marshalltown will begin at 3:30 p.m.