One year after just missing out on her first trip to the State Cross Country Meet, North Tama sophomore Abi Watson finally gets to head to Fort Dodge.
Watson had to suffer through a 2011 state qualifying meet that saw her finish one spot after the 10th and final runner crossed the finish line. This year, she redeemed that disappointment with a trip to the state meet following a sixth-place tally at a Class 1A state qualifier at Marshalltown Community College on Thursday.
"It feels great," Watson said. "I was 11th last year so getting in this year was a big accomplishment."
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
North Tama sophomore Abi Watson qualified for the Class 1A Iowa High School State Cross Country Championships on Thursday after her sixth place finish at the state-qualifying meet at Marshalltown Community College. Watson finished the rain-soaked race in 16 minutes, 27 seconds.
The North Tama Redhawk and the rest of the field battled cold, rainy and windy conditions throughout the race. Watson crossed the line in 16 minutes, 27 seconds, which was eight seconds ahead of the final qualifying spot.
Sixth-ranked Denver won the team title with 66 points, holding off No. 7 Dike-New Hartford by four points. The third state qualifying team was Eagle Grove with 117 points. Dike-New Hartford had three of the top seven finishers, but all five of Denver's scoring runners were in the top 19.
Seventh-ranked Kelsey Kirchoff of Denver was runner-up while Eagle Grove's Tiffany Christensen, ranked third in the state, won the meet with a 15:23.
Team Standings - 1. Denver 66, 2. Dike-New Hartford 70, 3. Eagle Grove 117, 4, North Iowa 144, 5. Newman Catholic 192, 6. Grundy Center 196, 7. BCLUW 207, 8. Westfork 218, 9. North Butler 225, 10. Ogden 246, 11. North Tama 263, 12. Gladbrook-Reinbeck 265, 13. Belle Plaine 278, 14. Colfax-Mingo 316, 15. Belmond-Klemme 386.
Top 10 (state qualifiers) - 1. Tiffany Christensen, EG, 15:23; 2. Kelsey Kirchoff, DENV, 15:25; 3. Emily Campbell, NB, 15:46; 4. Emma Luhmann, SEWG, 16:12; 5. Lauren Sharp, DNH, 16:27; 6. Abi Watson, NT, 16:27; 7. Haylee Luna, DNH, 16:29; 8. Kadi Wright, DNH, 16:30; 9. Shay Curley, NEWM, 16:34; 10. Elizabeth Henrich, NEWM, 16:35.
GRUNDY CENTER (196) - 11. Hannah Stumberg 16:49; 26. Jes Ackerson 18:07; 51. Dalyn Maxson 19:00; 56. Kate Ross 19:10; 70. Jen Rust 19:47.
BCLUW (207) - 12. Amelia Tonner 17:04; 13. Becca Steckelberg 17:05; 64. Michelle Schmitt 19:26; 66. Bailey Nash 19:30; 74. Molly Pieper 20:07.
NORTH TAMA (263) - 6. Abi Watson 16:27; 33. Jamie Huntley 18:20; 69. BrandiAnne Daub 19:40; 86. Jordyn TeBeest 20:33; 100. Alexis Taylor 21:19.
GLADBROOK-REINBECK (265) - 32. Nicole Adair 18:19; 53. Meg Elder 19:00; 60. Hannah Martin 19:19; 71. Rachel Brown 19:52; 75. Kelsey Schwartz 20:09.
COLO-NESCO - 46. Shelby Dailey 18:45; 72. Taylor Brown 19:56; 94. Leah Vincent 21:01; 110. Alexa Saunders 22:22.
GMG - 112. Allison Stegmann 22:34.
Watson felt the agony of just missing out on state last year. A few other area runners will be feeling those affects this season.
Grundy Center junior Hannah Stumberg as well as BCLUW's Amelia Tonner and Becca Steckelberg all finished in succession in 11th, 12th and 13th place. The top 10 individuals qualify for the state meet along with the top three teams.
"I am so sick for Becca and Amelia," BCLUW coach Donna Fiscus said. "They both work so hard and to come up short like that is heartbreaking. I hurt for both of those girls, but I am glad they are both coming back next season. We'll get there next year."
Grundy Center was the top finishing team in the area and the Spartans came in sixth with 196 points and trailed Mason City Newman Catholic by just four.
Stumberg fell short of a state berth by 14 seconds. Her 11th place was clocked at 16:49. The team's next best finisher was junior Jes Ackerson in 26th and freshman Dalyn Maxson was 51st.
Just one second separated Tonner from Steckelberg, but Tonner pulled off a 12th place tally with a time of 17:04. The next best finisher for the Comets was senior Michelle Schmitt in 64th.
"I told the girls we will get to state next year as a team," Fiscus said. "It has been too long for that. We need to get back there."
The last time the BCLUW girls advanced to state as a team was 2006.
North Tama and Gladbrook-Reinbeck came in 11th and 12th, respectively, in the team standings.
After Watson, the Redhawks next best finisher was junior Jamie Huntley in 33rd. She crossed in 18:20 and then senior BrandiAnne Daub was 69th overall.
The Rebels were led by sophomore Nicole Adair in 32nd place. After that, G-R welcomed sophomore Meg Elder to the finish line in 53rd place and sophomore Hannah Martin was 60th overall.
Colo-NESCO also competed Thursday. The Royals best finisher was Shelby Dailey in 46th place, while Taylor Brown was 72nd.
The Iowa High School State Cross Country Championships will take place Oct. 27 in Fort Dodge. The Class 1A girls race will start at 2 p.m. Watson is hoping to run her best race of the season and potentially score a personal-best time.
"I am going to try my best, but I would really like to just get a PR," said Watson, who is ranked No. 21 in Class 1A. "The weather did not have much of an effect today, but I would have rather ran without the rain."