AMES - East Marshall coach Christian Grandgenett's early prognostication wasn't great, though his boys' team had still attained one of the main goals Monday.
Originally thinking his squad had placed fourth or fifth and narrowly missed a trip to state, the coach reflected on another objective he had set for the day.
"We told them, 'if you can at least walk off the course knowing you gave your best, you can hold your head high,'" said Grandgenett.
T-R PHOTO BY TYLER STRAND
East Marshall’s Caleb Benzing surges ahead late in the Class 2A state qualifier in Ames Monday. Benzing placed 11th overall helping the Mustangs take third with a score of 120.
The Mustang boys left the Iowa State Cross Country Course with their respect intact along with something else, a state qualifier banner.
Propelled by a fourth place finish from Ben Terrones, East Marshall claimed third with 120 points, fending off No. 9 ranked North Iowa at a Class 2A state qualifier meet in Ames. Fifth-rated Gilbert, the returning Class 2A state runner-up, won with a tally of 55, while No. 11 Osage was second (88). The Mustangs will make their first state appearance as a team since 2009.
The host Tigers were powered by a 1-2 finish from the sophomore duo of Thomas Pollard and Wesley Greder.
Team Standings - 1. Gilbert 55, 2. Osage 88, 3. East Marshall 120, 4. North Iowa 136, 5. West Marshall 153, 6. Bondurant-Farrar 158, 7. South Hardin 168, 8. Central Springs 189, 9. Roland-Story 205, 10. South Hamilton 224, 11. Forest City 243, 12. Hampton-Dumont 301, 13. Madrid 316
Individual (top 10) - 1. Thomas Pollard, Gil, 17:26; 2. Wesley Greder, Gil, 17:30; 3. Tyler Randall, Osa, 17:41; 4. Ben Terrones, EM, 17:46; 5. Tim Rose, SHar, 17:47; 6. Jonah Roggensack, Osa, 17:57; 7. Connor Smith, NIA, 17:59; 8. Brian Becker, NIA, 18:06; 9. Chad Ullman, FC, 18:15; 10. John Stanish, SHar, 18:20
East Marshall (120) - 4. Ben Terrones 17:46, 11. Caleb Benzing 18:24, 26. Rob Petrie 19:08, 31. Drew Schossow 19:23, 48. Seth Webb 20:10
West Marshall (153) - 17. Austin McCool 18:56, 22. Cole White 18:59, 28. Tanner Arnold 19:21, 39. Nathan Bradley 19:50, 47. Hunter Wilkening 20:09
South Hardin (168) - 5. Tim Rose 17:47, 10. John Stanish 18:20, 38. Levi Cook 19:45, 57. Micah Dorow 20:26, 58. Logan Roling 20:26
Terrones came through in 17 minutes, 46 seconds to earn his first trip to state, though Grandgenett saw it coming from his first year with the Mustangs.
"Ben's always been a state-qualifying level runner for us. Last year he was injured all year and came back. His freshman year he finished (in the top-20)," said Grandgenett.
"He's always been that caliber, so it's great to see him come through."
Taking a more aggressive approach that left him taxed in the late stages of the North Iowa Cedar League conference meet, Terrones applied a different strategy Monday.
"I started out a little slower and picked it up as the race went on. I was a lot stronger in middle of the race when I needed to be," said Terrones.
Coming off a fourth place finish a year ago, Grandgenett knew his team would have to fight tooth and nail to break into the top three this time.
"We continually told the boys that we were a better team than we were last year, but we got sent to a tough district too, so nothing was going to come easy. Nobody was going to hand us anything, we just needed every spot," said Grandgenett.
Placing 11th a year ago, Tim Rose didn't need any reminder of how important one spot can be, though he still received one Monday as his freshman sister, Lydia, finished in the same position to just miss advancing to state.
"I know what that feels like. (Last year) made me realize nothing is for certain here. You have to show up here, it doesn't matter how you run the rest of the year," said Rose, who used the setback to propel him through the off-season.
"It helps you get faster and it gives you a reason to train the whole summer. It's not if you mess up, it's how you learn from what happened."
Rose claimed fifth in 17:47, while senior teammate John Stanish rallied late to grab 10th in 18:20 - holding off East Marshall's Caleb Benzing (11th, 18:24) and earning his first state meet berth.
"Tim ran a perfect race and John ran the race he had to. He put himself in position and was 13th at two miles and then passed a few guys at the end. Both of those guys know that you have to relax and let the race come to you," said South Hardin coach Mike Olson.
The Tigers took seventh with a score of 168, two slots behind West Marshall (153), which had equaled its placing from a year ago but had higher hopes this time.
"Our guys worked hard all season. If things would have gone the way we planned, we definitely would have (made it to state)," said West Marshall coach Brian Weig.
No. 26 ranked Nathan Bradley was in the mix for a second run at Fort Dodge, but faded from 7th to 40th in the last half mile.
"When you have one of your top guys go down, which has happened to (Bradley) the past couple meets, it's tough. We hoped that we had fixed the problem as he's felt pretty good lately," said Weig.
Austin McCool led the Trojans with in 18th (18:56), while Cole White was close behind in 23rd (18:59).
"They ran their hearts out today and did exactly what I asked them to do. We can't hang our heads on that," said Weig.
The state cross country meet is Saturday at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge. The Class 2A boys' race begins at 1:30 p.m.