Thompson takes title in photo-finish
DES MOINES — Nick Thompson didn’t know if he was the winner or runner-up when he crossed the finish line Monday afternoon.
The West Marshall junior runner was neck-and-neck with Nevada’s Owen Freeman for much of the race, and in the final run-in, he found himself slightly behind the Cub sophomore.
He knew he could do only one thing: go as hard as possible.
“It gets to the end, and I didn’t realize how close he was, we got to the track and [Freeman] passed me,” Thompson said. “Didn’t know how much I had, but I was like, ‘I’m just gonna give it all and see what happens.’ It’s so fun, you don’t get that a whole lot.”
Thompson got to the line in the ‘Nick’ of time and won the Heart of Iowa Conference boys’ title Monday at Saydel High School in a finish almost too close for the naked eye to make out. The final numbers said that Thompson won by 77 hundredths of a second ahead of Freeman with a winning time of 17:44.91.
He was the standout runner for a West Marshall boys’ team that finished fifth in the seven-team event and whose next best finisher was freshman Dylan Thompson in 36th place, with a time of 20:51.16.
West Marshall head coach Cynthia Hilleman was proud of the team’s consistency, particularly on a course the Trojans hadn’t run before Monday.
“They’re pretty consistent in running pretty similar times every meet,” Hilleman said. “I think they just need to keep working together, and I think that’s proven successful for them.”
She also singled out Thompson’s ability as a smart runner after his win.
With 150 points, the Trojans were 114 behind winners Nevada, who had four of the top-10 runners.
The girls’ team was led by three top-20 runs and a top-5 finish from Lilly Buck. Buck ran in fifth place with a time of 22:09.56, staying up at the front all race long and setting the pace for a strong Trojans performance. Hilleman praised her strong-mindedness after the race.
Emelia Hauser came across the finish line in 11th place with a time of 23:10.45 in one of her best runs of the season. Freshman Jadyn Bunting finished 18th to round out the school’s top-20 runners.
However, two more Trojans finished in the top-30 — sophomore Peyton Smith in 22nd (24:25.71) and junior Adisyn Young in 27th (24:47.11) — capping off a point total of 83, coming in 55 points behind a commanding performance from Roland-Story. The Norse had five top-10 finishers and six top-15s en route to a score of 29.
The run was a big confidence builder for the Trojans, Hilleman said.
“I think it sets us up really well,” Hilleman said. “Our girls, they work really well together. So I think just working with them and trying to keep all their confidence [is important].”
The Trojans don’t know where they’ll be running in state qualifiers next Thursday yet, and in what has been a season defined by runs from the underclassmen on both teams, taking the lessons from a strong overall showing at Saydel will be crucial to pulling off an upset and making state.
Regardless of whether West Marshall makes it as a team or not, Thompson has put himself in position to qualify with his strong runs — Monday was just another reminder that the junior is the young Trojans’ leader on the course.
Heart of Iowa Conference meet
At Des Moines
Team Standings — 1. Roland-Story 29, 2. PCM 64, 3. Nevada 72, 4. West Marshall 83, 5. South Hamilton 103, 6. Saydel 167.
Individual (top 10) — 1. Reece Johnson, R-S, 20:53; 2. Tori Meinecke, NEV, 21:15; 3. Paige Steenhoek, PCM, 21:37; 4. Elizabeth Ihle, R-S, 21:55; 5. Lilly Buck, WM, 22:09; 6. Eleanor Elliott-Rude, NEV, 22:11; 7. Moriah Bates, R-S, 22:11; 8. Lauryn Kilstofte, R-S, 22:23; 9. Makenna Carlson, R-S, 22:39; 10. Tiffani Koonce, PCM, 22:39.
WEST MARSHALL (83) — 5. Buck 22:09, 11. Emelia Hauser 23:10, 18. Jadyn Bunting 24:06, 22. Peyton Smith 24:25, 27. Adisyn Young 24:47, 33. Kalyn Polley 25:24, 34. Carli Pfantz 25:34, 37. Emma Nason 25:46, 38. Hannah Jovanovich 25:46, 39. Taylor Wittkop 25:47, 44. Ella Steward 26:08.
Team Standings — 1. Nevada 36, 2. Greene County 61, 3. South Hamilton 65, 4. Roland-Story 80, 5. West Marshall 150, 6. Saydel 157, 7. PCM 169.
Individual (top 10) — 1. Nicolas Thompson, WM, 17:44; 2. Owen Freeman, NEV, 17:45; 3. Luis Lopez Perez, NEV, 17:52; 4. Ty Skartvedt, SH, 18:13; 5. Logan Woodruff, GC, 18:23; 6. Nathan Limas, R-S, 18:30; 7. Carter Holland, NEV, 18:43; 8. Rhett Harter, NEV, 18:48; 9. Ethan Federick, GC, 18:52; 10. Jaysen Carstensen, GC, 19:03.
WEST MARSHALL (150) — 1. Thompson 17:44, 36. Dylan Thompson 21:51, 40. Luke Coulter 21:06, 42. Will Dawley 21:14; 60. Johnathan Downs 22:36; 66. Josiah Hand 22:45; 92. Aiden Downs 29:09.