FORT DODGE —
Coming down the final straightaway hill toward the finish line, Northeast’s Eli Kaczinski felt a little help on his final push for a top-10 finish Saturday at the Iowa Class 2A boys cross country state meet.
“Right there in that moment I was kind of thinking about who I’m running for; I’m running for Jesus, and I think that’s what helped me,” he said. “I knew how bad I wanted it, too, and I think he just carried me through the last part of it.”
After passing Albia’s Colton Dorpinghaus, Kaczinski won a foot race to the finish against Haile Duden of Sioux Center and captured ninth place in the 5,000-meter race, his best finish in four trips to the state course at Kennedy Park.
Led by Kaczinski, the Rebels placed eighth in the team race with 215 points.
Kaczinski maintained a spot around the 10th-place mark the entire race. He said he went out faster than he wanted to — in part not to get boxed in behind traffic with 128 runners in the field — then found a pace he liked.
“There’s going to be all sorts of people who are going out really fast, so you need to make sure you know your competition and know who’s going to be able to maintain that fast speed throughout the race,” he said. “Probably at the one-mile mark, that’s where everyone starts getting in their place, and after that it’s kind of every man for themselves. After the one-mile mark, I think that’s where people really start to settle in.
“I wanted to hang on with the lead pack as long as possible, but once the race actually started, then I just knew I needed to stay as close to them and maintain as much contact as I can with them.”
He did change things up toward the latter portion of the race.
“The previous years on that hill over there after the two-mile mark, I’d kind of just go my same pace up it, but I made sure this time I picked up the pace and worked it a little better, and I think that was the only part I really changed about the race,” Kaczinski said.
His time changed, too. He ran the course in 16 minutes, 25.8 seconds, more than 23 seconds faster than his time a year ago. He improved his time each year.
Fellow senior Nick Anderson was the next Rebel across the finish line, taking 49th in 17:28.4.
Michael Melchert of team champion Monticello was the individual champion in 15:18.2, while Gilbert’s Thomas Pollard finished second for the second year in a row (15:20.2).
Kaczinski was one of four area runners to record a top-15 finish in the boys races. Bellevue’s Andrew Meyer had the best showing (fourth in Class 1A), while Kyle Marti of Central DeWitt placed 11th in 3A and Lucas Schmidt of Marquette Catholic came in 14th in 1A.
Marti covered the course in 16:31.0.
“I tried going a faster first mile, then a slower second and then I tried to pick it back up on the last mile,” Marti, a senior, said of his strategy. The fast start was partly out of necessity.
“There are so many guys, I didn’t want to get stuck behind some people that are slower the I am, so I tried to stay on the outside and get out fast,” he said. “Usually (the opening sprint) is only the first 50 meters, but (here) it’s 100.”
For a guy who often misses practices and some meets because of his work, though, there was little about which to complain.
“I miss a lot of practice,” said Marti, who works at Jorgie’s Bar and Grill in DeWitt as a cook. “I’ve got to work harder than everyone else each practice I go to because I’ve got to make up for the one I didn’t go to the last time.”
Meyer, a sophomore, jumped five spots, from ninth as a freshman to fourth this year. While he was happy with his placing, his time (16:43.5, 1.5 seconds faster than a year ago) was a bit disappointing.
“I thought I could do a lot better than that,” he said. “I was hoping to go under 16 today.”
Meyer was up toward the front for the whole meet and even led for a brief time.
“I wanted to really push myself,” he said. “I kept trying to get spurts throughout the race. I thought I did a pretty good job with that. There were a lot of good runners in this meet today.”
He said the 10 mph wind from the north might have factored in to making his time slower than he hoped.
“I tried to hide behind and draft a bit,” he said. “It definitely affected things a bit.”
Meyer credited his offseason training for allowing him to move up so much.
“My training was a lot harder this year,” he said. “I knew what to expect, kind of. I knew it would be a fast start and a fast finish, and I improved that a lot over the summer.”
Before he had even finished the race, he was thinking about the future.
“I have a lot more to do in the next years to improve,” said Meyer, who said winning the individual title was a realistic goal. “The first thing when I crossed the finish line, that’s what I thought about, ‘What can I do to improve myself?’ Obviously, coach and I will work on that. I have a lot to improve on for track, too. Hopefully, I’ll get a good winter in.”
Meyer led the Comets to a fifth-place finish in the team race with 170 points.
Schmidt, a junior, finished 14th in 17:04.4.
Only 10.5 seconds separated the second-place finisher from the fifth-place finisher. Meanwhile, senior Kyle Kehoe won the individual crown in 16:17.4 and led Denver to the team title with 89 points.
Boone teammates Chandler Austin (15:05.6) and Albert Meier (15:53.5) ran 1-2 for the second year in a row in Class 3A and led the Toreadors to the team title. Senior Josh Evans of Marion Linn-Mar won the 4A individual crown in 15:19.4, but Cedar Rapids Prairie put four runners in the top 11 to come away with the team title.
IOWA BOYS STATE MEET
1. Cedar Rapids Prairie 81; 2. Johnston 116; 3. West Des Moines Dowling 122; 4. Marion Linn-Mar 135; 5. Pleasant Valley 138; 6. Cedar Falls 145; 7. Waukee 178; 8. Ames 179; 9. Iowa City West 215; 10. West Des Moines Valley 229; 11. Dubuque Hempstead 256; 12. Dubuque Senior 262; 13. Des Moines Roosevelt 264; 14. Iowa City High 285; 15. Bettendorf 378.
1. Josh Evans (LM) 15:19.4; 2. Spencer Clark (Dowl) 15:30.5; 3. Daniel Soto (Valley) 15:30.7; 4. Jake Moore (Prair) 15:34.7; 5. Tanner Rathje (LM) 15:38.2; 6. Mark Fairley (Senior) 15:40.3; 7. Isaiah Vlasek (Prair) 15:41.1; 8. Mitch Pritts (Prair) 15:42.6; 9. Ryan Tunink (Waukee) 15:43.9; 10. Ryan Schweizer (Dowl) 15:43.9.
1. Boone 69; 2. Charles City 82; 3. Decorah 114; 4. Pella 127; 5. Algona 148; 6. Grinnell 166; 7. Dubuque Wahlert 184; 8. Mount Vernon/Lisbon 195; 9. Harlan 210; 10. Center Point-Urbana 212; 11. Williamsburg 232; 12. Clear Creek-Amana 244; 13. Creston 312; 14. MOC-Floyd Valley 322; 15. Dallas Center-Grimes 374.
1. Chandler Austin (Boone) 15:05.6; 2. Albert Meier (Boone) 15:53.5; 3. Atem Akok (Perry) 15:57.4; 4. Josh Yeager (CPU) 16:09.8; 5. Jacob Day (CCity) 16:13.0; 6. Bo Hjelle (Algona) 16:13.3; 7. Chase Smith (Garner-Hayfield) 16:15.6; 8. Skylar DeJong (Oskaloosa) 16:21.4; 9. Spencer DeJong (Oskaloosa) 16:22.1; 10. Mason Doty (Grin) 16:27.1.
11. Kyle Marti (Central DeWitt) 16:31.0.
1. Monticello 63; 2. Gilbert 115; 3. Orange City Unity Christian 138; 4. LeGrand East Marshall 158; 5. Shenandoah 169; 6. Alleman North Polk 182; 7. Wellman Mid-Prairie 212; 8. Northeast 215; 9. OA-BCIG 220; 10. Osage 225; 11. Albia 230; 12. Tipton 246; 13. Fort Dodge St. Edmond 263; 14. Lake City South Central Calhoun 264; 15. Hudson 325.
1. Michael Melchert (Mont) 15:18.2; 2. Thomas Pollard (Gilb) 15:20.2; 3. Wesley Greder (Gilb) 15:57.7; 4. Eric Lenz (Tip) 16:06.4; 5. Ben Ahlrichs (Mont) 16:07.9; 6. Danny Halva (North Fayette Valley) 16:12.7; 7. Tanner Goetsch (Spirit Lake) 16:15.4; 8. C.J. May (Aplington-Parkersburg) 16:19.3; 9. Eli Kaczinski (NE) 16:25.8; 10. Haile Duden (Sioux Center) 16:26.5.
NORTHEAST (Team points in parentheses) — 9. (6) Kaczinski 16:25.8; 49. (33) Nick Anderson 17:28.4; 72. (51) Jaden Butler 17:55.0; 76. (54) Nick Kennicker 17:57.7; 95. (71) Christian Knutsen 18.29.3; 107. (83) Brendon Butler 18:37.8; 115. (91) Hunter Bielenberg 19:02.2.
1. Denver 89; 2. Sheffield West Fork 119; 3. Calmar South Winneshiek 157; 4. Oakland Riverside 167; 5. Bellevue 170; 6. Council Bluffs St. Albert 175; 7. Dunlap Boyer Valley 179; 8. Hull Trinity Christian* 186; 9. Algona Bishop Garrigan 186; 10. Riverside Highland 188; 11. Wapello 213; 12. Eagle Grove 256; 13. Mapleton Maple Valley 290; 14. Alta-Aurelia 300; 15. Packwood Pekin 327.
* — Won tiebreaker (Higher finish by No. 6 runner)
1. Kyle Kehoe (Den) 16:17.4; 2. Peyton Twedt (WFork) 16:37.0; 3. Evan Mahler (RivHigh) 16:41.1; 4. Andrew Meyer (Bel) 16:43.5; 5. Alex Van Ginkel (TChrist) 16:47.2; 6. Devin Franzen (SWinn) 16:47.5; 7. Ryan Izer (Turkey Valley) 16:51.2; 8. Hunter Hostetler (Sloan Westwood) 16:51.5; 9. Cole Silver (Conrad BCLUW) 16:54.4; 10. Jacob Hansen (WFork) 16:55.7.
Other area qualifier
14. Lucas Schmidt (Marquette Catholic) 17:04.4.
BELLEVUE (Team points in parentheses) — (4) Meyer 16:43.5; 42. (25) Logan DeVries 17:49.3; 50. (31) Christian Benson 17:54.2; 72. (50) Anders Frieberg 18:24.9; 84. (60) Andrew Segalla 18:43.3; 88. (63) Josh Sieverding 18:46.9; 90. (65) Nathan Goslin 18:48.0.