It was a crisp fall day that a lot of student-athletes won't forget as some made history, some broke records, some proved themselves and some fell short.
Either way, the area has a slew of athletes heading to Fort Dodge in a little over a week to participate in the Iowa High School State Cross Country Meet after Thursday's round of districts ended. With the top three teams from each location and the top 15 individuals advancing, it didn't leave a lot of room for error.
The biggest storyline of the day came from Camanche. The Indians' boys varsity team qualified after placing third collectively: that's a first in the history of the high school.
The Indians finished with 84 points, just three points behind meet runner-up Monticello.
"We came to Monticello with a goal and accomplished it," Camanche head coach Erin Montgomery said. "The boys ran their hearts out. All of their hard work has paid off."
Leading the effort was sophomore Dylan Darsidan, who placed third overall in just 16:40. Dodson Melchiori finished in 11th in 17:30.
Jim Sbertoli and Zach Edens both got top 25 finished, with Blake Leu Coming in the top 30.
"We aren’t done, though," Montgomery said. "We don’t just want to be a state qualifier, we want to compete and place."
On the girls side for the Indians, Markee Lowe slipped in as a senior with a 15th place finish in 21:03, qualifying as an individual for the Class 2A race.
"Markee ran a great race tonight," Montgomery said. "She worked her way up to the top 16 within the first mile. She battled her way to 15 within the next mile and held to the end. She really broke away from the Monticello girl that was gaining on her in the last 800. I’m proud of how hard she pushed to qualify."
Junior Maddy Sloane was the next finisher for the Indians, falling short of the qualifying range.
"Maddy Sloane did everything she could to keep as close to the top 15," Montgomery said. "She ran a great race. We are going to miss her positive attitude and leadership on the team."
Prince of Peace had a bit of a surprising end to their season. On the boys side, last year qualifier Payton Schnier spent most of the race near the top 10 runners, but fell behind in the last mile and ended the race ill, crossing the finish line 25th. Senior Hansi Hudson also just fell short, finishing in 22nd place in 18:43.37.
"They ran well, we had a group of them right there in the top 30," Prince of Peace head coach Owen Howard said. "We were right were we needed to be, we just kind of fell short."
The senior duo had talked about proving that the program could be successful to leave a positive legacy.
"I think the've kind of changed the mentality," Howard said. "When they first started, they weren't really competing as well as they could have. They've really matured over the years and it's push other boys to put the mileage and effort in, and their times have fallen down, too."
That doesn't mean the Irish won't have a presence at Kennedy Park next Saturday. Two girls—freshman Kaelyn Goodsman and sophomore Sophie Griffin—grabbed top 10 finishes to qualify as individuals.
Griffin ran 21:54.36 to finish 7th, which grabs the school's new 5K record. Griffin was close to qualifying last year, which makes it a little sweeter.
"I finished last year and I was crying in my dad's arms," Griffin said. "Today I hugged him and there were tears of joy instead of sadness. That felt really good."
Goodsman clocked in at 21:54.59, right behind Griffin to finish 8th.
"I've had Kaelyn for three years now and we could tell in middle school she was going to be a good runner," Howard said. "We knew she would be up there for us."
And Goodsman: "I think that I really just started trying in practices in hopes that I could get to state. I had that in the back of my mind the whole time how much I wanted to get there and how I really needed to push myself hard to be able to get to that point."
Ava Ruden finished in the top 30 for the Irish. They ran as a team for the first time this season with the help of Anabel Blount and Isabel Hansen, finishing in fourth place as a team.
Northeast junior Andrew Hilgendorf ran one of his best races to finish sixth in the meet at Monticello, grabbing himself another trip to state as well.
Clinton struggled and fell short on both fronts.
"Tonight was a bittersweet end to a successful season," Clinton head coach Kellen Schneeberger said. "While tonight's results did not go the way we had hoped, we still can look back on this season and see the growth we made. It's sad to see our seniors run their last race; however, the future of the program looks encouraging with major portions of both lineups coming back next season. "
Freshman Abby Struble had the best finish on the girls side, crossing the finish line in 23:20. Senior Lauren Buer was five seconds behind her.
"Abby and Lauren were one and two all year and they really bonded over the experience," Schneeberger said. "I hope that Lauren's leadership and work ethic not only rub off on Abby, but the rest our team as well.
"Lauren has been an awesome leader and role model for our girls. I can't say enough about what she has done for the program and for me as a coach."
Emma Milder, Vivianna Ramirez and Kaylie DeSwart all finished within a minute of each other.
For the Kings, Noah Smith was the top finisher in 18:03.
"Noah has been consistent for us at the top of the lineup and he went for it today," Schneeberger said. "At the mile mark he was in 13th; he just couldn't hold on, but gave it all he had. I can say the same for all these boys; they gave it their best today, but it just wasn't in the cards."
Parker Sirna, Conner Sattler, Kyle Gassman, Aidan Smith, Riley Nickles and Parker Manglesen followed him up in that order.
"Parker Sirna and Conner continue to compete hard and run consistently and Kyle fought for us," Schneeberger said. "Aidan Smith, Riley Nickles, and Parker Manglesen battled until the end. Parker Manglesen worked all year to become varsity in his first year and today in his first varsity race he twisted his knee, but he finished. But like the rest of these kids, he didn't give up."
Despite missing the mark on the state finals, Coach Schneeberger liked what he saw from his group.
The state meet will take place on Saturday, Oct. 27 at Kennedy Park in Fort Dodge, Iowa.