The first of the Clinton Herald Athletic Performers of the Year (CHAPY) finalists are picked, highlighting some of the best from the 2021 cross country season.

Northeast offers three finalists in the group of runners up for the CHAPY Award for Cross Country runner of the year for both boys and girls.

Here are the finalists:

BOYS Aidan Gruver, Senior, Easton Valley

Gruver redeemed himself his final cross country season. After missing the 2020 state meet, Gruver capped his career with a state appearance for the River Hawks.

Easton Valley’s Aidan Gruver capped his cross country career in Fort Dodge Saturday afternoon.

Gruver narrowly missed the top 50 in field of 150 runners. He finished in 17:53, 52nd place (unofficially).

Gruver was a state qualifier as a sophomore and narrowly missed qualifying his junior season. He qualified as a senior.

Gruver played in the 8-man football playoffs on Friday night, helping Easton Valley to a 60-7 win in the second round. He turned around and ran his race less than 24 hours later.

“There is no better feeling than knowing that all the work you have put into a sport pays off in you going to state,” Gruver said earlier this season.

Carter Jargo, Junior, Northeast

Jargo was the sole state qualifier for the Rebels on the boys’ side.

Carter Jargo was running his first year in Fort Dodge, and finished 45th in the Class 2A boys’ contest. Jargo’s state time was 17:42.23.

“I had a really good experience honestly,” Jargo said. “Just with Cenady [Soenksen] and everyone else being out there, they made it easy and my nerves weren’t as high I guess. I thought I did pretty good for my debut.

“At first, I was very nervous to see how I would do,” Jargo said. “After finishing, I was just proud knowing I made it in general. When I looked at all of the runners running, I thought well, this is cool.”

Marcus Blount, Junior, Prince of Peace

Blount finished the year with his third straight trip to Fort Dodge.

“I’m not fully satisfied on my place or my time,” Blount said after his race Saturday. :But I’m excited to end in Fort Dodge. The results are the results.”

Blount crossed the line in 17:31.20, good for 28th in the field (unofficially). It was the third consecutive trip for Blount, who will come back as a top runner his senior season.

“I think I’m kind of behind where I wanted to be this year,” Blount said. “I’ll just have to try to work harder next year to get my times lower. That’s one thing that motivates me but also going out four times in a row would be awesome as well.”

The Irish were led by Blount, and sported enough numbers for a boys team for the first time in Blount’s high school career. The Irish are hoping to be competitive as a group next year, led by Blount’s experience.

“It’s definitely a different experience having a team,” Blount said. “They make the meets more fun and I’m excited for next year when we really push to do well as a team.”

Blount spent a lot of the season ranked in the top runners in Class 1A. Although that wasn’t where he finished in the 1A race this season, he leaves plenty to look forward to as a senior.

“You can never be too disappointed when you end your season at a state meet like that,” Prince of Peace head coach Owen Howard said. “It wasn’t exactly what we wanted but it is what it is – you finished on the biggest stage that there is.”

GIRLS Cenady Soenksen, Junior, Northeast

Soenksen qualified for her third consecutive state meet in Class 2A this season as a junior, leading a talented group of Rebels all year.

Soenksen was the top runner for the Northeast girls team all season and has been her las three years. In the 2021 race, she finished 47th in the Class 2A girls’ race.

Soenksen clocked in at 20:48.86 at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course.

Camryn Sattler, Sophomore, Clinton

Sattler led the River Queens all season and picked up her second straight state berth in Class 4A.

Sattler finished 33rd in the stateat Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge. In 2020, she finished 55th in Class 4A, jumping up 22 places.

“I went out perfect,” Sattler said. “I didn’t go too fast, didn’t go too slow and put myself in a good spot. The second mile, I ran with it.”

She also shaved 16 seconds off of her time from the previous year. Sattler crossed the finish line at 19:44.06. She finished her 2020 race in 20:00 flat, just in the top half of the 4A state field.

Sattler was the River Queens’ only state competitor this year and last. She earned first team all-conference honors in the Mississippi Athletic Conference Championships two weeks back and then grabbed her second consecutive state berth last week.

After qualifying as a freshman, Sattler set her sights on improving her standing in Class 4A. That included a tighter training regimen and more focus on the intricacies of her race.

“Over the summer, we did less mileage and put in a little more speed work,” Sattler said. “To make sure I was my best at the end of the season. I was a little iffy at the beginning, but I had full trust in my coaches. It was exactly what we wanted.”

Natalie Krogman, Junior, Northeast

Krogman didn’t pick up a state berth this year, but was just two places away from a state-qualifying spot in the Class 2A girls’ field.

Krogman finished 17th in the state-qualifying meet, running her final race of hte year in 21:11.

“I think they’re finally coming into their stride,” Northeast head coach Trenton Weaver said about the girls earlier this year. “They’re realizing they want to take it seriously. This year, it’s started to open their eyes and they’ve seen the potential.”

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