GARNER — It was mission accomplished for three area cross country teams on Thursday at the Class 2A state-qualifying meet held at Garner Golf Course.
The Garner-Hayfield-Ventura and Clear Lake boys finished first and second, respectively, while the Osage girls finished second as each qualified for the state cross country meet.
“I’m so proud of the guys,” said Garner-Hayfield-Ventura coach Jeff Short, whose team won the boys team title with 46 points. “They trained so hard to get back to state and now they get the opportunity to bring home another state title. I thought the whole team ran hard and I’m excited for them.”
Clear Lake coach Nick DiMarco, who saw his boys team finish eight points behind GHV while South Winneshiek took third with 61 points, was also one proud coach.
“I’m so incredibly proud of the boys,” the coach said. “To make state again, wow. What a performance by the entire team.”
Meanwhile, South Winneshiek took home the girls team title with 39 points, Osage was second with 67 points and Emmetsburg also qualified for state with 72 points.
“We have a lot of veteran runners who have been to the state meet before,” Osage girls coach Brent Jennings said. “They knew this was a big meet to show what they’re made of. They ran very well and did what they needed to do to make sure we’re running next weekend. The important thing is making sure you qualify.”
Megan Mooberry paced the Green Devils with a third-place finish in 19 minutes, 51.43 seconds while teammate Mia Knudsen was fourth in 19:59.08 as they finished behind South Winneshiek’s Josie Kriener and Felicity Taylor.
“Coming in I wanted to beat them,” Mooberry said. “I never go into a meet thinking about getting third. I knew they would give me a good run and when they got out in front I just focused on running my own race and sticking with my plan.”
Meanwhile, Knudsen’s goal was to stick with her mentor.
“I usually try sticking with Megan for as long as I can,” Knudsen said. “I just had to believe that I could do it, and it feels pretty great to make state as a freshman.”
Breana Barker also was in the top 15 for Osage, finishing 11th in 20:43.38 and was proud to accomplish both an individual and team goal.
“I knew we had a good shot of making state as a team but I was also trying to count how many girls were ahead of me,” Barker said. “Finishing in the top 15 was something I was really striving for since I was an individual qualifier last year. I’m very happy with my performance.”
Hampton-Dumont’s Patty Teggatz was also an individual qualifier, finishing seventh in 20:26.22.
After missing out on the state meet last year, it was all about redemption for the junior.
“I’m just over the moon,” Teggatz said. “I know the top 15 make it but my goal all along was to finish in the top 10. I finished exactly where I expected to finish and I knew in order to do that I had to be running in the 20s.”
While Teggatz knows that feeling of just missing out on a state berth, Clear Lake’s Katelyn Moore let out a sigh of relief after capturing the last individual spot with a 15th-place finish in 20:57.68.
“It’s a great feeling and I’m very excited,” Moore said. “When I was getting close to the end I knew I had to get it done or else my season could be over. I worked really hard to get to this point and I’m so proud of myself.”
Meanwhile, area runners took home the top five spots in the boys’ race as Reece Smith won in 15:57.86, his second straight race under 16 minutes.
“Having back-to-back sub-16 minute races, that’s where I need to be at this time of the year,” Smith said. “All of the training I’ve done is starting to pay off and I’m looking forward to running another fast time at state next week.”
GHV’s Logan Dalbeck was second in 16:38.16 while Ray Cataldo (fourth in 17:04.72) and Austin Siegrist (15th in 17:47.50) gave the Cardinals four top-15 runners.
“Reece does such a great job pushing me to be a better runner,” Dalbeck said. “I try my best to keep up with him but when he decides to take off I know that’s when I just have to focus on running my own race.”
Clear Lake’s Sam Pedelty was third in 16:58.39 while Eric Faught (fifth in 17:10.38) and Ike Branstad (seventh in 17:25.91) gave the Lions three runners in the top 10.
“My goal for the whole race was to stick with those two top Garner kids,” Pedelty said. “I’m proud I was able to do that.”
Osage’s Ben Huftalin also had a top-10 finish, finishing eighth in 17:29.59, while Forest City’s Grady Hovenga also qualified with a 12th-place finish in 17:34.58.
“It’s really exciting to accomplish this again,” Huftalin said. “I knew that if I could stick with some of the Clear Lake and Garner kids that I’d be in a good spot.”
Added Hovenga, “I worked hard for this all year. It feels great to accomplish what I set out to do.”