FORT DODGE — Cold with a chance of snow? That’s running weather in Iowa.
Today, the best runners in the state will converge on Fort Dodge for the annual state cross country meet at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course, and runners from across North Iowa will be among those chasing down their dreams.
Garner-Hayfield-Ventura junior Reece Smith leads a big contingent of boys from the area into the meet as one of the favorites in Class 2A. He comes into the meet ranked second in Class 2A behind only Gable Sieperda of George-Little Rock/Central Lyon.
Smith is already a veteran of the state meet having helped the Cardinals to a state title in 2015, and then finished as runner up as an individual in last year’s race. His goal all year long as been to avenge that finish.
The Cardinals are also back as a team for the fourth straight year. Senior Ray Cataldo has enjoyed a nice season as well, frequently coming in behind Smith in most races. It’ll come down to how the remaining five runners — Jake Hejlik, Dalton Kelly, Nathan Larson, Blake Lynch and Lucas Rayons — fair as far as the Cards’ team chances go.
The Clear Lake boys are making their third straight appearance as a team, but this year will be their first in that streak running in Class 3A.
Sam Pedelty and Eric Faught have been the Lions’ leaders in a season which as seen them take home a pile of meet titles. They’ll be the two chasing medal positions again today.
After them, the remaining Lions have done their part in moving through the field to help the Lions score as low as possible. Ike Branstad, Justin Wright and Dylan Schuchard have been consistent scorers, and Karter Anderson and Lewis Callaway have improved as the year has gone along as well.
Charles City had three boys qualify in the 3A race, but the team failed to punch its ticket through.
Senior Gavin Connell is making his fourth trip down to state. Joining him this year are juniors Mason Deeter and Nick Litterer, who came in right behind Connell at last week’s state-qualifying meet.
Algona’s Trey Engen made it as an individual as well after placing 79th a year ago in 3A.
Lake Mills’ Carson Rygh leads a field of five area boys into the 1A race. Rygh just missed placing as a freshman a year ago and has had an eye on a medal finish this time around. He’s ranked 18th in 1A.
Nashua-Plainfield senior Brock Dietz finished just behind Rygh at the state-qualifying meet and he could be in medal contention as well as he comes in ranked 23rd.
Central Springs senior Ellis Regan has put a nice cap on his cross country career with a second straight appearance at the state’s biggest meet. He finished 82nd as a junior.
Rounding out the 1A field for area individuals are Newman Catholic’s Isaac Fettkether and North Iowa’s Jordan Boekelman, who are each making their first state appearances. Fettkether was the first individual to qualify for Newman since 2010
Also making his first appearance in Class 4A is Mason City junior Michael Rowe, who was 13th in last week’s state-qualifying meet.
On the girls’ side, Newman Catholic has become a state meet regular. The Knights are one of three girls teams to qualify for the 1A state meet in each of the past five years. This year, led by junior Grace Henrich, who also qualified as an individual, the Knights are hoping to move up the charts after taking seventh a year ago. Running for the Knights will be Henrich, Josie Fritz, Zoey Thompson, Chloe Nelson, Lilly Stockberger, Kailah Thompson and Erin Smith.
Class 1A is also loaded on the individual side, leading off with Rockford senior Sheridan LaCoste, who is chasing a title after placing second last year.
Northwood-Kensett’s Lindsey Davidson has been on LaCoste’s heels for most of the season so look for her to be medal chasing as well, and St. Ansgar junior Addy Carlson could be right there as well. Carlson was 42nd as a sophomore. Lastly is Nashua-Plainfield’s Aubry Eick, who is running in her first state meet.
The Class 3A girls team race will be an interesting one to watch as Charles City, which took home third last year, is back with another good team. Charles City, ranked 10th, is lead by freshman Kiki Connell, sophomore MacKenzy Bilharz and junior Whitney Martin. Also running for the Comets are Adison Olson, Gillian King and Mariah McKenzie.
In Class 2A, Hampton-Dumont senior Patty Teggatz is closing out her career with a second straight state appearance. At the other end of the spectrum, Garner-Hayfield-Ventura freshman is kicking off her career with an appearance in her first year in high school.
The day begins at 11 a.m. with the 4A girls race, and each class, boys and girls, will start in half-hour increments after that.