Runners fought through the rolling hills at Eagle Grove for their spots at state on Thursday. Only the top 15 individuals and top three teams would punch their tickets.
Senior Sheridan LaCoste held a strong stride in the top three throughout the race, never letting up. From the finish, LaCoste’s thick, black glasses became visible as she glided into a third overall placing at 20 minutes, 31.08 seconds.
“Top three is really good. This course was brutal with the hills,” LaCoste said. “I got side cramps way bad, but I just had to keep pushing through because I knew I wanted that spot.”
LaCoste is at the top of every meet’s list throughout the season, and people recognize her by her signature look.
“I cannot see without my glasses,” LaCoste said. “At the West Fork meet, it was raining, so I did put my contacts in behind my glasses. So, I do wear contacts, but I usually just wear my glasses because I don’t know, I just can’t stick my finger in my eye.”
With the top three finish, LaCoste will be the only Rockford competitor at state. Her goal is to make the top 10.
Behind LaCoste was Northwood-Kensett’s Lindsey Davidson, taking fourth overall with a time of 20:46.18.
“This was my first time (at Eagle Grove),” Davidson said. “I was trying to get out in front of the pack at the beginning and I was trying not to get to far away. I just kept pushing and attack the hills.”
Davidson will also be the only one representing her school at the state meet, hoping to build on her performance to increase her mile pace.
While most saw the hills as tough, St. Ansgar junior Addy Carlson embraced the challenge.
“The hills were nice because it’s not a boring course,” Carlson said. “I like the hills because then it’s not just flat and I don’t like get bored. The hills helped a lot, going down them just helped to get a boost to go back up them and mentally, it was my strongest race.”
Carlson finished in sixth with a time of 21:08.16, also punching her individual ticket to state.
Topping off the individual state-qualifiers was junior Grace Henrich, edging her way in at No. 13 with a time of 21:49.03.
The Newman Catholic girls would also qualify as a team, taking third overall with 119 points behind No. 1 Eagle Grove and No. 2 Winneshiek. Nashua-Plainfield would miss the state-qualifying mark at No. 4, but will send Aubrey Eick for individual competition. Eick finished in ninth with a time of 21:22.33.
Also for the Knights, Josie Fritz was 23rd, Zoey Thompson placed 24th, Chloe Nelson was 37th, and Lilly Stockberger placed 38th.
Lake Mills sophomore Carson Rygh would get things started for the boys, striding into fourth with a time of 17:15.75.
“I’m happy getting fourth. It’s a hard course here and I’m glad it’s over, happy to be on to state,” Rygh said. “My goal is to get a medal at state this year. Last year I was 16, so I was one place away from getting a medal. That’s what’s really driven me this year to get better and better is that feeling that you’re so close, but so far away from getting a medal.”
Nashua-Plainfield’s Brock Dietz followed right behind Rygh with a time of 17:25.76.
Central Springs' Ellis Regan qualified for the second straight year after taking 10th place in 17:51.87.
Newman Catholic junior Isaac Fettkether finished in 12th with a time of 17:57.56. But he had mixed emotions after his race, knowing that his team didn’t qualify.
“I think I did good because I think I beat my time here from last time by about 20 something seconds,” Fettkether said. “It doesn’t feel good (as a team) because we wanted it so bad. We tried so hard and we worked really hard for it, but we didn’t perform to the best of our abilities this meet.”
Finally, North Iowa's Jordan Boekelman just made it in as an individual as he placed 14th in 17:59.15.
The Knights came in fourth overall with 100 points. Madrid, South Winneshiek and Ogden would take the top three respectively.