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Newman Catholic's Grace Henrich is eager to begin the cross country season with a roster full of returners. 

The Newman Catholic Knights swept the Top of Iowa Conference East Division titles at NIACC on Thursday.

Junior Grace Henrich led the charge for the girls in eighth overall with a time of 21:52.0. Team standings were broken down by division and where runners placed in that division.

“I felt like starting out I was able to keep a competitive pace and there were people that were right there with me,” Henrich said. “So, I just kind of ran fast to pass them so the whole beginning of the race was really good for me. The wind is really bad here, but I was able to still sprint really fast at the end.”

Following Henrich was freshman Josie Fritz in 11th with a time of 22:21.3, freshman Zoey Thompson at 22nd with a time of 22:49.1. Junior Erin Smith finished with a time of 23:03.6, freshman Lilly Stockberger finished with a time of 23:12.8 and sophomore Chloe Nelson with a time of 23:35.1.

“The girls haven’t won one in 10 years,” head coach Mike Schutt said. “So, the freshmen girls have been running really well for us the last couple of weeks and figured it was us or Nashua and those four girls did great. Grace Henrich did great.”

As a team, the Newman girls topped the TIC East with 50 points, Nashua-Plainfield came in second with 55 points and Osage came in third with 71 points.

Henrich looks towards next week’s districts with high goals.

“We want to run really well at Eagle Grove and make it to state as a team,” Henrich said. “My PR is 20:56, last two meets I was two seconds off both times, so I know I can definitely get there. I got my PR freshman year at districts, so I hope I’m feeling well to get that.”

Topping the girls TIC West Division was Eagle Grove with 30 points. Forest City took second with 63 points and GHV took third with 83 points.

Leading the Newman Catholic boys for their first-ever conference title was senior Isaac Fettkether, who took sixth overall with a time of 18:17.8.

“All the boys have put in so much time since last year,” Schutt said. “They just missed going to state and just missed winning this conference meet. So, they knew they were all coming back and put in a ton of time running and seeing it paying off. This week was one of their big goals and next week will be one of their big goals.”

Juniors Stephen Ringo, Jacob McBride, and freshman Caleb Rodning finished back-to-back-to-back in 17th, 18th and 19th. Ringo and McBridge each finished at 18:39.0 and Rodning finished with a time of 18:42.1. Junior Jacob Schutt finished as the fifth runner for Newman Catholic with a time of 19:19.9.

“I think we were all pushing each other,” Fettkether said. “It helps when you can see each other in the race. I think that really helps us get better places as a team. Not my personal best, but I feel like I made mental improvement because I was really pushing myself to not let other people catch me and stay close to the person ahead of me.”

Newman’s team-effort racked up 31 points for the TIC East title, Osage came in second with 67 points and West Fork in third with 73 points.

But this is just a step for the Knights. Fettkther knows his team wants more than a conference title out of this season.

“We definitely want to get to state,” Fettkether said. “That was a goal of us freshman year, and I know that as a team we’ve definitely been striving for that so first or second place at districts would be great.”

Led by Reece Smith's runner-up finish, GHV topped the TIC West with 25 points. Forest City finished in second with 52 points and Eagle Grove finished in third with 60 points.

​Reach sports reporter Leah Vann at 641-421-0526.

Follow her on twitter at @GG_LeahVann


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