With some cross country runners across the state already off and running, and more to come Tuesday, here's a look a five boys and five girls runners to watch in the area:
Gavin Connell, Charles City
Connell wrapped up his junior season with a nice showing at the Class 3A state cross country meet as he finished 53rd in 17 minutes, 19.8 seconds in his third trip to state. He’ll be the top runner for an always-strong Comet team again this season.
Eric Faught, Clear Lake
Faught was the top runner for Clear Lake last year at the 2A state meet as he took home 14th in 16:59.2, which helped the Lions grab eighth place as a team.
Sam Pedelty, Clear Lake
While Faught may have been the top finisher for Clear Lake at the state meet, he and Pedelty traded higher finishes throughout the season – a good problem for a team to have. Pedelty finished 39th in 17:32.3 at state. In one performance already this season, he ran to first in a meet at Hampton.
Carson Rygh, Lake Mills
Rygh made a splash as a freshman at the Class 1A state meet last year by taking home a 16th-place finish in 17:14.2. He comes into this season ranked eighth in the IATC’s 1A rankings.
Reece Smith, GHV
Smith has been an outstanding runner over the course of his first two seasons for the Cardinals, and last year he nearly captured state gold as a sophomore but had to settle for second place in 16:02.2. He’s ranked No. 1 in 2A and the Cards are the 10th-ranked team. Look for more big things from Smith again this year.
Mia Knudsen, Osage
Knudsen burst onto the scene last year as a freshman to play a key role in helping Osage place ninth in the 2A state meet. Knudsen placed 44th as an individual at state with a time of 20:49.3.
Sheridan LaCoste, Rockford
LaCoste made the state meet for the first time as a junior last season and left her mark. She scored a runner-up finish in Class 1A in 19:41, and missed first place by less than three seconds. LaCoste comes into the season ranked No. 4 in 1A.
Whitney Martin, Charles City
Charles City ran to its best placement ever last year at the state meet as it finished third in Class 3A, and Whitney Martin was a key contributor to that success. As a sophomore, Martin turned a 26th-place finish in 19:57.5. She’ll start her junior year ranked 19th in 3A.
Chloe Nelson, Newman
It was a memorable finish for the Newman girls last year, and then-freshman Chloe Nelson played a big role in that as Newman placed seventh in 1A. In her first state meet, Nelson ran to 20th in 20:41.9. Nelson enters her sophomore season ranked 21st in 1A, and the Knights are ranked 11th as a team.
McKenna Weaver, West Fork
Weaver worked her tail off to climb into medal position last year to finish 10th in 1A in 20:22.6, and she should be in good position to do so again. That finish also helped West Fork take 13th as a team. Weaver, a junior, is ranked 11th in 1A, and the Warhawks are ranked 15th as a team.