Fairfield girls second, boys third at conference
Thursday’s conference cross-country meet at Waterworks Park contained few surprises as the favored teams sprinted to victory.
On the girls’ side, that meant the Fort Madison Bloodhounds earned a conference title with 22 points, capturing five of the top nine places. Second place was very much up for grabs. The Trojans have been fairly consistent at holding onto that place at meets throughout the year. Washington and Mt. Pleasant gave them a run for their money, but Fairfield’s squad was able to eek out a silver medal with 55 points. Mt. Pleasant finished with 60 and Washington finished with 72.
Keokuk sent three runners to the meet. Five runners are required to earn points, so Keokuk earned no team points.
Mt. Pleasant dominated the boys’ division as it had all season, finishing with 16 points, just one point shy of a perfect score. In fact, the Panthers’ sixth-place runner, Dalton Krum, whose score does not count, was faster than every other non-Panther at the meet except Fort Madison’s Aaron Steffensmeier, who finished in fifth, two places ahead of Krum.
Though catching Mt. Pleasant was out of the question, the Trojan boys set their sights on a more manageable goal of closing the gap with the oft-second place finishers, Fort Madison. During a meet in Mt. Pleasant on Sept. 20, the Trojans finished with 77 points to the Bloodhounds’ 60. At Thursday’s meet, however, the Bloodhounds put a little more distance between themselves and the host school as they earned 57 points to Fairfield’s 81. Washington had 94 points and Keokuk had 136.
“I could not be happier with how all the kids ran last night,” said Trojan head coach Jerrod Belzer. “We set goals individually and as a team, and I know we met many of those goals. Team-wise, we finished right where we wanted to. We knew coming in that we weren’t realistically going to beat any of the teams that we hadn’t beaten all year, but we still wanted to take care of business and finish in front of the teams we knew we could beat.”
Ashley Bloomquist must have eaten an energy bar just before the race because she had one of the best times of her career. Bloomquist ran a 20:18 at Wellman last week and a 20:11 a week before that in Washington. She shaved more than a minute off those times Thursday with an 18:59, good for fourth place.
Ashlyn Elmore earned seventh place in a time of 20:39. Fairfield’s other varsity runners were: Maggie Ferrel, 10th, 21:08; Nicole Buch, 15th, 21:38; Hailey Pohren-Gevock, 19th, 22:00; Shannon Morrissey, 27th, 23:22; and Emily Hanna, 29th, 24:58.
For the junior varsity girls, the places and times were as follows: Emma Rosner, fifth, 22:40; Ella Pollet, seventh, 23:41; Savannah Kelly, eighth, 23:49; Kylee Marlay, 10th, 24:11; Anuja Pharasi, 11th, 24:17; Mikaela Lunsford, 20th, 26:43; and Katrina Cecchini, 21st, 28:21.
The middle school girls finished sixth out of seven teams. Yana Gaskell ran all the way to a gold-medal finish as she won the conference championship with a time of 12:51 in the 2-mile race. Other finishers for Fairfield were: Nellie Higdon, 40th, 16:00; Delaney Breen, 42nd, 16:25; Samara McLain, 43rd, 16:43; Gerda Fisk, 57th, 19:08; and Devon Duke, 59th, 21:29.
Gannon Courtright has been a model of consistency for the Trojan boys’ this year. Courtright has routinely placed in the top 10, and he continued that trend Thursday by placing 10th with a time of 17:19.88. Washington’s Evan Horak beat Courtright in a photo finish, crossing the line just 13-hundredths of a second before the Fairfield junior.
Dylan Harvey was next in line for Fairfield, stopping the watch at 17:55 for 15th place. The other Trojans on varsity were: Darren Roberts, 17th, 18:17; Mark Diers, 18th, 18:32; Bryan Wilkins, 21st, 18:47; Elijah Parr, 24th, 19:13; and Dalton Rippey, 25th, 19:27.
“We had some big races last night from Dylan Harvey and Maggie Ferrel in particular,” said the coach. “You need some runners to step up in these meets and those two certainly helped their teams. I’m really happy for our all-conference runners as well. The SEC is small as far as number of teams, but we have some great runners, so to make the top 10 is a special accomplishment.”
Mt. Pleasant dominated the junior varsity race, too, taking the top four spots. Jordan Town was Fairfield’s fastest runner with a 19:40, good for ninth. The other Trojans on JV were: Michael Holt, 11th, 19:51; Shane Morrissey, 13th, 20:28; Jonah Cooper, 15th, 20:52; Connor Ryan, 19th, 21:12; Carter Spalla, 20th, 21:15; Caleb Heisel, 22nd, 21:24; Charles Heisel, 23rd, 21:40; and David Burnett, 26th, 23:14.
Alex Forrest was the Trojans’ quickest middle school runner, finishing second with a time of 11:44. As a team, the Trojans finished third of seven. The other Trojan runners were: Blake Holden, ninth, 12:25; Jakob Watson, 12th, 12:42; Isaac Rosales, 15th, 12:59; Kevin Kretz, 16th, 13:01; Aiden Daugherty, 26th, 13:31; Brecken Courtright, 29th, 13:35; River Patterson, 34th, 13:48; Zach Wise, 41st, 14:16; Toby Oliver, 45th, 14:28; Ethan McReynolds, 46th, 14:31; Caden Septer, 47th, 14:33; Kaidyn Mickels, 52nd, 14:57; Carter Thompson, 55th, 15:12; Tommy Jones, 59th, 15:36; Brenden Marcellus, 65th, 16:05; and Aidan Flanagan, 72nd, 17:03.
The varsity teams head to Solon Thursday for the district meet, which will determine who moves on to state. The top 15 individuals and top three teams will advance.