Pekin seventh-graders win state title
ANKENY – Davis Eidahl has built an impressive dynasty during his tenure as head coach of Pekin’s high school cross-country team. The boys just won their third conference title in a row and the girls have accomplished feet an astonishing nine times in a row.
A large part of the Panthers’ success is having high expectations of young runners in seventh and eighth grade. Pekin’s middle schoolers competed at the state junior high cross-country meet Saturday in Ankeny, where they logged some of the best times of their career.
“They all saved their best race for the state meet,” said Eidahl. “They all stepped up, and most had personal records.”
Having a state meet for junior high cross-country was a novel idea a few decades ago. Eidahl recalled that the first state meet featured just 30 runners. This year, it featured more than 1,000.
The seventh-grade girls walked away from the meet with a state championship after placing four of their runners in the top 20. The young Panthers were led by Lily Fariss, who finished the 2-mile race in 13:50, putting her in third place. The other seventh-grade girls were: Lauren Dersheil, 15th, 14:23; Maddie Black, 17th, 14:34; Mia Clark, 18th, 14:37; Lexi Crawford, 41st, 15:31; Jess Holmes, 44th, 15:47; Taylor Sylvester, 45th, 15:57; Kaden Fisk, 49th, 16:22; Joey Johnson, 56th, 17:45; and Adalia Keith, 63rd, 24:46.
The seventh-grade boys earned seventh place, led by Quinton Gaines, who finished the race in 13:41 for 24th place. The other young Panthers were: Caleb Bennett, 28th, 14:08; K.J. Rohr, 38th, 15:05; and Michael Emstinger, 53rd, 20:28.
The eighth-grade girls had a good showing, too, finishing in fourth place. Emily Laumeyer finished just a split second ahead of teammate Taylor Parmenter for 31st place. Both girls were credited with a time of 14:54. Sarah Eubanks ran a 15:26 for 38th place. Gracie Baetsle was 46th with a 16:02, and Kaitlyn Glosser ran a 17:13 for 56th place.
The eighth-grade boys finished in eighth place. No places were given for the individual runners. The runners and their times were: Brady Millikin, 11:38; Michael Jones, 13:49; Cole Earnest, 13:59; and Colton Comstock, 16:07.