A good day to run
FORT DODGE – In its ninth trip to the state meet in 12 years, it took a team effort for the underdog Estherville Lincoln Central Armstrong Ringsted girls cross country team Saturday. They proved the doubters wrong by finishing in 11th place after being ranked last of the 15 teams entering the meet.
Dubuque Wahlert captured the 3A title with 84 points after placing third a year ago. All five of their runners finished in the top 30 – three in the top 15.
They were followed by Decorah (96), Cedar Rapids Xavier (138), Denver/Tripoli (142), Pella (152), Davenport Assumption (164), Williamsburg (178), Bishop Heelan (202), Benton Van Horne (219) and Atlantic (251).
ELCAR finished with 254 total points with runners placing 25, 40, 46, 64, 79, 89 and 97.
Traci Speltz finished first for ELCAR in a time of 16 minutes, 18 seconds. She was followed by Brooke Egeland (16:36), McKenzie Woodyard (16:43), Bailey Raska (17:12), Paige Taylor (17:28), Alyssa Ayers (17:40) and Ashley Stinar (18:19).
Speltz said the team’s success was due in part to their ability to pack together. “We were the underdogs in this race,” she said. “We ran as a team for Amy (Jensen) and were able to prove some people wrong.”
ELCAR’s lone seniors, Speltz and Egeland, ran the final race of their careers
“I’m sad that my last season is over,” said Egeland. “But I’m happy that we did well in the meet.”
Woodyard, Taylor, Ayers and Stinar all were running for the first time at the state meet.
Woodyard thought she performed well in her first trip to state. “It went a lot better than I expected that’s for sure,” she said. “I felt great out there and our team did amazing.”
Taylor felt like she ran to the best of her abilities. “I feel strong. I feel like I did the best I could and now I have something to build off of. Even though it was my first time I stayed pretty calm and it worked out for me.”
Ayers said, “The state meet was different then other meets. There’s a lot more girls out there but I think I did pretty good.”
Stinar thought the state meet was quite a challenge. “I thought the meet would be easier than it was,” she said. “I think I improved a lot from the beginning of the season until now.”
Raska was the only other ELCAR runner with state experience.
“I felt that I wasn’t quite ready at the start but I think I did pretty well,” she said. “I think our team did awesome, especially with three freshman in their first state meet.”
ELCAR coach Tina Burton felt the team performed well in the underdog role. “Finishing 11th was awesome considering they had us ranked 15th. We knew we were better than that. I’m pretty pleased with how the girls ran.
“Brooke and Traci came out in their final race and left everything out there. It was great but sad at the same time. The freshmen all did really well and Bailey probably ran her best race of the season.”