—by Todd Thorson

The Roland-Story girls’ cross country team made it four years in a row in earning a trip to the state meet at the qualifying meet held on the ISU course in Ames last Thursday, Oct. 24. They finished third behind champion and host Gilbert and runner up East Marshall to claim the final spot.

Senior Sarah Lunn led the way with a 10th place finish, clocking in a 16:23.90 on the 4K course. Anna Halstead came in 22nd at 17:12.86. Cathy Narigon was right behind in 24th place, finishing in 17:15.64. Tara Rylant was 29th, crossing the finish line in 17:36.34. And Taylor Smith posted a 33rd place finish with a time of 17:46.25. Traci Marienau and Bridget Concannon also competed for the Norsemen.

The notable performance of the night for the Norsemen had to be Tara Rylant, who ran 1:28 faster than she did one week earlier at the HOIAC meet, which was run on the same course.

"I was very proud of these young ladies!" said Coach Chad Gilroy. "The number 1 to 2 runner from last year’s team decided not to compete this year, so I figured it was going to be difficult to make it (to state) this season. But they showed a lot of grit and tenacity by stepping up and making it happen."

Gilbert dominated the race, placing four of their runners in the top four slots of the individual standings. The Tigers ran away from runner up East Marshall 21-97. The Norsemen (118) were 11 points in back of EM and 13 ahead of fourth place finisher South Tama (131). Grace Gibbons (14:55.55), Carly Rahn (15:33.41), Karli Rastetter (16:01.28) and Sadie Timms (16:03.28) led Gilbert to the title. Rounding out the 2A field were CMB (148), Dike-New Hartford (150), Clarion-Goldfield (170), South Hardin (190), St. Edmond (207), Hampton-Dumont (244), West Marshall (252) and Central Springs (295).

The R-S boys, unfortunately, were without one of their top runners, as Dakota Rusher was out with an illness. Spencer Dedic and Thomas Wilgenbusch paced the Norse with 29th and 39th place finishes, respectively, in the 5K race. Spencer posted a time of 19:01.80, while Thomas crossed the finish in 19:26.68. Cole Johnson placed 57th with a time of 20:18.98. Reid Selby finished in 20:21.37, good for 58th place. And Tavender Jones posted a 66th place finish with a time of 20:34.98. Also competing for the Norse were Andrew Smith and Tyler Greenhaw.

"On average, the guys ran 30 seconds faster than the previous week at the HOIAC," commented Gilroy. "That was great to see, and they need to be proud of their efforts. (And) the good part for Dakota is that he is only a freshman and will have three more years to get to the state meet."

The Gilbert boys also claimed the title, edging East Marshall by 20 points, 48-68. Wesley Greder (16:52.26) and Thomas Pollard (16:52.56) placed one-two for the Tigers. St. Edmond was third with 95 points, followed by Dike-New Hartford (146), CMB (152), South Tama (154), WM (218), Forest City (239), Roland-Story (249), South Hardin (254), Central Springs (269), Hampton-Dumont (271) and Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont (282).

"I am extremely proud of how both our teams practiced, competed and believed this season," concluded Gilroy. "They are great athletes and even better human beings."

The state cross country meet is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 2 at Fort Dodge.