AMES — In their final Heart of Iowa Conference cross country meets, two Collins-Maxwell-Baxter seniors made the most out of their opportunities on Monday evening.
Running on her favorite course, Hayley Leonard finished seventh overall in the girls race, while Aaron Ward took 12th in the boys' to give the Raiders two all-conference runners. The Raider girls also took third overall behind conference champion Gilbert and second-place South Hamilton.
"We ran pretty much how I thought we would, and a medalist in each race is pretty good," CMB coach Jerry Meinerts said. "I'm really happy with the girls team's performance taking third. With five ranked teams in there, we knew we could finish anywhere from second to sixth. It just so happens we ran third tonight and did a pretty good job."
Leonard's position stayed somewhat consistent throughout the race because of some high winds on the course, and she was able to finish with a time of 16 minutes, 38 seconds. Two other Raiders turned in top-20 performances as Chasity Moody was 16th in 17:12 and Anne Deutsch was 19th in 17:28.
"The wind slowed me down a little bit, but we used it to our advantage when we could," Leonard said. "I felt great going in and was super excited with the competition because we've all been pretty close lately."
Kayla Hennick narrowly missed a top-20 finish by taking 22nd in 17:37 and the Raider girls were rounded out by Stephanie Twohey (30th, 17:56), Chantel Maxwell (38th, 18:29) and Mackenzie Klemme (18:32).
After spending most of the race back from where he ended up, Ward finished the boys race strong to earn a time of 18:32 for 12th place and a medal. Like most of the meets this season, sophomore Mark Deutsch came in close behind him at 19:08 for 20th, and then the Raiders saw a dropoff. Drake Caple was next across the line in 81st at 21:52, Connor Johnson took 84th in 22:01 and Jordan Rekemeyer finished in 24:30.
The Raiders now have one last regular-season meet before districts at Panorama-Panora next Thursday. Since the team doesn't seem to have any specific goals as of now, getting back to full health will probably be the top priority.
"We'll just try to keep everyone fresh and fine tune some things," Meinerts said. "We've got a couple of shin splints and things like that, so we're just working on getting healthy for next Thursday."
Prairie City-Monroe and Colfax-Mingo also competed in the meet, although individual times weren't made available for them as of press time. As has been the case all year, sophomore Rachel Peter and senior Rhett Gainey led the Mustangs in the girls and boys races, respectively, while sophomore Kennedi Hostetter took top billing for the Tigerhawk girls, who took ninth in the team standings.
"I honestly didn't know what to expect since there were a few teams here we hadn't run against more than once," PCM coach Eric Karr said. "You never know how a team will improve throughout the season, but time-wise, we did pretty good."
In the middle school races, PCM's Blaise Winegardner was beat to the finish line for the first time this season to take second, while Rachel Stafford took third in the girls race. Karr is viewing Winegardner's finish as a positive since he finally was able to compete with someone directly after dominating his competition for most of this season.
The Mustangs will run at Saydel this week before preparing for districts at Panorama with CMB, while the Tigerhawks will run their district meet in Marshalltown.