PANORA — It has been 16 years since Praire City-Monroe had a girl qualify for the state cross country meet.
Last Thursday, freshman Rachel Stafford ran a strong race in the Class 2A state qualfiying meet hosted by Panorama in Panora. Stafford captured ninth place, running the 4K race in 16 minutes, 46 seconds.
Stafford’s season-long running mate, Rachel Peter, a junior, came up short of qualifying. Peter finished 14th in 17:15. The top 10 individuals and top three teams advance from the girls’ district to the state meet.
“I want nothing more than state to become a tradition here. It was really tough to see Rachel Peter not get in after all of her hard work this year. She was very close last year and this year, too,” said Eric Karr, PCM head coach.
“Panorama’s course is tough. A lot of it goes through the woods with vary narrow passages. There were numerous hills with little to no grass cover. Going in our expectations were high, but so were the uncertainties. We knew there were going to be some really fast runners and a couple of stacked team.”
PCM’s Kayla Schakel finished 56th in 19:58. Amber Beener placed 79th in 24:51.
“I think with the return of the this year’s team, this year’s eighth graders, and hopefully a couple of first-time runners, the high school girls should be a very competitive team next year,” Karr said.
Senior Matt Chizek has been the top runner all season for the Mustang boys. He finished his high school cross country career, placing 21st in the 2A boys’ regional race. He ran the 5K course in 18:43. Chris Ellens was 74th in 21:10, followed by Mark Bruxvoort at 92nd in 23:07, Trenton Howard at 93rd in 23:23, and Connor Brey at 96th in 24:05.
“Matt led the way for the boys once again, but unfortunately he didn’t place high enough to qualify for the state meet. We were hopeful that he would make it, but we knew that he would have to run the best race of his career. His points will definitely be missed next year,” Karr said.
Stafford competes in the Class 2A girls’ state cross country race this Saturday in Fort Dodge.