COLFAX — After watching his twin sister Brenna win the girls’ race earlier in the night, Baxter junior Ian Thomson decided he didn’t want to be left out.
For the first time in their high school careers, the Baxter twins were both winners in their respective races, and the victories led the Bolts to the traveling trophy championship at the first-ever Colfax-Mingo Tigerhawk Cross Country Invitational.
The first meet held in Colfax gave medals to the top 25 finishers in the high school races. The two team champions were the Baxter girls and the Woodward Academy boys. The Bolts were given the traveling trophy based on results from both divisions combined.
“The girls expected to win. You never know for sure, but we expected to be at the top,” Baxter coach Dennis Vaughn said. (The Thomson twins) are competitive in general. Ian thought he had a shot to win it, and he’s thrilled that his sister could win, too. I am sure watching her win helped motivate him even more. But they are both pretty motivated runners.”
Lynnville-Sully’s girls were the runner-up, but the Hawks did not have a complete boys team. Woodward Academy does not have a girls team. Neither does Saydel, which was the runner-up in the boys division.
The Baxter girls won the team title with 46 points. The Bolts did so without their No. 2 runner, junior Lauren Ratliff, finishing the race.
Thomson won the girls race with a time of 20 minutes, 58.34 seconds. Colfax-Mingo’s Abbey McConeghey and Lynnville-Sully’s Mary Kate Shaver gave area teams a clean sweep at the top.
Baxter senior Ashlee Johnson was fourth and Bolts freshman Kailee Conradi finished fifth for a dominating performance by Class 1A No. 8 Baxter.
The other medalists included Lynnville-Sully’s Megan Van Zante in seventh, Abby Gruver in ninth and Christine Nikkel in 23rd. Baxter’s Holly Jesen was 14th and Bryn Schultheis placed 22nd. Colfax-Mingo’s Daneille Decker was 16th, Ilia Hostetter placed 18th and Crystal Lincoln was 21st.
On the boys side, Ian Thomson won the race in 17:36.87. He was followed nearly 30 seconds later by sophomore teammate Logan Berg, who was the runner-up in 18:05.02.
“Our top three for the boys are pretty solid,” Vaughn said. “1-2 is good to see. They work really hard in practice. They are both dedicated to the sport. They are very determined runners.”
Other area runners who earned individual medals included Baxter junior Josh Bruntz in 16th, Colfax-Mingo junior Cauy Fitch in 18th and Lynnville-Sully senior Josh Dunsbergen in 21st.
The Baxter girls were 22 points better than Lynnville-Sully. The Bolts had five individual medalists, and junior Piper Larson finished 44th in 29:12.88. Ratliff did not finish due to what Vaughn called “wobbly legs.”
“It was the combination of probably not enough water and she went out too fast,” Vaughn said of Ratliff. “I feel bad for her, and she feels bad, too, but I told her to shake it off because we have more important races to run later in the season.”
Johnson’s fourth-place finish was clocked at 22:52.55, while Conradi placed fifth in 23:13.24. Jessen’s 14th place finish was clocked at 24:15.95, and Schultheis placed 22nd in 25:28.37.
Shaver’s time of 22:03.10 led Lynnville-Sully, which had 68 points in second. Van Zante finished seventh in 22:32.71, Gruver was ninth in 23:42.62 and Nikkel was 23rd in 25:33.65.
Haley Breeden was one spot off a medal in 26th. She finished in 26:12.92. Emily Van Gorp was 29th in 26:27.26 and Ashton Thompson was 34th in 26:44.21.
“On the girls’ side, we know Baxter has a solid team after racing them at Pella,” L-S coach Darin Arkema said. “It was exciting to have our top three girls all earn top 10 honors.”
McConeghey was a few seconds off her personal-best time when she crossed the finish line in second with a time of 21:46.54.
“She’s in the zone right now,” Colfax-Mingo co-head coach Jacob Crouse said of McConeghey. “She missed PR for her best career time. She continues to get faster and I think we’ll get into the 20s here soon. She is the leader for us and allows us to be competitive as a team. She gives us a chance.”
Decker’s 16th-place time was clocked at 24:31.19, while Hostetter was 18th in 24:40.44. Lincoln’s 21st-place performance was timed at 25:21.88. The final counting runner for the Tigerhawks was junior Delaney Underwood, and she finished 27th in 26:18.04.
The final two non-counting runners for Colfax-Mingo was Daytin Jones in 31st with a time of 26:39.18 and Payton Rhone in 37th in 27:06.56.
“It’s definitely going in the right direction. Some of our middle runners continue to improve,” Crouse said. “We are looking ahead at conference. That’s when we have to be at our best. We think we have a realistc shot there and we are getting closer. We took a big step forward today.”
Clarke finished third in the girls standings with 81 points. Colfax-Mingo was three points back in fourth and Collins-Maxwell (99), Pleasantville (120) and Colo-NESCO (163) rounded out the seven-team field.
“We were closer today than maybe (Coach Tomas) and I anticipated, so that’s a very encouraging sign for the rest of the season,” Crouse said.
Baxter finished 1-2 in the boys’ race, but Woodward Academy (26) won the title after securing five of the next six positions. Saydel (60) was 23 points in front of Baxter (83) after all five scoring runners finished 10-14.
For Baxter, after Ian Thomson and Berg came Bruntz in 16th with a time of 19:20.72. Will Hitchler was 46th in 22:52.42 and Austin Good claimed the final counting position in 48th with a time of 23:03.64.
Brendyn Padget was next in 54th with a time of 23:57.70 and Cade McGowdy was 57th in 24:13.95.
Collins-Maxwell was fourth in the boys’ division with 105 points, while Colfax-Mingo (141), Clarke (173), Pleasantville (177) and Colo-NESCO (192) rounded out the eight-team field. Lynnville-Sully only had four runners.
Fitch was 18th with a time of 19:59.48 to lead the Tigerhawks. His younger brother, Cyden Fitch, was 29th in 21:20.26. Noah Strohmeyer finished 39th in 22:16.76, Michael Loney was 41st in 22:18.13 and Jacob Frier was 59th in 24:27.89.
“Cauy got out a little slower than we wanted him to, but he’s battling some calf issues,” Crouse said. “He still medaled though. We have a nice solid pack in the middle of our lineup. We’re hoping we can cut time and get closer to the front. We are getting stronger every meet, and I think we’ll continue to move in the right direction.”
AJ Gibson finished 60th in 24:28.53 and Avery Lees was 63rd with a time of 24:56.83.
Dunsbergen’s 21st-place finish and time of 20:19.40 led Lynnville-Sully. Mason Jensen placed 32nd in 21:48.41, Joseph Anderson was 33rd in 21:48.79 and Luke Kramer was 75th in 26:18.05.
“We got to add one more runner tonight as Luke ran his first race,” Arkema said. “A couple of the guys were surprised they ran the times they did based on the course tonight, so hopefully that is a good sign they are improving.”
Colfax-Mingo hosted a cross country meet for the first time ever. The Tigerhawks will be the host school for the South Iowa Cedar League meet later this year, too.
“Since we are hosting conference later this year we wanted to have a trial run, and I think it went beautifully,” Crouse said. “We have an amazing area and facility up here to run at and they are letting us use the facility for free, which is amazing. That shows the value of our community.
“We are always away when we run meets. I think we got a home course boost today though because our times were good across the board.”
The biggest reason Arkema wanted to get into this meet was because of the SICL meet later this year.
“This gave us a look at what it’s like and hopefully better prepared for those races,” Arkema said. “And of the four meets we’ve run this season, this course was the most challenging, along with warmer temperatures.”