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Top stars, best performances in Iowa boys cross country last week

This week's top performances in Iowa boys prep cross country
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By Barry Poe | Photos by Matthew Putney 

Zach Sporaa’s ninth victory of the season was important, but there are two more meaningful races yet to arrive.

Currently ranked third in Class 3A by the Iowa Association of Track Coaches, the North Polk senior was clocked in 15:43.7 while winning a second straight Raccoon River Conference cross country championship at Adel.

Sporaa, a ninth-place finisher in last year’s 3A state meet in Fort Dodge, will now have his goals set to win Wednesday’s 3A state qualifying meet in Humboldt. salutes the young men who won conference titles, statewide, last week and takes a look at the contenders in this week’s state-qualifying meets in all four classes. Here’s a look at some of those who accomplished league championships. Not all of the state’s conferences are listed in this report. 


Zach Sporaa, Sr., North Polk

For the second straight year, Sporaa was clocked under 16 minutes while winning the Raccoon River Conference championship and No. 2 North Polk was first with 32 points. Sporaa, who defeated four 3A state-ranked opponents, is undefeated going into Wednesday’s 3A state qualifying meet at Humboldt.

Ford Washburn, Sr., Iowa City City High

The No. 2 (Class 4A) Washburn may be the state’s fastest harrier. His fifth victory of the year, a blazing 14:59, led the No. 4 Little Hawks to the Mississippi Valley Conference (Valley Division) title. He will run at the Pleasant Valley 4A qualifier, seeking his fourth meet time under 15 minutes this season.

Jackson Heidesch, Sr., West Des Moines Dowling

The defending Class 4A state champion won his fourth meet of the season, clocked in 15:31.2 while leading the No. 1-ranked Maroons to the CIML (Central Iowa Metropolitan League) championship at Johnston. The No. 1 Heidesch was among three from his squad to finish among the Top 5.

Aaron Fynaardt, Sr., Des Moines Christian

Class 2A’s top-ranked runner ran at a 5:07 mile pace while winning the West Central Athletic Conference title, timed in 15:57.30 at Panorama. Fynaardt, who was last year’s WCAC runner-up, will search for his eighth win of the season in Thursday’s 2A state qualifier at Shenandoah.

Jedidiah Osgood, Sr., Marion

Third-ranked (Class 3A) Marion repeated as the WaMaC Conference champion as the No. 1-ranked Osgood posted his sixth triumph of the season, running a 5:07.5 mile pace while finishing with a 15:52.5 time. Osgood will compete in Wednesday’s Class 3A qualifier in Manchester.

Ethan Eichhorn, Jr., Lewis Central

Currently ranked second in Class 3A, Eichhorn successfully defended his Hawkeye 10 Conference title, timed in 15:40.65 during a cool and windy afternoon in Harlan. Eichhorn, who will compete in Wednesday’s 3A qualifier at Glenwood, has been clocked under 16 minutes in all three of his wins.

Kaden Lynch, Jr., Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck

Each of the top four finishers at the North Iowa Cedar League meet in La Porte City were in the IATC’s state individual rankings, topped by Lynch, who’s fourth in Class 2A. Clocked in 16:27.72, Lynch will compete in a 2A state-qualifying meet Thursday at Pella Christian.

Payton Griebel, Jr., Bellevue

Griebel, Class 1A’s fourth-ranked harrier, ran a 16:49.8, escaping with a 4.5 seconds margin of victory over No. 4 (2A) Clay Bohlman of Tipton en route to defending the River Valley Conference title at Iowa City. It was the second win of the season for Griebel, who will run at Thursday’s 1A qualifier in Iowa City.

Charlie Sieck, Sr., Starmont West Central

Sieck claimed his sixth victory of the year, timed in 16:27 with a winning margin of 34 seconds over No. 12 (1A) Marcus Blount of Clinton Prince of Peace en route to his first-ever Tri-Rivers Conference title. Fifth-ranked in 1A, Sieck will compete in Wednesday’s state qualifier at Oelwein.

Chase Lauman, Sr., Pella

Lauman won his fourth meet of the season, the star-studded Little Hawkeye Conference meet at Dallas Center where five of the seven runners he defeated were state-ranked in either Classes 3A or 4A. Clocked in 16:00.5, the No. 5 (3A) Lauman will compete in a state qualifier Wednesday at Pella.

Natnael Kifle, Jr., Sioux City North

Believe it or not, Kifle won for only the first time this season, timed in 15:59.90 as the 12th-ranked (Class 4A) Stars won their fifth consecutive Missouri River Activities Conference championship. The No. 5 Kifle will shoot for a third straight state appearance in Wednesday’s 4A qualifier in Council Bluffs.

Micah Rees, Jr., Washington

Seventeenth-ranked (Class 3A) Washington defended its Southeast Conference title by a narrow 43-46 margin over Fort Madison, led by the No. 6 Rees, who was clocked in a first-place 16:40.06. Rees will run on the home course Wednesday during the 3A state qualifying meet.

Caden Keller, Sr., IKM Manning

Seventh-ranked in Class 1A, Keller led from start to finish while running away with a decisive Western Iowa Conference title, his 17:32.26 clocking a minute and 15 seconds better than the runner-up. The winner of three races, Keller will compete in Thursday’s 1A state qualifier at Guthrie Center.

Jacob Murney Sr., Pleasant Valley

The No. 9 (Class 4A) Murney has only two victories this fall, the most recent coming while defending his Mississippi Athletic Conference title at Davenport. Clocked in 15:53 for the 10th-ranked Spartans, Murney’s squad will host a Class 4A state qualifier on Wednesday.

Aaron Lursen, Sr., Fort Dodge St. Edmond

The No. 9 (Class 1A) Lursen defended his North Central Conference title, defeating Algona’s No. 27 (3A) Ryan Stundahl, the NCC runner-up the previous two years. Lursen’s winning time at Humboldt (17:22.84) was 23 seconds faster than Stundahl. Lursen will run a 1A qualifier at Central Springs.

Jacob Schellhorn, So., MFL MarMac

Schellhorn has a chance to become a three-time Upper Iowa Conference champion if he runs faster than the 16:51.9 which won the meet at Luana. Currently ranked 11th in Class 2A, Schellhorn will aim for his fifth win of the season in Thursday’s 2A state qualifying meet at Cascade.

Doug Berg, Sr., Nodaway Valley

Last year’s Pride of Iowa Conference runner-up, the 11th-ranked (Class 1A) Berg won the league’s meet for the first time, clocked in 17:52.91 at Afton. Berg, who won (17:16.66) later in the week at Mount Ayr, will search for his sixth win of the season during Thursday’s 1A state qualifier at Guthrie Center.

Justin Rygh, Jr., Lake Mills

Rygh ran twice last week, using his win (16:44.91) at Forest City to tune up for the Top of Iowa Conference meet at Mason City, where again, he took first (16:36). The 14th-ranked Rygh has won seven meets going into the Class 1A qualifier at Central Springs.

Jaiden Merrick, Fr., Cedar Falls

The only freshman listed in the IATC’s Class 4A rankings, the No. 15 Merrick ran at a 5:04 mile pace while winning the Mississippi Valley Conference (Mississippi Division) title, timed in 15:46. It was the first win of the season for Merrick, who will compete in Wednesday’s 4A state qualifier in Dubuque.

Adric Schmitz, Sr., Valley Lutheran

Currently ranked 19th in Class 1A, Schmitz posted his first victory of the season, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Schmitz was timed in 16:59 as Valley Lutheran repeated as the Iowa Star Conference champ at Riceville. He will run in Thursday’s 1A qualifier at Eldora.

Luis Martinez, Jr., Storm Lake

Unranked in Class 3A, Martinez improved from third place as a sophomore to the champion (16:00.52) during last Monday’s Lakes Conference meet at Estherville. One of two Storm Lake Top 3 runners, Martinez will look for a second straight 3A state berth during Wednesday’s state qualifier in Humboldt.

Isaiah Hulshof, Sr., MOC-Floyd Valley

Another unranked Class 3A runner, Hulshof was timed in 17:08.60, defeating his 25th-ranked teammate, Trevor Mirande, by 10 seconds to help the No. 12 Dutchmen defend the Siouxland Conference title, outscoring Okoboji 38-51. Hulshof will run in Wednesday’s qualifier at Humboldt.

Ethan Wynia, So., Unity Christian

The No. 2 runner for last year’s 13th-place Class 2A state meet squad, the unranked Wynia won the War Eagle Conference title (17:54.40) as the No. 12 Knights had three Top 4 runners while defending their team title, tallying 21 points. The Knights will host a 2A state qualifier Thursday in Orange City.

Caleb Hoins, Sr., Waverly-Shell Rock

Unranked in Class 3A, Hoins won his first-ever Northeast Conference title, his 16:58.63 title defeating the runner-up, No. 25 (2A) Nathan O’Neill of Waukon, by 7.5 seconds. A fifth-place NEC finisher as a junior, Hoins will run in a 3A state qualifier Wednesday at West Delaware.

Isaac Rankin, Fr., Knoxville

Rankin won his first-ever meet during Week 1 at the Knoxville Early Bird Invite, but was without a title until his 18:10.99 clocking which won the South Central Conference title at Eddyville. The unranked Rankin will compete in a Class 3A state qualifying meet Wednesday at Pella.