Skip to main content

Top stars, best performances in Iowa high school boys cross country

Some of the top performances in Iowa boys prep cross country this week
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

By Barry Poe  

Zach Sporaa hadn’t faced a good share of the competition he ran up against Wednesday afternoon in Humboldt. 

It didn’t make a difference for the third-ranked distance runner from the Iowa Track Coaches Association's Class 3A state individual cross country rankings. Clocked in 16:19.54, Sporaa won the 3A state qualifying meet by a margin of 12 seconds over No. 8 William Wadsley (16:31.12) of Gilbert.

Sporaa, whose team outscored Gilbert 43-61 for the title, won his 10th race of the season, his win total ranked first among high school males across the state. He’ll compete in the Class 3A state meet for the fourth time in his career this Saturday at Kennedy Park in Fort Dodge.

Sporaa, if he continues his winning pace, could emerge as a state champion. Among those who could join him as a state champion are West Des Moines Dowling’s Jackson Heidesch (Class 4A), Des Moines Christian’s Aaron Fynaardt (Class 2A) and Woodbine’s Landon Bendgen (Class 1A).

The top three teams and the top 15 individuals qualified for the state meet in Classes 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A last week. SBLive now takes a look at some of those outstanding efforts. 

Ford Washburn, Sr., Iowa City City High

It may not have been under 15 minutes, but the No. 2-ranked Washburn won a 4A state qualifier (15:25) at Pleasant Valley as No. 4 City High outscored the meet hosts 35-54 for the title. Washburn finished fourth at the 4A state meet last year.

Ethan Loutzenheiser, Jr., Madrid

Loutzenheiser collected his fifth victory of the season, timed in 16:39.37 as he won a Class 1A state qualifier hosted by Central Decatur. Currently ranked second in the state’s smallest class, Loutzenheiser was part of Madrid’s 1A state title team of 2020. He also placed seventh, individually in 1A, a year ago.

Aidan O’Neill, Jr., Iowa City Regina

Second-ranked Iowa City Regina outscored No. 5 Bellevue 30-60 while winning the Class 1A qualifier it hosted, led by the No. 3 O’Neill, who finished second (16:53.7), 4.5 seconds behind Payton Griebel (Bellevue).

Isaiah Hammerand, Sr., Western Dubuque

The Mississippi Valley Conference (Valley Division) runner-up to Iowa City City High’s Ford Washburn (a Class 4A harrier) the previous week, the No. 4 Hammerand was clocked in 15:43.36 while winning the Class 3A state qualifier at Washington. Hammerand returns from last year’s squad which finished eighth.

Miles Wilson, Sr., Cedar Rapids Kennedy

Third at the MVC (Valley Division) meet, Wilson ran a 5-minute mile pace while winning (15:31) a 4A qualifier at Dubuque. The fifth-ranked Wilson, who helped No. 7 Kennedy tie for the team title with No. 7 Cedar Falls, qualified individually for last year’s 4A state meet and won six races as a senior.

Patrick Heffernan, Sr., Boyer Valley

The runner-up (16:31) in a Class 1A qualifier hosted by A-C/GC, Heffernan fell about 1 ½ seconds short of IKM Manning’s Caden Keller (16:29.80). Still, the No. 5 Heffernan has accomplished much as a senior, winning three meets and advancing to the 1A state meet, which he will run for the fourth straight year.

Justin Reinhart, Jr., Adair-Casey/Guthrie Center

Ranked atop the Iowa Track Coaches Association Class 1A individual ratings, Reinhart took third (16:50.90) in the state qualifier his team hosted. Defending 1A state champion A-C/GC won the meet with 35 points. Reinhart also helped A-C/GC take fourth in the 2020 final 1A state team standings.

Flynn Milligan, Sr., West Des Moines Dowling

Ranked sixth in Class 4A, Milligan was timed in a second-place 15:55.70 as the defending Class 4A state champions took first in a 4A qualifier at Council Bluffs. Milligan, who finished 23 seconds behind his No. 1-ranked teammate, Jackson Heidesch, hopes to help the No. 1 Maroons repeat as 4A champions.

Natnael Kifle, Jr., Sioux City North

Kifle followed Milligan in third place during the 4A state qualifier in Council Bluffs, clocked in 16:01.70. The third-ranked Kifle and No. 21 Gabe Nash (4th, 16:05) helped the Stars win the 2020 4A state championship while last year’s squad was outscored 56-62 by Dowling in the battle for first place.

Clay Bohlmann, So., Tipton

Bohlmann, Class 2A’s fifth-ranked distance runner, finished second (16:28) and was one of two Top 5 finishers as No. 4 Tipton outscored Waukon 50-58 to win a 2A qualifier at Monticello. As a freshman, Bohlmann placed ninth while leading Tipton to the 2A state championship.

Jaxson Plumb, Sr., Johnston

The last time Plumb won a race this season came during Week 1 at the Johnston Invite. Ranked eighth in Class 4A and the leader of a team which is ranked third, Plumb was clocked in 15:41.1 while winning a 4A qualifier at Indianola. Plumb, a two-time state qualifier, finished sixth and the Dragons took fourth.

Colin Lillie, Sr., Council Bluffs St. Albert

Fourth-ranked St. Albert outscored No. 3 Woodbine 31-35 while winning a Class 1A qualifier at Corning, where it was led by the No. 7 Lillie, who finished second (16:43.3). Lillie will mark his fourth state appearance.

A.J. Bonneson, Sr., Danville-New London

The seventh-ranked Bonneson claimed his first victory since Week 2 at Pekin when he was clocked in 16:27.67 in a 2A qualifier hosted by Pella Christian. Bonneson, who led the Bears to a first-place 61 points, ran for the 2A state champs as a sophomore and also competed for last year’s 2A runner-up.

Solomon Zaugg, Jr., Mediapolis

Zaugg not only collected his fifth victory of the season, but he also claimed his first-ever state cross country berth with his 16:09 time in a Class 2A qualifier at Monticello while leading 15th-ranked Mediapolis to a third-place finish. Zaugg is ranked sixth.

William Wadsley, Sr., Gilbert

Wadsley finished in second place (16:31.12), 12 seconds behind North Polk’s Zach Sporaa during the Class 3A state qualifier in Humboldt. It’s the first-ever 3A state berth for the No. 8 Wadsley, who this season, scored wins at South Hardin and Eagle Grove.

Conall Sauser, So., Oelwein

Class 2A’s 10th-ranked runner, Sauser finished second (17:02.27) while leading No. 5 Oelwein to a 63-66 escape over No. 6 Denver in a 2A qualifier at Oelwein. As a freshman, Sauser was part of a team which took fourth in the final 2A team standings.

Bryant Keller, Jr., Glenwood

Eleventh-ranked in Class 3A, Keller paced the fourth-ranked Rams to the 3A state-qualifier title on the home course, clocked in a second-place 15:39.73, three seconds behind No. 2 Ethan Eichhorn (Lewis Central). Keller, an 11th-place state finisher as a sophomore, qualified for the third straight year.

Nathan VanderWaal, Jr., Pella

This is the third consecutive Class 3A state meet appearance for the No. 12 VanderWaal, who helped Pella to fourth place in the final 3A team standings in 2020 and 2021. VanderWaal (4th, 16:13.56) was among four Top 5 finishers for the No. 1 Dutch, winners of the 3A qualifier in Pella with 21 points.

A.J. Schermerhorn, Jr., Ankeny Centennial

Six runners turned in times under 16 minutes during the 4A state qualifier at Marshalltown, topped by the 13th-ranked Schermerhorn (15:41.1), who won only his second race of the season. Schermerhorn returns from last year’s Jaguar squad which finished 14th in the final 4A state team standings.


Marcus Blount, Sr., Clinton Prince of Peace

Blount’s second victory of the season was his most important to date, as he qualified for the Class 1A state meet, timed in 17:11.20 during a qualifier at Cascade. The 13th-ranked Blount is a three-time 1A state qualifier whose top effort in Fort Dodge came as sophomore when he was 19th (17:17.4).

Carson Van Sickle, Jr., Ogden

Sixth-ranked Ogden scored 57 points while winning a Class 1A qualifier in Holstein, paced by the No. 18-rated Van Sickle, who was timed in a first-place 17:04.01. It was the second win of the season for Van Sickle, who’s back from last year’s team which finished 11th.

Cooper Cook, Jr., Marion

Cook is back from the squad of 2021, which was outscored 60-62 by Dallas Center-Grimes in the battle for first place at the Class 3A state meet. During state qualifier action at Manchester, the No. 20 Cook finished in second (16:37.77) as No. 5 Marion, led by No. 1 Jedidiah Osgood (15:33.94) finished first.

Ryan Kelly, Sr., Mason City Newman

Kelly, the 23rd-ranked runner in Class 1A, won (16:23.27) a 1A state qualifier at Manley, about 1.5 seconds ahead of No. 14 Justin Rygh (16:24.6) while leading Newman to a third-place finish. Kelly will mark his fourth state appearance and hopes to help the Knights improve last year’s 15th-place finish.

Joe Terrones, Sr., East Marshall

The No. 29 Terrones led East Marshall to a first-place 41 points in a Class 1A state qualifier at Eldora, clocked in a first-place 17:46.99. It was the second victory of the season for Terrones, who last competed at Fort Dodge as part of the 2020 squad which finished 11th in the final 1A standings.

Dylan Jones, Sr., Okoboji

Timed in a fourth-place 17:00, the 24th-ranked Jones helped No. 7 Okoboji outscore No. 12 Unity Christian 25-59 while winning a 2A state qualifier at Orange City. It was the third Top 5 finish of the season for Jones, who was part of last year’s team which finished eighth.