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First trophies for Iowa state cross country awarded Friday

Boys and girls champions were crowned in 1A and 2A
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By Dana Becker | Photos by Matthew Putney 

The opening day of the state cross country championships featured the crowning of four team champions and four individual titleholders. 

In Class 1A, Earlham won the girls team title, while Calamus-Wheatland’s Noelle Steines was the race winner. On the boys side, Iowa City Regina was crowned team champions and Woodbine’s Landon Bendgen won gold. The event occurred from Fort Dodge inside Kennedy Park at Lakeside Golf Course.

The 2A races featured Mid-Prairie’s Danielle Hostetler and Des Moines Christian’s Aaron Fynaardt winning individual championships, with Van Meter and Christian walking away with team titles.

On Saturday, 3A and 4A will take to the course. The state cross country championships have been held in Fort Dodge every year since 1993 and have been contested as a co-ed meet each season since 1979.

1A Girls: Steines repeats, Earlham secures team crown

Noelle Steines made sure she was able to take control of the 1A race on Friday morning, as the Calamus-Wheatland distance standout claimed her second state title. Steines took over the lead between the opening mile and the second, finishing almost three seconds ahead of Madison Brouwer of Sibley-Ocheyedan for the title.

Steines had a time of 18:39.5, while Brouwer came home in 18:42.2. Alta-Aurelia’s Nora Peterson was third, Maddy Childs from Grandview Christian placed fourth and Earlham’s Mackenzie Harger was fifth.

With four runners in the Top-33, Earlham was crowned team champions, 15 points ahead of South Winneshiek. Sibley-Ocheyedan was third, Logan-Magnolia fourth and Hudson fifth. It marked the second consecutive runner-up finish for South Winneshiek, while Earlham climbed from 11th to the top spot.

Steines, a sophomore, repeated as the 1A race winner, while Peterson, also a sophomore, earned her second bronze medal. A partially torn patellar tendon shortened the season for Steines, but she went unbeaten in races she competed in this fall.

“If you would have asked three months ago if I would have done this, I would have laughed,” Steines said. “I didn’t think I was going to make it in time. It was really hard having everybody ask me if I was going to make it back because I didn’t know.

“That sadness and confusion really fueled me.”

Along with Harger’s fifth place finish, Olivia Spurling was 22nd, Amanda Smith 32nd and Hannah Frank 33rd for Earlham. South Winneshiek had four in the first 29 led by Billie Wagner, who placed 13th overall.

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1A Boys: Bendgen makes big jump, wins gold

From 53rd as a freshman, to 42nd a year ago, to No. 1 this season, Landon Bendgen of Woodbine finished his cross country season with a bang, capturing the Class 1A state title. Bendgen, in the Top-3 from the beginning, took the lead and never looked back, out-distancing himself from runner-up Caden Keller of IKM-Manning.

Iowa City Regina scored the team title over defending champion ACGC, with Woodbine in third behind Bendgen. Bellevue was fourth and IKM-Manning fifth.

Bendgen, a junior, finished in a time of 15:58.2, almost 15 full seconds ahead of Keller. Bellevue’s Payton Griebel was third with Patrick Heffernan of Boyer Valley fourth and Ethan Loutzenheiser from Madrid fifth.

“It feels amazing,” Bengden said. “I’ve had good training. I got hurt last track season, but mid-June I started putting more work in. I knew I was in great shape (coming into the season).”

Griebel, a junior who will be battling Bendgen next year, earned another medal after placing fifth last season. Loutzenheiser, seventh last year, is also part of that 11th-grade class, as is Heffernan, who was 10th last fall.

For Regina, junior Aidan O’Neil placed sixth and Dan Maley was 29th overall. Joe Maley finished 32nd, Henry Bottorff was 53rd and Riordan Smith 66th.

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2A Girls: One streak extended, the other comes to a halt

Danielle Hostetler continued to incredible run of her family, winning a third consecutive Class 2A girls title Friday. The Hostetler sisters have claimed every single cross country race at state since the 2016 campaign.

A junior, Hostetler finished in 18:41.7, leading throughout and besting runner-up Katelyn Johnston of Osage by 20 seconds. Van Meter’s Clare Kelly was third followed by Jesup’s Mackenzie Wilson and Hillary Trainor of Sumner-Fredericksburg.

While that that streak remained, the team title run by Mid-Prairie came to a halt at five, as Van Meter clipped Williamsburg by two points. Monticello was third, Dyersville Beckman fourth and Mid-Prairie fifth.

Along with Clare Kelly, Emma McCoy was 18th, Mary Kelly was 19th and Brooklyn Fryar finished 39th for Van Meter.

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