Girls first, boys third; both Panther teams reach State

Both of Monticello’s cross country teams “punched their tickets” to State at the state qualifying meet Oct. 21 in Anamosa. Team members are, first row from left: assistant coach Vallerie Lynn, Leah Koehler, Marisa Kehoe, Karle Kramer, Triniti Etzel, Ava Capron, Emma Althoff, Lydia Recker, and alternates Faith Hansen and Savannah Freese. Second row: Dylan Ponder, Chesney Capron, Carter Kurt, alternate Cord Nietert, Grant Hospodarsky, alternate Hayden Tomkins, Jacob Miller, Alex Oswald, Walker Spence, volunteer coach Bruce Novak and head coach Dan Sauser. (Photos by Pete Temple)

Emma Althoff leads the Panther girls in the state qualifying meet Oct. 21 in Anamosa. (Photos by Pete Temple)

Carter Kurt uses a downhill slope to his advantage for Monticello at the state qualifying meet Oct. 21.
Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     It took special kinds of achievements for both the Monticello High School girls and boys cross country teams to qualify for the state meet.

     In the case of the girls, it was unprecedented depth, leading to a 35-point victory and a championship at the Class 2A State Qualifying Meet Oct. 21 at Anamosa Middle School.

     For the boys, it was a season’s best performance by their top runner, as well as personal records by three others, helping the Panthers nab the third and final team qualifying spot, just four points ahead of fourth place North Fayette Valley.

     Both Panther teams will run at the State Class 2A Cross Country Meet Saturday, Oct. 30 at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge. The girls will race at 10:30 a.m. that day, and the boys will follow at 11:15 a.m.

     It was the first time both teams qualified since 2019. Neither team made it last year, when the Panthers were competing in Class 3A.

     “We have celebrated, and we’ve put that behind us,” Monticello coach Dan Sauser said. “Now we’re doubling down on getting mentally and physically ready to run on Saturday.”

     The girls ran a big one on Thursday. They had two of the top four runners, four total medalists (top 15), and all seven of their runners finished 22nd or higher.

     Most notably, they had a first through seventh time spread of just 68 seconds.

     “That’s as good of a one through seven as we’ve had in years,” coach Sauser said.

     Emma Althoff finished second in 20:14 (Union’s Ellie Rathe won in 19:01), and Ava Capron took fourth in 20:36.

     Karle Kramer nabbed a 10th place finish in 20:51, and Leah Koehler also picked up a medal by taking 14th in 21:05. Lydia Recker was 19th, Marisa Kehoe 21st and Triniti Etzel 22nd.

     “Emma was solid, and Ava had another big race,” the coach said. “Marisa and Triniti gave us exactly what we needed out of our sixth and seventh runners. They were right behind our fourth and fifth runners the whole race.”

     Monticello totaled 49 points. Tipton was second with 84, and Dyersville Beckman qualified with 87 points and a third place finish.

     “I think we just walked into this meet with confidence,” senior Karle Kramer said after the meet. “We worked hard in practice, we put in the work, we faced some really good teams and we performed against them.”

     At State, the Panthers will be among four teams likely to compete for a top-three finish and a trophy. Mid-Prairie and Denver will go in as the likely favorites, and Tipton is a threat, but Sauser said his team shouldn’t be ruled out.

     “A team that is running with confidence is a real dangerous team,” he said.

     For the boys, Carter Kurt led the Panthers, earning a top-15 medal by finishing 11th in 17:33.

     “Carter had his best race of the year,” the coach said. “We needed somebody in the top 15.”

     Monticello had a pack with the rest of its runners, with second runner Jacob Miller and seventh runner Grant Hospodarsky being separated by just 18 places and 45 seconds. Miller ran 20th in 18:14, followed by Chesney Capron in 26th, Dylan Ponder 32nd, Walker Spence 33rd, Alex Oswald 35th and Hospodarsky 38th.

     “Everyone had to do their part, and that’s exactly what they did,” Sauser said. “There was not one person who did not have a good race.”

     Three of them had a best-ever performance: Ponder, Spence and Oswald. Ponder beat his previous PR by 27 seconds.

     “I’m really proud of what our team accomplished today,” senior Hospodarsky said after the race. “I thought we had some runners farther back that really stepped up to beat that North Fayette Valley team. 

     The effort enabled the Panthers to work past the previous week’s River Valley Conference Meet, where they finished sixth.

     “We did not have a good conference meet,” Sauser said of the boys. “But they were able to refocus and put it all together.”

     Hospodarsky expressed confidence about his team’s chances in Fort Dodge.

     “I think that we’re going to be able to go there and surprise some people,” he said.


Oct. 21

Class 2A State

Qualifying Meet

(at Anamosa

Middle School)


(State qualifiers in bold)

     1, Tipton 33; 2, Danville-New London 44; 3, Monticello 122; 4, North Fayette Valley 126;5, Anamosa 136; 6, Northeast 152; 7, Starmont/West Central 163; 8, Mediapolis 210; 9, Camanche 273; 10, Dyersville Beckman 282; 11, Louisa-Muscatine 326; 12, Union 328; 13, West Liberty 359; 14, Wilton 380.


     11, Carter Kurt, 17:33; 20, Jacob Miller, 18:14; 26, Chesney Capron, 18:34; 32, Dylan Ponder, 18:41; 33, Walker Spence, 18:47; 35, Alex Oswald, 18:52; 38, Grant Hospodarsky 18:59.


(State qualifiers in bold)

     1, Monticello 49; 2, Tipton 84; 3, Dyersville Beckman 87; 4, Union 97; 5, Northeast 155; 6, Starmont/West Central 171; 7, Danville-New London 178; 8, North Fayette Valley 181; 9, Wilton 254; 10, Anamosa 258; 11, Springville 262; 12, Mediapolis 291.


     2, Emma Althoff, 20:14; 4, Ava Capron, 20:36; 10, Karle Kramer, 20:51; 14, Leah Koehler, 21:05; 19, Lydia Recker, 21:13; 21, Marisa Kehoe, 21:22; 22, Triniti Etzel, 21:22.




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