Panther girls cross country team made history in 2014

The Monticello Panthers of 2014, the first MHS girls’ team to win a state championship, included, first row from left: Abby Schmerbach, Jazmine Reynolds and Taylor McDonald. Second row: assistant coach Vallerie Lynn, Rachel Larabee, Jordyn Patterson, Paige Holub, Meredith Melchert, Ellen Schlarmann and head coach Dan Sauser. (Express file photos)

Paige Holub’s individual state title helped lead the Panthers to the 2014 team crown.
Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor, 1997-98

     (Sports Editor’s note: Reprinted from Nov. 5, 2014 issue of the Monticello Express)

     In a history of successful showings for Monticello High School at the State Cross Country Meet, this was the most successful of them all.

     The Panther girls won their first-ever state championship, led by individual race winner Paige Holub, while Monticello’s boys finished second. The meet was held Saturday, Nov. 1 at Lakeside Golf Course in Fort Dodge.

     It was not only the first state title for the Panther girls cross country team, it was also the first girls team championship in any sport for MHS.

     Monticello earned its first-ever state girls title by leaving no doubt about the outcome. The Panthers scored 63 points, beating Cascade – a surprise runner-up finisher – by 29.

     “It was a fun race to watch,” Monticello coach Dan Sauser said. “I could see throughout the race that the girls were going to do it. I could see it in their faces. We got the race we needed from all the girls out there.”

     Paige Holub, one of five freshmen on this remarkable Panther team, won the girls 2A race in 14:58.8, beating runner-up Becca McDermott of Cascade by just over four seconds to lead her team to victory.

     “We’re just so used to the guys winning (the Panther boys had won state titles in 2011, ’12 and ’13), and now it’s our turn,” Holub said after the race. “We had a good feeling about today.”

     Holub seized the lead about a mile and a half into the race, then fought off a last-ditch challenge from McDermott to win by over four seconds.

     “I couldn’t be happier for Paige,” Sauser said. “When an elite runner surges, you’ve got to go with them, because you can’t run down an elite runner. When Becca made her move, Paige went. For a freshman to go out there and run the way she did, and lead our team out there, was quite impressive.”

     Holub knew things were getting tight at the end.

     “She said, ‘I could tell by the crowd,’ She was able to kick it in a little bit and hold her off, but it was quite a finish,” coach Sauser said.

     Jordyn Patterson also made the awards stand by finishing 10th. Taylor McDonald finished 13th overall, Rachel Larabee was 27th and Ellen Schlarmann took 29th place.

     “I can’t say enough about Jordyn Patterson either,” Sauser said. “She’s a strong runner, and really gave us that third one we needed in there, because we knew Taylor was going to come in strong.

     “I told the girls, ‘We need a surprise,’ and I think Jordyn was part of that surprise. Rachel Larabee stepped up for us too. We needed one of four runners to run a strong race with Ellen, and Rachel was that runner.

     “I’m very excited for the girsl. Being that five of them are freshmen, hopefully it will be the beginning of a long stretch for our girls.”

     (Note: The Panther girls went on to win the 2016 state title as well.)


Nov. 1, 2014

State Class 2A

Cross Country Meet

(at Fort Dodge)


     1, Monticello 63; 2, Cascade 92; 3, Osage 130; 4, Unity Christian 151; 5, Western Christian 161; 6, Mid-Prairie 169; 7, Des Moines Christian 183; 8, Mediapolis 216; 9, KP-WC 226; 10, North Polk 241; 11, Dike-New Hartford 267; 12, North Fayette Valley 286; 13, South Hardin 301; 15, West Central Valley 304; 15, Red Oak 333.


(overall placing listed first, placing for team score listed in parentheses)

     1 (1), Paige Holub, 14:58.8; 10 (8), Jordyn Patterson, 15:44.1; 13 (11), Taylor McDonald, 15:56.0; 27 (21), Rachel Larabee, 16:18.5; 29 (22), Ellen Schlarmann, 16:20.6; 66 (54), Meredith Melchert, 17:17.3; 83 (69), Jazmine Reynolds, 17:48.3.



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