GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY
By Pete Temple, Express Sports Editor
Even Panther head coach Dan Sauser was pleasantly surprised when the scores were posted and the Monticello girls cross country team learned it had taken third place in the State Class 2A Cross Country Meet.
Monticello, which nine days earlier wasn’t even sure it had qualified for state, came into the meet ranked 11th.
“We were eyeing the top 10,” Sauser said. “I don’t know if I could have hoped for a better outcome.”
Led by freshman Ellen Schlarmann, who ended her first state meet with a ninth place finish and a spot on the individual awards podium, the Panthers excelled up and down the lineup.
“They really came through,” Sauser said. “It was their best race of the year. That’s what you need at the state meet; you need everyone to have their best race.”
The Panthers totaled 159 points, which tied them for third place with Cascade. That sent the result to a tie-breaker, the first of which is how each school’s sixth runner performed. Monticello’s Olivia Sunlin finished 62nd overall, and Cascade’s sixth runner was 98th, so Monticello claimed the third place trophy.
Over the weekend, scoring discrepancies came up that left Sauser and the Panthers wondering about their final position (see Home Stretch column on P. B-5). But on Monday, the third place finish was confirmed.
Schlarmann finished in 15:31, beating her personal best by 36 seconds.
“I didn’t expect it at all,” Schlarmann said. “Everyone was telling me the whole way, ‘The top 10 is right there, you need to go.’ And in the end, I just kind of took off, I guess.”
Jazmine Reynolds ran another consistent race to finish 21st overall. Kally Blake, who had never broken the 17-minute mark, finished in 16:26 to come in 34th.
“The most amazing feeling I’ve ever had in my life. I’m seriously so happy,” Blake said.
Mandi Miles was 36th.
“We pushed each other a lot today,” Miles said.
Cassi Britt nosed out a Mediapolis runner for 70th place, enabling Monticello to stay at 159 points. Sunlin was 62nd, and McKenna Kremer was 95th.
The Panthers said they received help from a strong contingent of Monticello supporters. “The fans, you could hear them the whole way. That helped so much,” Schlarmann said.
It was a triumphant finish for a team that had endured injuries and other issues throughout the season.
“It was a roller coaster of emotions and injuries these kids had gone through,” Sauser said. “For them to put it all together was great. I’m very happy for these girls.”
State Class 2A
Cross Country Meet
(at Fort Dodge)
1, Unity Christian 97; 2, Northeast 124; 3, Monticello 159*; 4, Cascade 159; 5, Gilbert 174; 6, North Fayette 175; 7, Davis County 178; 8, Western Christian 189; 9, North Polk 205; 10, Mediapolis 216; 11, Roland-Story 218; 12, Spirit Lake 227; 13, CMB, Baxter 233; 14, South Hamilton 289; 15, Panorama 347.
* - Monticello took third place due to sixth-runner tie-breaker.
9, Ellen Schlarmann, 15:31; 21, Jazmine Reynolds, 16:05; 34, Kally Blake, 16:26; 36, Mandi Miles, 16:26; 59, Cassi Britt, 17:00; 62, Olivia Sunlin, 17:06; 95, McKenna Kremer, 18:28.
PHOTO: The Monticello Panther girls celebrate on the podium with the state Class 2A third place trophy Oct. 27. From left are Ellen Schlarmann, Mandi Miles, Kally Blake, McKenna Kremer, Jazmine Reynolds, Cassi Britt, Olivia Sunlin, Natasha Eby and head coach Dan Sauser. (Photo by Pete Temple)