By Pete Temple, Express Sports Editor
Members of the state Class 2A champion Monticello boys cross country team were forbidden by Iowa High School Athletic Association rules from competing in interstate events as a Monticello High School team.
So, they formed their own team, and the Eastern Iowa Fighting Turtles were born.
The team, which included six members of the state champion Panthers, got their chance to compete against the best runners in the Midwest at the Nike Cross Heartland Regional Sunday, Nov. 11 in Sioux Falls, S.D.
There, running against a star-studded field from seven Midwest states, the Turtles finished 13th out of 32 teams, totaling 429 points.
Michael Melchert was Monticello’s top runner, finishing 74th out of 331 runners in the race. Melchert’s time was 16 minutes, 43.53 seconds.
J.J. Frawley was 85th in 16:49.68. Dallas Lumpa finished 125th in 17:02.46. Ben Ahlrichs was 203rd in 17:37.19, Tiler Streets 207th in 17:38.16, and Nick Meyers 224th in 17:47.51.
Joining the Monticello runners, and wearing the Turtles uniform, was Eli Kaczinski of Goose Lake. He ran individually, and finished 144th in 17:15.95.
The Demon XC Club of North Dakota won the team championship with a score of 102. Dowling Catholic XC Club of Des Moines was second with 113, and Edina XC Club of Minnesota was third with 131.
The Perham XC Club of Minnesota, one of the top-ranked small-school teams in the state that had hoped to compete in a national championship-style meet against Monticello, finished fifth with 141 points.
The runners also took part in a pre-event pasta dinner Saturday, Nov. 10, in which Elliot Heath of Nike Elite was guest speaker.
Several area businesses and individuals made donations so that the runners could make the trip and compete in the event.