PHOTO: Members of the Panther girls cross country team answer the gun in the River Valley Conference Meet Oct. 17 in Clinton. From left are Jazmine Reynolds, Ellen Schlarmann, Natasha Eby, McKenna Kremer, Jacqueline Petersen and Mandi Miles. (Photo by Pete Temple)
By Pete Temple, Express Sports Editor
For the Monticello boys, the first-ever River Valley Conference Cross Country meet was about trying to get as many runners as possible in the 15-to-16-minute range.
For the girls, it was about preparing for Thursday’s state qualifying meet and seeing how well they would fare in a field that included five ranked teams.
Both came out feeling good about things, with the boys claiming the title, and the girls finishing third.
Overall, among the two varsity and two JV races, Monticello collected five personal records and eight season bests in the meet, held Thursday, Oct. 17 at Emma Young Park in Clinton.
“Those were achieved on a course that was scenic, but not real fast,” Monticello coach Dan Sauser said.
You run out of adjectives to describe the Panther boys’ dominance from week to week, so we’ll just stick with the numbers. Monticello totaled just 28 points, beating runner-up Mid-Prairie by a comfortable 64 points. The Panthers had four of the top seven finishers and six of the top 15.
“We were fairly confident we were going to win the title, but we did set goals of where we wanted to finish, and the boys pretty much met or exceeded all of them,” Sauser said.
Michael Melchert recorded his third straight sub-16:00 time, and his fifth this year, to win the individual boys title. Ben Ahlrichs was third, Jordan Loes sixth and Matt Manternach seventh.
“Ben had his best race of the year,” Sauser said. “He went out with the elite runners, and I think he realized, he is one of the elite runners.
“Jordan Loes and Matt Manternach ran an extremely strong race. They were in the mid-16 range, which is pretty impressive at that age.”
As was the case in the Tri-Rivers Conference, the top 15 runners in each race make all-conference. The top five are first team, next five second team, and runners 11-15 receive honorable mention. The Panthers came out with six all-conference runners.
The Panther girls had a strong race as well.
“We wanted a good confidence-builder going into the state qualifying meet this week,” Sauser said. “I think the girls were pleased with how they got out and didn’t let the race get away from them.”
Ellen Schlarmann led the team, finishing fourth overall and earning first team all-conference honors. Three others earned honorable mention: Natasha Eby (11th), Mandi Miles (14th) and Jazmine Reynolds (15th).
Jacqueline Petersen set a personal record, Schlarmann matched hers, and Eby ran a season best time.
“We’ve been pretty strong one through four, and our five through seven runners have stepped up nicely in the last couple of meets.
“That’s the kind of effort it’s going to take (at the state qualifying meet), Sauser said. “If we get another solid effort, we’ll have a good chance to qualify (for State).”
No team scores, or individual placings, were kept in the junior varsity races. For the Panther girls, Austyn Helgens was the top runner, earning her varsity letter with a time of 18:30.
“She has come a long way,” Sauser said.
Darby Kramer and Jessalyn Kromminga ran season bests.
For the JV boys, Ben Burds came back from an injury to run the final JV race of the season, and led the team with a season best time. Jacob Bergman also had his best time of the season, and Noah Steiner set a personal record.
State qualifying meet
Starting times have been announced for the Class 2A State Qualifying Meet to be held Thursday, Oct. 24 at North Fayette High School in West Union.
The girls race will begin at 4 p.m., followed by the boys race at 4:30 p.m.
The top three teams and top 10 individuals in each race will advance to the state meet Nov. 2 in Fort Dodge.
River Valley Conf. Meet
VARSITY BOYS TEAM SCORES
1, Monticello 28; 2, Mid-Prairie 92; 3, Northeast 101; 4, Tipton 118; 5, Iowa City Regina 154; 6, Bellevue 157; 7, Cascade 173; 8, Wilton 212; 9, North Cedar 222; 10, Durant 289; 11, Camanche 290; 12, West Liberty 319.
1, Michael Melchert, 15:52.8; 3, Ben Ahlrichs, 16:20.9; 6, Jordan Loes, 16:39.7; 7, Matt Manternach, 16:48.7; 11, Derek Manternach, 17:26.9; 14, Anthony Kinley, 17:42.4; 18, Zach Holmes, 18:03.6.
VARSITY GIRLS TEAM SCORES
1, Cascade 57; 2, Iowa City Regina 65; 3, Monticello 72; 4, Northeast 97; 5, Durant 141; 6, Wilton 160; 7, Mid-Prairie 161.
4, Ellen Schlarmann, 15:31; 11, Natasha Eby, 16:36; 14, Mandi Miles, 16:44; 15, Jazmine Reynolds, 16:46; 28, Jacqueline Petersen, 17:36; 34, McKenna Kremer, 17:59; 39, Olivia Sunlin, 18:15.
JV BOYS TEAM SCORES
No team scores kept.
Ben Burds, 18:57; Jacob Bergman, 18:59; Treyton Hanssen, 19:22; Tyler Boheman, 19:41; Justin Dirks, 19:53; Noah Steiner, 20:24; Garrett Nietert, 20:41.
JV GIRLS TEAM SCORES
No team scores kept.
Austyn Helgens, 18:30; Jaycie Nagel, 19:05; Darby Kramer, 19:26; Taylor Reth, 19:30; Andrea Manternach, 19:57; Katy Blake, 21:35; Jessalyn Kromminga, 21:57.