PHOTO: Ellen Schlarmann of Monticello receives her medal after winning the girls race at the State Qualifying Meet Oct. 24 in West Union. (Photo by Pete Temple)
By Pete Temple, Express Sports Editor
They’re back. Both of them.
Monticello’s cross country teams had some of their best performances of the season to earn a return trip to Fort Dodge for the State Cross Country Meet.
The efforts came in the Class 2A State Qualifying Meet held Thursday, Oct. 24 in West Union, hosted by North Fayette Valley.
Despite running against teams more familiar with the North Fayette course, Monticello breezed to victory in the boys race, and finished a fairly comfortable second in the girls race. The top three teams and top 10 individuals qualified for State.
The Panther girls qualified for the second straight year. After taking third place last year, Monticello was second, just four points behind champion Cascade, this time around. The Panthers were 25 points ahead of third place finisher North Fayette Valley, and 30 ahead of Osage, the highest finishing team that didn’t qualify.
Leading the way was Ellen Schlarmann, who ran a personal record of 15 minutes, 29 seconds to win the individual title, beating the top two Cascade girls for the first time.
Also making the top 10 for the Panthers were Jazmine Reynolds, who ran a season best 16:11 to finish fifth; and Natasha Eby, who was seventh in a season best 16:12.
“Our three girls up front ran exceptionally well,” Monticello coach Dan Sauser said. “Ellen is really hitting her full stride when we need her to. Those three did a lot of damage up front.”
Mandi Miles in 17th place and Abby Schmerbach in 27th rounded out the Panther scoring.
“The girls put it all on the line and competed,” Sauser said. “They worked really hard this year to try to get back.”
Monticello is in a mix of at least six schools that figure to contend for the girls title.
“I think we are one of the six, but we have to have our absolute best race of the year.”
Monticello performed as expected in the boys race, getting five runners out of overall top 11, and all seven runners in the top 20. The Panthers totaled just 29 points, 47 ahead of runner-up Osage.
This marks the 17th straight year the Panther boys have qualified for State. As far as state qualifying team titles (formerly called district titles), Monticello had won three in a row, seven of the last eight and nine of the last 11.
“The boys are just a confident group of kids right now,” Sauser said. Michael Melchert and Ben Ahlrichs ran one-two in the race, followed by the team’s three sophomores: Jordan Loes finished sixth, Matt Manternach ninth and Derek Manternach 11th. Anthony Kinley (15th) and Zach Holmes (19th) also placed well. Derek Manternach recorded a personal record.
Loes and Matt Manternach are the top-two rated sophomores in the state for Class 2A.
“Jordan is running very confidently,” Sauser said. “And I thought Derek had a very strong race for us as well.” The two-time defending state champion are likely favorites again this year, with Gilbert and North Polk most likely to provide the strongest competition.
“Our goal is to get at least three all-state runners (top-10),” Sauser said. “If we continue to do what we’ve been doing, we’ll be OK.”
Senior Nick Meyers will miss this year’s state meet due to a stress fracture in his leg.
As usual, the state meet will be held at the Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge. The girls 2A race is scheduled for 1 p.m., followed by the boys 2A race at 1:30 p.m.
(at West Union)
Class 2A State
VARSITY BOYS TEAM SCORES
(top three advance to State)
1, Monticello 29; 2, Osage 76; 3, Hudson 108; 4, Cascade 124; 5, Waterloo Columbus 137; 6, North Fayette Valley 141; 7, Waukon 208; 8, New Hampton 231; 9, Union 256; 10, Springville/Central City 261; 11, Aplington-Parkersburg 265; 12, MFL MarMac 296; 13, Sumner-Fredericksburg 359.
1, Michael Melchert, 15:45; 2, Ben Ahlrichs, 16:15; 6, Jordan Loes, 16:41; 9, Matt Manternach, 16:59; 11, Derek Manternach, 17:10; 15, Anthony Kinley, 17:41; 19, Zach Holmes, 18:03.
VARSITY GIRLS TEAM SCORES
(top three advance to State)
1, Cascade 53; 2, Monticello 57; 3, North Fayette Valley 82; 4, Osage 87; 5, Hudson 126; 6, Anamosa 218; 7, Sumner-Fredericksburg 223; 8, Union 225; 9, Waukon 229; 10, Springville/Central City 232; 11, Aplington-Parkersburg 269; 12, Dyersville Beckman 289; 13, New Hampton 414; 14, Waterloo Columbus 424.
1, Ellen Schlarmann, 15:29; 5, Jazmine Reynolds, 16:11; 7, Natasha Eby, 16:12; 17, Mandi Miles, 17:03; 27, Abby Schmerbach, 17:30; 38, Jacqueline Petersen, 18:01; 39, McKenna Kremer, 18:04.