RECAP: Iowa XC Championships - 4A


     At the Iowa High School Cross Country Championships on Saturday October 29th, the Johnston lady Dragons stole the show with a record-breaking low score of just 26 points, a whole 65 points ahead of the next finisher, Dubuque Hempstead. The team had a 52-second 1-5 split and average time of 18:41. Throughout the 2016 season, the lady Dragons have consistently been ranked first on the Heartland Soles rankings and in the top 3 on the IATC rankings. Coming in with a perfect score from the State Qualifying race in Council Bluffs, the team was led by junior Jessica McKee, who snagged a 2nd place finish individually. McKee, who placed 10th at last year's State meet, had been the top Iowan finisher in every race she competed in this year leading up to State. Through the first 4K, McKee led the race with a chase-pack close behind, comprised of teammates Brooke McKee, Emily Poss, and Paige Horner, along with Bailey Nock and Gabby Skopec of Iowa City West. The Johnston girls' top 5 finishers landed the 2nd (J. McKee), 3rd (B. McKee), 5th (Poss), 7th (Horner), and 14th (Hovey) spots. With a team comprised of many freshman and newcomers, the Dragons lose only one senior from their top seven, Emily Poss. The team was rounded out by freshmen Clara Toot (41st) and Kendall Nead (76th).

                Though the Dragons' win was certainly an incredible accomplishment, the defeat of both Jessica McKee and Gabby Skopec for the individual girls Championship was the exciting and unexpected finish of the race. Bailey Nock of Iowa City West claimed the win clocking in at 18:06.90, finishing just over 3 seconds in front of McKee, who led most of the race. Throughout the 2016 season, Nock's teammate, Gabby Skopec was often predicted as the top challenger to McKee for the Championship after multiple 1st place finishes at meets throughout Iowa. As the girls approached the down-hill finish in Fort Dodge, Nock began a strong kick to pull away from McKee, also solidifying a 24-second gap between her and 3rd place (B. McKee) and a 32-second gap from Skopec (4th).  Iowa City West finished 5th overall with a team score of 166 points.

                For the team finishers, Dubuque Hempstead impressed with just a 17-second split between 1-5, placing 18th (K. Brown), 10th (H. Brown), 23rd (S. Hostager), 28th (H. Hostager), and 36th (Leicht), with a team average of 19:20. The second runner-up was Iowa City High School with 121 points and a team average of 19:27. You can view complete results of the girls' race here - 4A Girls.

                On the men's side, Patrick Bose from Johnston High School claimed the individual win in 15:37.20, just 2 seconds off of his season-best 5K this year. This was Bose's first State win, after finishing 3rd in 2014 and 25th in 2015. Bose sat comfortably in the front pack for much of the race, pulling away with the win in the latter-half. Bose's win helped lead the young Johnston team to a 6th place finish, with 190 points. Cedar Falls senior, Sam Schillinger was the runner-up to Bose in a time of 15:43. Schillinger was often ranked as a contender for the state title throughout the season by Heartland Soles and IATC after winning almost every meet he competed in this year. Schillinger is a 4-time State competitor with great improvements each year, starting at 32nd, then 11th, 3rd, and now 2nd to cap off his career. In third place was Matthew Carmody of Dowling Catholic, leading the team to a 2-point win over Pleasant Valley. Carmody finished just 4.8 seconds behind Schillinger, holding off Camden Cox of Ankeny Centennial, who was just a few steps behind.

                The Dowling Catholic Maroons were the team Champions, with a score of 100 points and a team average of 16:17. Carmody's 3rd place finish was followed up by Matt Frazier in 9th, Jack Fink in 15th, Kevin Conner in 26th, and Sam Hall in 66th for the scorers, with a split of 1:12. Dowling was rounded out by Michael Ode (82nd) and Thomas Bussey (95th). After being the team Champions in 2015, the Maroons graduated the 2015 individual Champion, Ryan Schweizer. With Carmody's 9th place finish last year as a starting point, and many young athletes stepping up for the team this year, they have been podium contenders for most of the season. After the Heartland Classic earlier this year, where the Maroons competed strongly against out-of-state competition, it was clear that they would be competing for the State title. Just 2 points behind Dowling was Pleasant Valley, with individuals placing  10th (Yanek), 17th (Sommer), 25th (Huhn), 31st (Smith), and 35th (Conway). The Spartans had a split of just 36-seconds, with a team average of 16:22. In third place was Prairie High School with 140 points and an impressive team split of just 18-seconds, finishing the top 5 all within 19 places of each other between 21st and 40th.
You can view the complete results of the boys' race here - 4A Boys.