Iowa Team & Individuals Qualify for NXN
West Des Moines’ Dowling Catholic’s girls cross country team finished second in the NXN (Nike Cross Nationals) Heartland Regional Championships in Sioux Falls, SD on November 14 and therefore qualified for the prestigious Nike Cross National Championships to be held in Portland, OR on December 14. Sioux City East’s Shelby Houlihan and Burlington’s Marshall Moyer also qualified as individuals.
NXN is generally considered the national high school cross country team championship meet, qualifying the top 22 high school girls and boys teams in the U.S. through nine regional championships. The NXN Heartland Regionals brought together the top teams and individuals from Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Only two teams, plus five individuals not on those teams, automatically qualified for the national meet. Additionally, four at-large teams from across the U.S. will be selected by committee.
The Dowling girls, led by Tanelle Berard (Sr, 8th, 5k- 18:24.03) and Karissa Schwiezer (Fr, 9th, 18:28.61), were edged out by Eden Prairie (MN) (57 to 73) for the Heartland team title; but finished well ahead of the rest of the 19 team field. Cedar Rapids Prairie placed 7th and Burlington 9th in the boys race.
SC East’s Houlihan finished 2nd (Sr, 5k - 17:55.26) behind high nationally ranked Allison Woodward, Notre Dame Academy, Green Bay, WI (Sr, 17:35.40) in the girls competition. Rebekah Topham, 8th grader from Griswold, was Iowa’s next finisher missing qualifying for nationals by one place, 7th in 18:23.65. Other Iowa’s top 20 placers were Rebecca Rethwisch, Iowa City High, in 17th (18:39.56) and Nicole Criner, WDM Valley, 20th, 18:45.28.
Burlington’s Moyer was third (5k – 15:29.83) behind only Tony Smoragiewicz (Central, Rapid City, SD; 15:16.76) and Adam Zutz (St Francis, MN; 15:23.20) in the boys race. Burlington teammate Ben Witt was the next Iowa finisher in 8th (15:40.64), followed by Kevin Lewis (Ottumwa, 11th, 15:44.04) and Cole Decker (Dowling, 18th, 15:53.23) among the top 20.