Pekin, E.V. secure State bids

Isaiah Wittrock of Pekin finished in fourth-place, pacing his way to a 17:48 times and qualifying him for the State meet.

On October 19, schools from across the region met up at Wildwood Park in Ottumwa, for the local State qualifying XC meet. For many of those who competed, it was their last competition of the season, possibly even their last as a high school cross country runner. Only the top 15 would advance from each varsity race.

The varsity girls race got things started, with eyes particularly on Colfax-Mingo, North Mahaska and Pekin, among others. Pekin had seen many successful results run by their top athletes, but they'd have to step it up against the best competition, to make it to State.

For most of the race one Pekin girl, Remi Duwa, was up near the front of the field. As the 5K wore on, the girls began to separate themselves more, but Remi didn't lose much ground. She kept up a steady pace to stay in her position and gutted out the last hundred or so meters. Her time of 21:35 put her in 10th place, officially beating the mark to qualify. Cari Duwa, also one of Pekin's top runners, also ran a steady race. She ended up falling just seconds shy of qualifying, finishing in 16th place with a time of 22:25, six seconds after 15th.

Five other Pekin girls also competed, finishing within a minute of each other. Hunter Lock (23:16) finished in 21st place, Hollie Loper (23:17) finished in 23rd place, Kelly Myers (23:27) finished in 26th place, Zoey Wright (23:50) finished in 29th and Kaitlyn Glosser (23:55) rounded out the team in 30th place.

Sigourney and English Valleys also had a handful of girls compete in the State qualifying meet, but not advance.

English Valleys: Brooke Coffman (25:49) in 50th place, Clara Mews (25:55) in 51st place, Megan Glandon (26:57) in 64th place, Liberty Lightfoot (29:32) in 87th place and Isabel Schneider (29:53) in 90th place.

Sigourney: Lainey Graff (25:13) in 46th place, Summer Barthelman (25:57) in 52nd place, Autum Barthelman (27:56) in 73rd place, Megan Stuhr (28:06) in 75th place, Hannah Lucas (28:29) in 78th place and Cami Thompson (28:37) in 79th place.  

On the boy's side, Pekin was hoping to get another top finish out of their young star, Colten Glosser. He came into qualifying with a handful of wins throughout the season, but none of that would compare in getting to State. Colten found his stride early, staying within a comfortable distance of the leaders. Similar to the girl's race, the two boys up front began to stretch out their lead in the second lap. Colten remained at a steady pace and finished in third place with a time of 17:36.

Colten's teammate, Isaiah Wittrock, wasn't far behind. Wittrock also kept a steady pace for most of the way, and cruised in for a fourth-place finish at the 17:48 mark. Brady Millikin, also of Pekin, claimed the last qualifying spot. In order to do so he needed to pass some traffic down the stretch, including a burst of speed in the final 100 meters. Millikin finished with a time of 18:23.

Pekin wasn't the only school to advance to the State meet, with English Valleys also narrowly making the cut. Jacob Glandon finished just ahead of Millikin in 14th place, with a time of 18:19. The finish didn’t surprise the English Valley crowd, with Glandon coming off two of his best finishes in the weeks prior.

"I knew Jacob would be up front and stay there as long as he could," E.V. coach Breann Coffman said. "I didn't know if he could maintain it long enough to qualify, but he did and I'm so proud of him."

Glandon had come off of a win at Montezuma two weeks prior, and a second-place finish at the conference meet, of which he led most of the way.

"Jacob is competitive, he's showed it these last few meets," Coffman said. "His goal was to stay up front and not let anyone get past him."

Another local runner came up just short in his bid to making State. Paul Montgomery has been one of the top runners for the Sigourney Savages. He continued to show grit and competitiveness throughout the meet, but just couldn't seem to find a higher gear to finish it off. Montgomery came within three seconds of qualifying, finishing in 16th place with a time of 18:26.

"He, the team and I are all disappointed," Savage coach Andy Harter said. "It wasn't the result we wanted but we have to use it as fuel and motivation for next year."

English Valleys, Pekin and Sigourney had many of their other runner's finish with great times, just not enough to qualify.

English Valleys: Luis Gonzalez (20:50) in 59th place, Charlie Axmear (20:57) in 61st place, Sage Coffman (21:52) in 78th place and Tanner Mihal (23:56) in 106th place.

Pekin: Sam Roth (18:53) in 24th place, Tanner Conger (18:57) in 26th place, Clayton Greiner (21:18) in 66th place and Cole Earnest (22:20) in 88th place.

Sigourney: Tristan Bell (18:52) in 23rd place, Mason Moore (19:20) in 35th place, Dawson Webster (20:53) in 60th place, Jake Ives (21:41) in 72nd place, Mason Dye (21:44) in 74th place and Trace Bell (22:31) in 89th place.

The State meet will take place in Fort Dodge on October 28. The 1A races will begin at 2 p.m. with the girls, followed by the boys at 2:30 p.m. Awards are scheduled to be handed out following the conclusion, at 3 p.m.