PANORA - With state cross country bids on the line, the St. Edmond and South Central Calhoun boys each rose to the occasion Monday night.
Running at a Class 2A qualifier, the sixth-ranked Gael boys settled for a runner-up showing with 66 points, while the Titans (106) finished third.
No. 2 North Polk (32) outdistance the rest of the field.
Fourth-ranked senior Seth Reel took home individual gold for SEHS, clocking a mark of 17:24.15. Reel, a school-record holder and 2012 North Central Conference champion, previously placed 52nd in the 2A state meet as a sophomore and sixth in the 1A event as a junior.
"I thought our kids ran a real good race, and it was nice to get a district champion for a third year in a row," said Gael head coach Mike Szalat. "Seth ran a very smart race and never felt any physical stress, so hopefully he's still got something saved up for Saturday (at state)."
Colten Lastine (4th, 18:11.17), Jacob Hamilton (11th, 18:30.86), John Eide (17th, 19:02.68), Casey McEvoy (33rd, 19:29.32) and Harrison Mayer (37th, 19:40.11) were the other St. Edmond participants. Kaden McClintock was forced to drop out of the race early due to a nagging hip injury.
"For Colten to get fourth place was probably one of the best races I've ever had a guy run," Szalat said. "Hamilton and Eide really stepped up for us, too.
"There were a lot of twists and turns on the course, and you could never really get going. With no real straightaways, it was tough for kids to put together a nice little jaunt. North Polk looked solid, though, and packed up real nice."
Ryan Daisy advanced individually for South Central Calhoun with a sixth-place effort in a time of 18:15.27. Tanner Schrad (19th, 19:08.23), Nicholas Collison (20th, 19:11.53), Lucas Farrington (25th, 19:20.32), Matthew Nieland (36th, 19:39.65), Zach Ludwig (50th, 20:26.89) and Ben Clark (73rd, 21:51.34) all represented the Titans.
On the girls side, St. Edmond (124) checked in sixth. No. 9 CMB-Baxter (58) and 11th-ranked North Polk (60) were first and second. South Central Calhoun (164) was eighth.
Mady Dick of the Titans moved on with a fourth-place (16:47.91) individual performance. Rounding out the South Central Calhoun lineup were Michaela Graffunder (26th, 18:33.27), Tess Richardson (27th, 18:41.33), Jacquelyn Carlson (65th, 21:47.90), Maria Dischler (68th, 22:34.32), Tabitha Ferguson (70th, 22:48.26) and Heidi Hunziker (77th, 24:38.73).
Participating for the Gaels were Mary Eide (14th, 17:46.18), Madi Reel (23rd, 18:19.08), Kara Salinas (30th, 18:50.46), Mary-Claire Li (38th, 19:15.80), Jill Doyle (39th, 19:16.11), Leah Cosgrove (40th, 19:17.97) and Carter Waddell (43rd, 19:22.47).
"Our girls missed (state) by 24 points, and I thought they had their best race of the year," said Szalat. "Mary just missed out on qualifying, and we're really going to miss her. She had some medial issues after the race, and I'm not sure if it was dehydration or what. Mary-Claire Li and Kara really closed the gap and had the best races of their careers for me, too.
"Our girls didn't have the most successful year, but they certainly ended strong. Hopefully, this will add a little fire in our belly for next year."
No. 2 Sybbie Sears of North Polk posted an individual triumph in 16:26.36. Greene County's 29th-ranked Allison Higgins (16:36.45) was the runner-up.
The 34th annual co-ed state cross country meet will be held Saturday at Fort Dodge Lakeside Golf Course. Start time is set for 11 a.m.