No. 6 Gaels earn runner-up spot at regionals

HOLSTEIN – The St. Edmond girls are headed back to the state cross country meet for a third consecutive season.

Behind a runner-up performance here Thursday in a Class 1A qualifier, the sixth-ranked Gaels will get to play the role of host next Saturday when the state meet takes place in Fort Dodge at Lakeside Golf Course.

Riley Mayer led the pack once again after securing all-North Central Conference honors last week, placing fourth – one spot ahead of Abby Landwehr. Mayer finished in 20:28, while Landwehr completed the race in 20:35.

Audrey Kolacia was seventh overall in 20:40.

Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto claimed the team title on the tiebreaker after finishing deadlocked with the Gaels at 64 points. Bishop Garrigan was fourth, 15 points back of third-place finisher and state qualifier Alta/Aurelia.

“I am just so happy for the girls,” SEHS head coach Mike Szalat said. “While it would have been nice to get the team title, just about everyone ran a personal best. You can’t ask for more than that.”

A year ago – with Mayer, Landwehr and Kolacia all leading the way – St. Edmond placed fifth at state. Landwehr, now a sophomore, was 11th, while juniors Kolacia and Mayer were 14th and 22nd overall.

“Riley has really performed like a No. 1 runner down the stretch,” Szalat said. “I do think she is a more competitive person than she lets on, and that might be what is driving her.

“The gap between our top three has gotten smaller. If we can keep that up, it will help us (at state).”

When Kolacia and Mayer were freshmen, the Gaels placed ninth overall. Kolacia was also ninth individually that year, and Mayer was 10th.

Joeli Koenig was 22nd overall and Jaci Taylor added a 40th-place showing for St. Edmond. Olivia Kolacia was 53rd and Jill Cosgrove 86th to round out the lineup.

“What an incredible race by Joeli, and Jaci had a great time despite battling shin splints,” Szalat said. “You want to see them running their best times right now, and that’s what we are getting.”

Garrigan’s Alisa Altman nailed down an individual bid, finishing 15th in 22:04.

West Bend-Mallard’s Emma Thatcher was 24th overall and Alexis Myers led Manson Northwest Webster with a 51st place finish.

Riley Bauer of North Union easily punched his state ticket, claiming the boys race in 15:54 – over a minute ahead of the runner-up.

Boyer Valley was the team champion, along with the Top-2 individual finishes. Remsen St. Mary’s and Trinity Christian were second and third.

St. Edmond placed 10th overall, led by Patrick Bocken’s 32nd-place performance. Cole Allison was 43rd, Isaac Lursen finished 61st, Jonah Hindt was 77th, Jake Heidenreich 78th and Matt Bennett 87th.

“Just like the girls, the boys all had personal bests,” Szalat said. “You can’t ask for more than that out of them.

“Patrick never ran varsity before this year and he’s been our No. 1. You have to really give a kid like that kudos, because it worked hard this summer and it paid off.”

Bishop Garrigan placed 16th overall with a state qualifier in Ryan Kenyon. The senior was 15th individually in 17:28.

Manson Northwest Webster finished 11th led by Andy Johnson, who finished 34th, while West Bend-Mallard was 18th overall and had Michael Fehr place 44th.

The 1A girls race hits the course at 2 p.m. Saturday, while the boys is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.