Gael girls headed back to state again

Submitted photo The St. Edmond girls cross country team poses with its state tournament banner on Thursday in Holstein.

HOLSTEIN — For a fourth consecutive year, the St. Edmond girls are headed to the state cross country meet.

The Gaels finished third here Thursday at a Class 1A state qualifying meet, two points ahead of ACGC for the final team spot.

They’ll get the chance to compete at home again next week, as Lakeside Golf Course plays host to the state meet on Oct. 28.

Joining the SEHS girls will be Jed Tracy, who grabbed one of the individual spots and will represent the Gael boys.

Audrey Kolacia was the top individual finisher for St. Edmond, placing 12th.

Abby Landwehr was 14th overall and Riley Mayer 17th.

Kolacia had a time of 21:24.46, Landwehr finished in 21:27.83 and Mayer in 21:50.47.

“We knew this would be a tough district and that is exactly what it was,” SEHS head coach Mike Szalat said. “It was definitely a race where all seven of our runners were important.”

Last year, the Gaels placed sixth overall at state and return their top three finishers in Landwehr, Mayer and Kolacia.

Leah Johnson was 24th and Sydney Schulte was 27th as the final two counters for St. Edmond. Both are freshmen this fall, along with Jacey Ash (42nd) and Kelli Kersten (43rd).

“Sydney really stepped up as our fifth runner,” Szalat said. “And Jacey and Kelli were important because they got ahead of some (ACGC) runners to help us finish third.

“Hopefully, next Saturday we can have all seven run their best races.”

Tri-Center’s Peyton Pogge was the race winner in 19:11, with Logan-Magnolia and Alta/Aurelia finishing first and second ahead of the Gaels.

Tracy finished in 15th, earning the final automatic berth. The sophomore is in his first season of cross country after playing football last year in the fall.

“This is a big accomplishment for Jed,” Szalat said. “I told him when we got on the van to come to the meet that it didn’t matter what time he had, he just had to place in the Top-15. He came out with that in his mind and really closed out strong.”

As a team, St. Edmond was 13th. Noah Nelson of ACGC was the race winner, with Tri-Center, ACGC and Council Bluffs St. Albert moving on as the Top-3 teams.

Tracy finished almost eight seconds ahead of the 16th place finisher for the last spot.

Ryan Duckett, a freshman, was 39th overall in 19:02.

“We had great support from the students,” Szalat said. “There were quite a few of them that made the trip over to support St. Edmond cross country and that was just great to see.”