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Dodgers, Gaels run at FD Invite

Cross country athletes will get a sneak peek at the state course on Thursday as the Dodgers will host the Fort Dodge Invitational at Lakeside.

If Mother Nature holds off, action begins at 3:45 p.m. with middle school girls and boys to follow at 4:10 p.m. Junior varsity will compete at 4:30 p.m. and 4:55 p.m. with girls and boys, respectively.

Varsity action is set for the girls race at 5:20 p.m. and the boys to follow at 5:45 p.m.

Fort Dodge and St. Edmond will be in action, along with area schools Manson Northwest Webster and Webster City.

Twenty five teams will be in attendance, with over 2,000 runners competing on the state course.

The weather forecast is calling for showers in the morning, with thunderstorms possible early afternoon and through the evening.

“We haven’t been able to run at home in over two years,” said FDSH head coach Joe Jackson. “Hopefully the weather holds off and we can run.

“It’s nice to be able to compete in front of our own fans. We usually have a big crowd and a ton of support.”

As the regular season wraps up and conference meets take place next week, district meets are slated for Oct. 24. State is in Fort Dodge on Nov. 2.

“It’s a home meet for us. I’m grateful to Fort Dodge Senior High for the work that they do for this and the state meet,” said St. Edmond head coach Mike Szalat. “Kevin (Astor, FDSH athletic director who is in his first year) is a very organized guy and is well-respected. He has a great staff, but that starts with his leadership.

“It’s a great course obviously, and we’ve been looking forward to it. Hopefully Mother Nature cooperates. We need to have the mindset that we are going to run and we’ll embrace the situation. We need to worry about the things we can control.”

Szalat loves the fact that the Gaels will be able to compete against the larger schools and run in front of their fanbase.

“The competition is phenomenal,” Szalat said. “A lot of people will come out and watch us. We got out of the Eagle Grove Invitational to be able to run in this. It’s a chance to run on the state course. You can’t pass that up.”

With over 2,000 runners and 25 programs to go along with a big crowd, it takes a lot of extra help to put together an invitational. Jackson is thankful for everyone who is a part of the process.

“Everybody comes out and helps,” Jackson said. “Other coaches, clubs and running groups in town, and the city will be out as well.

“This is a preview for the state meet, and we want to show how welcoming Fort Dodge is and how well we run a meet. We want everything taken care of.”