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St. Edmond, area schools eye state cross country bids

Ranked Gael squads take their high hopes to Holstein

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Aubrey Bemrich of St. Edmond runs in last year's state tournament at Lakeside Golf Course in Fort Dodge.

HOLSTEIN — All season long, the St. Edmond cross country teams have improved each time out.

With bigger goals on the horizon, the Gaels are now ready to make the most of their chance to punch state tickets.

The sixth-ranked Gael girls and 17 other Class 1A schools from around northwest Iowa will take part in a state qualifying meet on Thursday. Action is set to begin at 4 p.m. with the girls’ race. The boys will follow at approximately 4:30 p.m.

Area programs East Sac County, Manson Northwest Webster, North Union and West Bend-Mallard will join the Gaels here in the 1A competition.

The St. Edmond girls, who have qualified for state six years in a row, are coming off their first North Central Conference championship in 11 seasons after placing all five girls in the Top-15.

“These girls are confident in their abilities,” said SEHS head coach Mike Szalat. “What they accomplished (last week) was big, but now we have to focus (on Thursday’s meet). We need to run up to our capabilities. This is a one-shot deal.”

Aubrey Bemrich was the top runner with a fifth-place showing. Freshman Michaela Leiting was sixth.

Also placing in the Top-15 was the freshman duo of Hannah Landwehr and Reese Lemberg, who were eighth and ninth respectively. Junior Caroline Shelly was 15th.

“First and foremost, this group is humble. They don’t take anything for granted,” Szalat said. “They were excited to win last Tuesday, but they weren’t over the top. They want to do bigger things, and have remained even-keeled.

“They don’t ever get too high or too low. They display a quiet confidence.”

On the boys side, the ninth-ranked Gaels were fourth in the NCC race. Aaron Lursen was the top performer, taking eighth place.

Grant Heldorfer (15th), Ronnie Orres (22nd), Devon Wirtz (27th) and Hayden Mayer (39th) were other top finishers for St. Edmond.

“The boys have battled some things this year through sickness and injuries,” Szalat said. “They are a lot tougher then they lead on. Some of them were excited with their times (at the NCC), and the guys that were battling through things weren’t happy, which is what you like to see — frustration when they know they could do better.

“Our No. 1 focus since (last week) has been to get them healthy and take care of themselves. We are feeling good about their chances. They have all worked hard, and are ready to go.”

Bishop Garrigan will compete in a Class 1A qualifying meet in Central Springs.

All Messenger-area teams in Class 2A will compete in Eagle Grove. Joining the host Eagles will be Clarion-Goldfield/Dows, Emmetsburg, Pocahontas Area, South Central Calhoun, and Southeast Valley.

Class 1A will have 16 qualifying teams; the top two squads at each site will advance, instead of the usual three. Ten individual state qualifiers for each gender head to Fort Dodge for state, instead of the usual 15.

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