(KMAland) -- It's fall sports preview time, and while we've been rolling out district football previews all summer and a pair of volleyball previews so far, we're also going to take a deep dive into cross country.
Today, it's a look at the Hawkeye Ten girls conference. These previews are based purely on those that ran at the previous year's conference meet. Let me just say, I really enjoyed it in past years when the H-10 results listed runners individual grade or class. I hope they go back to that this year.
In any event, here are the links to previous fall sports previews:
2020 HAWKEYE TEN CONFERENCE GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY PREVIEW
Atlantic Trojans — Last Year: 4th Place (111 points)
Coach: Dan Vargason
RETURNING: Let’s start with senior Taylor McCreedy, who fought through an injury-riddled junior season before placing 14th at the Hawkeye Ten meet and then qualified for state. I will go ahead and predict she finishes higher — much higher — this season. And with it she will bring along a potential future champion of the league in sophomore Ava Rush, who placed 9th last season. Senior Madison Botos (27th) and sophomores Claire Wiederstein (34th) and Laney Brosam (46th) are also back for the Trojans.
FINAL WORD: Both Rush and McCreedy figure to be in the top 10 — if not the top five — this year in the Hawkeye Ten. With a trio of other strong returnees, I think it’s safe to say Atlantic is in line for a top five conference finish again this year.
Clarinda Cardinals — Last Year: 6th Place (179 points)
Coach: Jane Mayer
RETURNING: Six of the top seven from last year’s conference meet are back for the Cardinals, and that’s led by state-qualifying sophomore Mayson Hartley, who placed sixth in last year’s conference meet. This was a very, very young team last year with juniors Ashlyn Eberly, Molly Lihs and Isabelle Smith going 33rd, 58th and 61st, respectively, at the H-10s last year. In addition, sophomores Keely Boltinghouse and Hannah Milleson ran 38th and 50th.
FINAL WORD: I know there was even more depth to last year’s team than those that ran in the varsity H-10 meet, and I’d expect the Cardinals will continue their climb up the standings. Last year was a huge jump, from not scoring up to sixth place. The talent and depth on this team, especially in the younger classes, is pretty impressive.
Creston Panthers — Last Year: 3rd Place (90 points)
Coach: Pat Schlapia
RETURNING: The Panthers bring back a terrific group from a team that finished strongly at the Hawkeye Ten meet. The defending conference champion and state qualifier Braelyn Baker is back for her senior season and is joined by classmate and fellow state qualifier Paige Davis (5th). Additional seniors Morgan Buxton (31st), Angelina Chuong (36th) and Molly Sickels (44th) are also back. Along with the great senior group, sophomores Riley DeGonia (19th) and Emma Pantini (62nd) are also back in the mix.
FINAL WORD: That’s all seven runners from last year’s third-place team returning for this year’s Panthers. To me, that says they will be right in the running for this year’s championship.
Denison-Schleswig Lady Monarchs — Last Year: 9th Place (201 points)
Coach: Nick Bradley
RETURNING: They’re all back. That includes sophomore breakout Claire Miller, who had a nice finish to the season in taking an 8th at the H-10s and qualifying for the 3A state meet. Senior Isabella Araujo (41st) is also joined by returning juniors Juliana Barajas (51st), Elizabeth Cary (52nd), Olivia Gunderson (57th) and Kaily Cano (66th) and sophomore Lauren Bowker (59th).
FINAL WORD: You’re going to see that many of the top teams from last year are returning a large portion of last year’s running roster, too. So, that might make it hard for the Monarchs to climb the standings too far. However, Miller’s rise to stardom will be one to track as she looks to climb up the individual standings and make another “run” to Fort Dodge.
Glenwood Rams — Last Year: 2nd Place (70 points)
Coach: Dani Woodman
RETURNING: The Rams ran with the pack mentality that you love to see from any strong cross country team, and they were able to advance to state without what many would term a star. Junior Rachel Mullennax might be on her way to that, though, after finishing fourth in last year’s H-10 race. Seniors Emma Hughes and Erin Schultz were both in the top 15, and sophomore Ryley Nebel had a strong 18th-place run as a freshman. Further, senior Karlee Raymond (22nd), junior Riley Wiese (26th) and sophomore Kaitlyn Caries (23rd) also had strong showings all season.
FINAL WORD: Hey, when you bring back all seven from a team that finished second in a strong conference like the Hawkeye Ten and qualified for state, you’re lined up for a pretty good season. The Rams were pretty young and maybe even a little bit of a surprise last year. Everybody will see them coming this year.
Harlan Cyclones — Last Year: 1st Place (40 points)
Coach: Doug Renkly
RETURNING: The defending conference champions had seven of the top 20 runners last year, and they will bring back five of those. Third-place finisher Kaia Bieker is back for her junior season while 10th place finisher Liv Freund enters her senior season. The Cyclones, which also qualified for state and placed fourth in 3A, also bring back plenty of depth and experience. Seniors Brecken VanBaale, Abi Albertson and Olivia Anderson are also back following finishes of 13th, 17th and 20th, respectively.
FINAL WORD: Coach Renkly has things rolling, and despite the losses of two girls that will run in college, it’s likely they will chase another conference championship and state qualification.
Kuemper Catholic Knights — Last Year: 10th Place (312 points)
Coach: Mark Kloser
RETURNING: The Knights had five runners at last year’s conference meet with their highest finish coming from Keziah Janssen in 55th. Juniors Avery Jeschke, Alexandria Klein and Emersyn Walsh and sophomore Lydia Meiners also ran last season at the Hawkeye Ten meet.
FINAL WORD: There was not a lot of experience last year for the Knights, and if the five girls that ran last year can stick with it then they should see some improvement this year. Note: I had a heck of a time finding grades for these girls, so apologies if they are wrong.
Lewis Central Titans — Last Year: 5th Place (121 points)
Coach: Taylor May
RETURNING: Senior Haley Bach is the headliner for the Titans. The reigning KMAland Offensive Player of the Year in softball, ran seventh at last year’s Hawkeye Ten Conference and then qualified for the 4A state meet to finish out a strong junior season. She is one of six returnees from the conference meet, joining juniors Ella Humlicek (24th) and Natalie Smith (29th) and sophomores Ava McNeal (25th), Olivia Arkfeld (37th) and Megan Elam (42nd).
FINAL WORD: The Titans will likely be improved with Bach chasing a conference championship and their next four runners from the H-10 meet all returning to the fold. I’d say another run at a top five finish is more than realistic.
Red Oak Tigers — Last Year: 8th Place (196 points)
Coach: Sueann French
RETURNING: The Tigers have all seven of last year’s conference runners coming back. Seniors Chloe DeVries and Alexa McCunn led the way with 21st and 32nd place finishes, respectively, while juniors Camryn Bass and Aedynn Graham were next at 47th and 49th. Eva Sherman (54th) and Madison Bruce (67th) are both seniors, and Delaney Hall enters her junior year after a 65th-place run last year.
FINAL WORD: When you bring back ALL of your runners from the year before, you have to feel pretty excited about your chances to improve. That’s exactly what the Tigers will look to do with a very experienced group of juniors and seniors in 2020.
Shenandoah Fillies — Last Year: 7th Place (180 points)
Coach: Liz Skillern
RETURNING: The Fillies didn’t continue their streak of finishing in Fort Dodge last year as a team, but there were two girls that moved to state in senior Brenna Godfread and junior Sarah Gilbert. At the H-10s, Godfread went 16th and sophomore Christene Johnson had a solid performance in finishing 35th. Johnson was hardly alone in last year’s freshman class with Kelsey Franklin and Lauryn Dukes taking 43rd and 45th, respectively. The rest of last year’s conference runners are juniors this year: Hadlee Kinghorn (48th), Keelee Razee (56th) and Lucy Martin (64th).
FINAL WORD: Shenandoah should be primed for another nice season. Last year’s team was so young that you might expect a big jump from those going into their sophomore season. Time will tell on that, but I’m guessing they have some pretty big and realistic goals this year.
St. Albert Saintes — Last Year: DNP (N/A)
Coach: Russ Sindelar
RETURNING: St. Albert had two runners at last year’s conference meet, and they both had pretty solid showings. Sophomore Carly McKeever placed 30th, but she rebounded the following week to advance to the 1A state meet (and took 46th). Junior Brenna Smith also ran last year in the H-10s, placing in 40th.
FINAL WORD: I understand they will have more than two runners this year, and if they can add enough to score then they can definitely make some noise. McKeever and Smith are a good start.
CONCLUSION: Harlan’s win last year was by such a wide margin that they might still be able to piece together another championship. However, Glenwood is on the come, Creston is loaded up with experience and Atlantic should definitely be in line to improve their team score, too. For now, Harlan is the champion, until (and if) they’re not.
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