Cross country teams finish strong at State

The men’s and women’s cross country teams took on their last in-state race of the season in cold and harsh conditions, as they competed in the state meet, which was at Fort Dodge Lakeside Golf Course on Friday, Oct. 27. 

On the men’s side, sophomore Jaden Merrick led the way for the Tigers, finishing in second place with a time of 15:13.4, which earned him the 15th fastest time in Iowa history. He was followed by senior Ahmed Aldamak who finished in 16th place (15:54), senior Luke Hartman in 18th  (15:58), junior Connor Martin in 23rd (16:02) and junior John Ferugson in 33rd (16:12). This almost earned the Tigers the state championship; however, they fell 12 points short, landing them a second place finish, their highest finish as a team in recent years. 

“The state meet was an awesome environment. I wasn’t totally happy with my result, but I am proud of the team and the amount of work that we put in. I missed getting on the famous deck by one spot, which hurts, but it is more motivation for track season. Being on a team that was in the top three was a new experience for me, and I am so grateful for everything that happened this season. I am excited for Regionals,” Aldamak said. 

Coach Bret Egan said, “I was super proud of the guys. All of them put hard work in throughout the season, and they gave it their all at the state meet. It is hard to have all of the runners run well at the state meet, but I feel like we had that today. We put up a good performance, and there is nothing to be disappointed about.”

On the women’s side, junior Josee Simonson led the Tigers pack, finishing in 50th place with her time of 19:25. She was followed by senior Anna Becker in 71st, finishing with a time of 19:50. They were followed by junior Zoe Zylstra in 84th (19:59), freshman Emersyn Fonley in 94th (20:10) and senior Maddie Gallagher in 108th (20:18). This earned them a 14th place finish, scoring 347 points. 

Zylstra said, “It was a good season for me. I didn’t quite have the start I wanted, but it got a lot better throughout the season. The state meet is for sure one of the best meets all year, and I am super proud of myself and the team for making it.” 

Although the regular season is over, the men’s team is not done. At the 9/10, junior varsity and varsity levels, they will proceed to Nike Cross Regionals, where they will compete on Nov. 12 at Yankton Trail Park in South Dakota. The varsity team will be looking for a top two finish, which would land them a spot on the plane to Nationals, which takes place in Oregon.

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