SHENANDOAH — With the Creston girls finishing third and the boys finishing fourth Thursday at the Hawkeye 10 Conference cross country meet here, it marked the best joint finish for the two teams in the same season in 25 years.
The accolades for the Creston teams didn’t stop there, though, as the girls junior varsity team won the Hawkeye 10 championship.
The Creston girls varsity team faced stiff competition going up against Class 3A No. 9 Harlan and a strong Shenandoah/Essex team, but competed well and finished third with 78 points. Harlan won the team competition with 33 points and Shenandoah/Essex came in second with 52.
Leading the way for the Panthers was sophomore Maria Mostek, who finished third overall in 15:24 behind Harlan’s Jess Feldman and Bailey Kuhl, after challenging the Harlan duo for much of the race.
After Feldman broke contact from Kuhl and Mostek a little more than halfway into the race, Mostek held a slight advantage over Kuhl until the final 400 meters of the race.
“With Maria, she hung right in there with Feldman from Harlan, and Feldman was able to pull away at the end. Kuhl snuck up on here and overtook her, and we’ll remember that one,” head coach Pat Schlapia said. “She ran a very strong, solid race.”
Senior Emily Wignall became a four-time all-conference performer as she finished seventh with a time of 15:49.
“Emily ran one of her best races of the season,” Schlapia said. “She cut the gap back on Maria somewhat.”
A pair of freshmen — Taylor Briley and Caitlin McIlravy — also ran strong races, as Briley earned a top-20 medal with her 17th-place finish and McIlravy moved into the four-spot for the Panthers, finishing 24th. Both runners finished in under 17:00 for the 4K course, with Briley running 16:32 and McIlravy running 16:57.
“We’ve been stressing about cutting the gap on our first two girls and Taylor made a great stride in doing that,” Schlapia said. “Caitlin McIlravy ran her best race of the season. She was on fire running today.”
Maddie Skarda rounded out the team scoring by finishing 27th. Madison Hance and Jessica Beatty finished 30th and 31st respectively.
The boys team greatly improved on last year’s eighth-place finish, by finishing fourth Thursday with 133 points — four points ahead of Kuemper Catholic, which had beaten the Panthers in each of the teams’ three meetings this year.
Sophomore Jay Wolfe, who missed last year’s conference meet with injury, earned all-conference honors by finishing eighth overall with a new personal best time of 17:40.
Fellow sophomores Kaleb Cook and Brant Hudson stepped up and ran 25th and 26th overall in 18:38 and 18:39, respectively.
“Kaleb Cook in 25th, this was his best race of the season by far,” Schlapia said. “He’s been running consistent, but he made a big jump up. That was awesome to see.”
The close pack of Cook, Hudson and junior Garret Taylor, who finished 32nd, was a big help to the Panther team score.
Kruz Adamson, who rounded out the team scoring by finishing 42nd, also made a big impact on the team scoring, as he passed several runners in the final 400 meters of the race.
“Kruz had a nice finish there,” Schlapia said. “Him picking off a couple of people at the end there, that makes a big difference with that four-point margin over Kuemper. Even those six and seven guys (Travis Miller and Zack Peppmeier), anybody they pick off is going to help us out there.”
Miller and Peppmeier finished 50th and 51st, respectively.
Schlapia said this was the best team finish for the boys team in almost 20 years.
The Creston girls junior varsity team came into the meet gunning for Shenandoah/Essex, which had beaten the Panthers by seven points last week at Atlantic.
Thanks to putting all five scoring runners in the top 17 Thursday, the Creston girls knocked off Shenandoah/Essex for the JV team title by a 53-57 margin.
“The last time we won a girls JV title was back in 1992,” Schlapia said. “That was a proud moment, and the girls were proud to be able to stand up on top of the podium. Seeing them take first, that even shows how strong the whole overall program is right now. I’m very proud of them.”
Scoring runners on the girls JV were Monica Powers (fifth), Jenna Hayes (sixth), Micah McCutchan (12th), Savannah Hartman (13th) and Katie Stevens (17th).
On the boys side, Creston finished seventh in the team standings. Senior Jacob Wolfe once again led the JV boys, finishing 28th in 20:27. Junior Evan Nielsen finished 51st in 21:10.
“Jacob Wolfe has been our top JV runner all season as a senior, and he finished 28th. It was nice to see him finish in those low 20’s,” Schlapia said. “Evan Nielsen finished 51st. He’s been dealing with some major back problems the past few weeks, so it was nice to see him run a tough race like that.”
With Thursday’s meet being the last JV competition for the Panthers this season, it marked the final competition for seven senior runners. Those finishing their cross country careers were Stevens, Taylor Hudson, Carlea Schuler, Emily Lange, Emily Schroeder, Jacob Wolfe and Austin Hurt.
The Creston varsity teams compete in the State Qualifying Meet Thursday in Atlantic. Class 1A action begins at 3:30 p.m. with Class 3A action starting at 4:30 p.m.
HAWKEYE 10 CONFERENCE MEET
GIRLS TEAM SCORES
1.Harlan 33, 2. Shenandoah/Essex 52, 3. Creston 78, 4. Lewis Central 110, 5. Atlantic 122, 6. Glenwood 152, 7. Denison 195, 8. Kuemper Catholic 207.
Leaders — 1. Jess Feldman, Harlan, 14:58; 2. Bailey Kuhl, Harlan, 15:20; 3. Maria Mostek, Creston, 15:24; 4. Tiffany Williams, Atlantic, 15:31; 5. Marissa Klindt, Harlan, 15:39; 6. Meghan Plambeck, Atlantic, 15:43; 7. Emily Wignall, Creston, 15:49; 8. Mariah Johnson, SE, 15:59; 9. Jasmine Glasgo, SE, 16:01; 10. Megan Hart, SE, 16:02.
Creston — 3. Maria Mostek, 15:24; 7. Emily Wignall, 15:49; 17. Taylor Briley, 16:32; 24. Caitlin McIlravy, 16:57; 27. Maddie Skarda, 17:07; 30. Madison Hance, 17:12; 31. Jessica Beatty, 17:13.
Creston JV — 5. Monica Powers, 17:32; 6. Jenna Hayes, 17:34; 12. Micah McCutchan, 17:52; 13. Savannah Hartman, 17:58; 17. Katie Stevens, 18:16; 18. Taylor Hudson, 18:17; 20. Amber Castillo, 18:27; 31. Abbie Cook, 18:46; 33. Raegen Smith, 18:48; 34. Brittney Minson, 18:52; 43. Hannah Johnston, 19:07; 58. Kelsey Donner, 19:48; 71. Ann Waigand, 20:17; 72. Sydney Suiter, 20:24; 81. Carlea Schuler, 21:52; 82. Corissa Kinkade, 22:00; 85. Itzayanna Rubio, 22:44; 89. Emily Lange, 25:29.
Creston MS —
BOYS TEAM SCORES
1. Shenandoah/Essex 38, 2. Glenwood 58, 3. Harlan 88, 4. Creston 133, 5. Kuemper Catholic 137, 6. Lewis Central 152, 7. Red Oak 157, 8. Denison 192, 9. Atlantic 208, 10. Clarinda 245.
Leaders — 1. Sean Skillern, SE, 17:08; 2. Philip Sciranko, Harlan, 17:28; 3. Jeff Reeve, Glen, 17:29; 4. Dustin Werner, Kuemper, 17:30; 5. Chris Brace, Harlan, 17:31; 6. Nate Hoyt, SE, 17:33; 7. Joe Blake, SE, 17:40; 8. Jay Wolfe, Creston, 17:40; 9. Baker Cambridge, Glen, 17:42; 10. Zac McCoy, SE, 17:51.
Creston — 8. Jay Wolfe, 17:40; 25. Kaleb Cook, 18:38; 26. Brant Hudson, 18:39; 32. Garret Taylor, 18:46; 42. Kruz Adamson, 19:19; 50. Travis Miller, 19:39; 51. Zack Peppmeier, 19:41.
Creston JV — 28. Jacob Wolfe, 20:27; 51. Evan Nielsen, 21:10; 87. Michael Walsh, 22:15; 95. Tyler Helm, 22:24; 100. Jacob Geary, 22:47; 115. Tyler Shepherd, 23:55; 120. Kyle Jennett, 24:14; 121. Jeremy Stoll, 24:24; 131. Daniel Scott, 25:25; 134. Austin Hurt, 26:14; 142. Elijah Johnson, 35:23.