FORT DODGE — If there was one place Corning senior Tiffany Shepherd didn’t want to finish here Saturday at the Iowa High School Cross Country Championships, it was 11th place.
After finishing seventh as a freshman and eighth as a sophomore at the state meet, Shepherd finished 11th as a junior, just missing all-state honors and medaling by one spot.
Unfortunately, Shepherd came up just short in her attempt to earn all-state honors for the third time in four trips to the state meet, as North Tama sophomore Abi Watson pulled away from her in the final straightaway to take 10th place, leaving Shepherd to finish 11th for the second straight year.
“Going up the last hill, the whole time we were kind of fighting back and forth, and then there was the finish,” Shepherd said. “She was right there. I could see her. I tried to get her, but I just couldn’t. As long as I tried my hardest, it’s OK.”
Shepherd said she felt like she got out well at the start, and after settling in around 14th place, began moving up during the middle of the race until it came down to her and Watson for 10th place at the end.
Watson pulled away, running a time of 15:15, while Shepherd clocked a 15:20 in the Class 1A girls race.
Griswold sophomore Rebekah Topham won her second-straight Class 1A girls title, running 14:05.
It marked the close to a stellar cross country career for Shepherd.
“It was definitely a good run. I can definitely say I did what I wanted and everything,” Shepherd said as her voice cracked a tears began to flow. “I can’t wait to watch the team next year.”
Nodaway Valley freshman Destiny Scar had a breakout performance Saturday, finishing 16th overall in the Class 1A girls, and was the third freshman finisher in the race.
Scar ran a time of 15:29.
“I thought she did a great job,” Nodaway Valley head coach Darrell Burmeister said. “Our strategy was to kind of stay close with Tiffany Shepherd. She’s been in the top 10 or right there each of the last three years, so I thought that was a good one to kind of key on.”
Burmeister said Scar ran her fastest time of the year since the Audubon meet. Her 16th-place finish also marks one of the best finishes by a Wolverine freshman.
“Megan Winkleman, our two-time champion, I think she finished 22nd her freshman year,” Burmeister said. “A little bit more summer running out of Destiny and she’s got a shot at that top 10 next year.”
Mount Ayr sophomore Adrian Richards made her debut at the state meet Saturday, finishing 35th in the Class 1A girls race, in what was a learning experience.
After running most of the race in the mid-30’s, Richards ran a time of 16:00, which she feels like she can improve on.
“I know I can run better,” Richards said. “I haven’t run much this year, before the season. This year, I’m going to start running during the summer and during the winter, so hopefully I’ll be way better next year.”
Nodaway Valley senior Colton Graham capped off his cross country career with a 28th-place finish in the Class 1A boys race, while freshman teammate Timmy Settlemoir showed he has a promising future by finishing 33rd.
Graham ran one of his best times of the season in 17:17, while Settlemoir ran a big personal best time of 17:22, after having never broken the 18:00 mark before.
“A half-mile out, they were side-by-side,” Burmeister said. “So it was a race down to the end and the senior got him this time. They’re both great runners. (Colton) is going to be going on to the senior all-star meet next week. Great job by both of them.”
It was a solid end to Graham’s career, who really came on strong in the second half of the season.
Meanwhile, with two freshman returning to the team next year with state meet experience, Burmeister has high hopes for next year’s Wolverine team.
“Any experience helps. It was big because it’s very unique, especially on the boys side,” Burmeister said. “I think Dike-New Hartford and Pekin were the only other schools out of about 150 schools that had a freshman boy and a freshman girls as qualifiers.
“We’ve got a nice young boys team coming back, and we’ve got some good 8th-graders coming into the program. We’re excited about the boys program. We’ve got the girls in high school, now we just need to get them out. Hopefully we’ll have two teams here next year.”
IOWA HIGH SCHOOL CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
CLASS 1A GIRLS
1. Griswold 86, 2. Pekin 102, 3. Central Elkader 151, 4. Earlham 161, 5. Dike-New Hartford 172, 6. Denver 180, 7. Bellevue Marquette Catholic 183, 8. Tri-Center 187, 9. Durant 229, 10. Lynnville-Sully 232, 11. Bishop Garrigan 242, 12. Prairie Valley 245, 13. North Linn 256, 14. Underwood 281, 15. Eagle Grove 301.
All-state — 1. Rebekah Topham, Griswold, 14:05; 2. Leah Seivert, Sibley-Ocheyedan, 14:15; 3. Tiffany Christensen, Eagle Grove, 14:29; 4. Gwynne Wright, Pekin, 14:39; 5. Kelsey Kirchoff, Denver, 14:51; 6. Jordyn Sindt, Griswold, 14:54; 7. Jasmine Staebler, Clayton Ridge, 14:56; 8. Emily Campbell, North Butler, 14:58; 9. Kari Fitzpatrick, Edgewood-Colesburg, 15:09; 10. Abi Watson, North Tama, 15:15.
Corning — 11. Tiffany Shepherd, 15:20.
Nodaway Valley — 16. Destiny Scar, 15:29.
Mount Ayr — 35. Adrian Richards, 16:00.
CLASS 1A BOYS
1. CB St. Albert 68, 2. Denver 84, 3. Riverside 158, 4. Wilton 179, 5. Trinity Christian 187, 6. Hudson 188, 7. Highland 197, 8. Dike-New Hartford 202, 9. Bellevue Marquette Catholic 210, 10. West Lyon 214, 11. Woodward Academy 237, 12. BCLUW 240, 13. Central Elkader 255, 14. Alta-Aurelia 274, 15. Logan-Magnolia 320.
All-state — 1. Josh Sindelar, CBSA, 16:15; 2. John Crew, Dike-New Hartford, 16:26; 3. Ben Friederichs, Durant, 16:29; 4. Kyle Kehoe, Denver, 16:30; 5. Zach Marpe, Lake Mills, 16:31; 6. Micah Bajema, West Lyon, 16:42; 7. Scott Theulen, CBSA, 16:43; 8. Jason McVay, Alburnett, 16:44; 9. Andrew Meyer, Bellevue, 16:45; 10. Slater Marshall, Durant, 16:45.
Nodaway Valley — 28. Colton Graham, 17:17; 33. Timmy Settlemoir, 17:22.