WINTERSET — Creston junior Maria Mostek accomplished something here Thursday afternoon that no other girl in Creston history has accomplished.
Mostek, with her eighth-place finish at the Class 3A State Qualifying Meet, became the first Creston girl to ever qualify for the state cross country meet three times.
“I’ve been aiming for running at state ever since summer,” Mostek said. “It feels really good to qualify for a third time.”
Mostek got out hard, but found herself hovering around the 10th and final individual qualifying spot early in the race.
It made for a few nervous moments in the race.
“There were parts of the race like going up hills and people were like, ‘oh, she’s right behind you!’ Or ‘nine and ten (places),” Mostek said. “I just didn’t want to get to that 11th spot. I just ran like I knew I could (finish top 10).”
But, as the runners moved into the back side of the course, Mostek moved up to eighth place and held that spot through the end of the race.
“She had a goal, and she went out and accomplished it,” head coach Pat Schlapia said. “She ran tough as nails. She looked very fluid in her running. She was very focused.”
Schlapia said for Mostek to qualify for state three times in a row proves she’s one of the best runners in the state.
“It’s hard to qualify for the state cross country meet as an individual,” he said. “It’s even harder to qualify twice. It’s even harder to qualify three times. She’s had a lot of moxie and a lot of guts in qualifying three years in a row.”
As a team, the Panther girls finished seventh out of 13 teams in a highly-competitive team race.
Creston finished with 165 points, 10 points behind conference rival Shenandoah/Essex for sixth, and two points ahead of Glenwood. Humboldt won the team title with 67 points, Winterset finished second with 81 and Dallas Center-Grimes third with 97 points.
Aside from Mostek’s state-qualifying performance, Panther sophomore Taylor Briley also stepped up and had a big race.
Briley finished 16th in 15:49, just :32 behind Mostek. Closing the gap on Mostek is something Schlapia has stressed to Briley and the rest of his runners all year.
“Taylor Briley ran her best race of her young high school cross country career there today,” Schlapia said. “We’ve really been harping on her to get out harder that first mile, and she did. That was a fantastic race for her to end her season on.”
Raegen Smith finished 41st for Creston, while Jessica Beatty crossed in 49th and Savannah Hartman rounded out the scoring five in 51st.
“Raegen had a fine race once again,” Schlapia said. “Jessica Beatty, she’s been pretty steady for us all season. Savannah Hartman was right there with her. Overall, we had about a 1:30 gap, but you can’t fault them for giving their best effort.”
Jenna Hayes in 56th and Madison Hance in 64th rounded out the varsity seven for Creston.
Mostek will compete at the State Cross Country Meet at noon on Nov. 2 at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge.
Class 3A State Qualifying Meet
GIRLS TEAM SCORES
1. Humboldt 67, 2. Winterset 81, 3. Dallas Center-Grimes 97, 4. Harlan 123, 5. Ballard 126, 6. Shenandoah/Essex 155, 7. Creston 165, 8. Glenwood 167, 9. Atlantic 191, 10. Madrid 263, 11. ADM 270, 12. Saydel 341, 13. Perry 349.
State qualifiers — 1. Abby Kohut-Jackson, Ballard, 14:32; 2. Sam Larson, Humboldt, 14:40; 3. Madison Waymire, DCG, 14:58; 4. Maddie Kampen, Humboldt, 15:06; 5. Layken Gurwell, Winterset, 15:07; 6. Brianna Mueller, ADM, 15:11; 7. Tiffany Williams, Atlantic, 15:14; 8. Maria Mostek, Creston, 15:17; 9. Megan Hart, Shenandoah/Essex, 15:25; 10. Sophia Luu, Humboldt, 15:27.
Creston — 8. Maria Mostek, 15:17; 16. Taylor Briley, 15:49; 41. Raegen Smith, 16:49; 49. Jessica Beatty, 17:07; 51. Savannah Hartman, 17:09; 56. Jenna Hayes, 17:21; 64. Madison Hance, 17:42.