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Panthers reflect on qualifying for state

Published: Friday, Oct. 25, 2013 3:34 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Oct. 25, 2013 7:03 a.m. CDT

WINTERSET — One thing was clear here Thursday night at the Class 3A State Qualifying Meet — the Creston boys cross country team was excited to be heading to state for the first time since 1988.

Sophomore Cooper McDermott is in his first year as a Creston Panther, but has state meet experience having run in the Class 4A competition last year for Newton. This will be his first opportunity to compete at the state meet as part of a team, however.

“We’ve been working for it,” McDermott said. “The team went out there and did well, and it was nice to come out and make it to state as a team.”

Once the race was over, the wait to find out the team results had the Panthers on edge.

“It’s kind of nerve-wracking,” junior Jay Wolfe said.

The wait probably seemed like an eternity for freshman Ben Irr, who found himelf in the unfavorable spot of finishing 11th individually — one place away from qualifying as an individual.

“It was kind of stressful at first, but I was pretty sure we’d make it as a team,” Irr said. “It was really tense.”

And how did he feel when he found out the Panthers finished third, earning a spot as a team, and sending him to state as a freshman despite missing out as an individual?

“I was so relieved,” he said. “It felt amazing!”

“I was pretty proud of our whole team for doing what we were able to do,” junior Brant Hudson said. “It’s amazing that after 25 years, we were able to do this.”

Hudson is part of a family that includes a long list of runners that preceded him. Only one of those previous family members has run at the state meet, so the opportunity for him to compete at state is a special feeling.

“It means a lot to my family, because there’s a lot of runners that I look up to,” he said. “So far, none of them have gone to state except for you (Scott Vicker), and me being the first Hudson to go up to state feels pretty cool. It feels like we’re starting a new chapter.”

Zack Peppmeier, a senior, is happy to be extending his high school cross country career another week.

“I’m really glad that we could go out there and still have another week and a half of running,” he said. “I did not want my season to end today. I’m glad it didn’t. We proved to ourselves we could go out there, run as hard as we could and go to state.”

Senior Kruz Adamson said being part of the “cross country family” is an even better feeling now that he’ll be competing at the state meet.

“It’s kind of another shot at what I want,” Adamson said. “Everyone on our team has worked so hard. We all wanted this and we all expected it from each other. Since I was little, I’ve been a part of this team for a long time. I watched you (Vicker) race. I kind of wanted this whole (cross country) family. It feels great to know I’m part of the team and now that we’re going to state, it’s a greater feeling.”

Garret Taylor, the third senior on the team, is going to savor every last moment with this team that he possibly can.

“To extend my career another week is probably one of the biggest things about this whole state experience,” Taylor said. “I mean, I love my team more than anything. We’ve all become really close. We’re like brothers. The memories we make are absolutely great. I didn’t want it to stop. I don’t see Jay or Cooper or Brant, any of them in any other sports, and the memories we made this year are absolutely phenomenal, and I’m glad we can keep making them.”

Wolfe said being the first boys team in 25 years to qualify for state means a lot to this team, and they didn’t want to accomplish this feat for themselves.

“It means a lot. We’ve been working so hard in practice,” Wolfe said. “Coach (Pat Schlapia) has been having some family issues, so we just wanted to do it for him, for his mom, for anybody. We know we’ve got supporters in the community, so we just wanted to do it for everyone.”

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