The Creston cross country teams had plenty to celebrate at the team’s postseason awards banquet Sunday evening, after a historic season.
But, head coach Pat Schlapia said the only people who should be looking back on this past season are the seniors. Everyone else should be looking ahead to the future.
“Somebody talked to me about not looking back,” Schlapia said. “We’re not looking back, we’re looking forward. The only ones who can look back are the seniors leaving this season. We don’t look back, we always look forward.”
There were plenty of highlights for the Panthers this season.
The boys team qualified for the state meet for the first time in 25 years. With Cooper McDermott, Jay Wolfe and Maria Mostek all qualifying individually, the Panthers sent the most individual qualifiers to state in school history for a single season.
With the three individual qualifiers, the Panthers have now sent 15 individuals to state in the past 14 years.
The boys team won three meets this season — Ballard, Orient-Macksburg and Nodaway Valley. The win at the Nodaway Valley Invitational was the third straight team title for the Panthers at the meet.
The girls team won the Orient-Macksburg meet, giving the Panthers a clean sweep in the team standings. They also finished second at the Nodaway Valley meet to Class 1A top-ranked Griswold.
Mostek became the first Creston girl to ever qualify for the state meet three times.
McDermott broke the single season school record for individual meet wins with six, and became just the second Creston runner to win the Hawkeye 10 Conference Meet.
“This was a very special season for us,” Schlapia said. “A lot of things have happened for us that have never happened before, or it’s been a long time coming. We feel it’s been a very successful season.”
Schlapia stressed that his team shouldn’t rest on the success it had this season.
After having 15 runners participate in the summer running program prior to this season, he said his goal was for that number to double heading into next season.
The Panthers will return 31 runners from this year’s team next year after graduating nine seniors.
Three of those seniors — Garret Taylor, Kruz Adamson and Zack Peppmeier — competed at the state meet as part of the boys team.
For those 31 returners, Schlapia said they should try to repeat the feeling of success they had this year.
It shouldn’t be another 25 years for a boys team to qualify for state, and it shouldn’t take 21-plus years for a girls team to qualify, he said.
“I knew we had a lot of promise coming back, a lot of potential,” Schlapia said. “Sometimes that promise and potential doesn’t follow through. We had a lot of good senior leadership. We talked about running for excellence this season and, by gosh, we ran for excellence each and every meet this season.”
Schlapia said he was extremely proud of the way his runners became a team this season.
“I was really very proud of how this team came together this year,” he said. “Yes, this has probably been one of the most successful boys teams in the past 25 years and one of the most successful girls teams in the past 20 years. Individuals came together as a team this year. When we saw this team bond together, it was more than just what we saw out on the cross country course.”
Schlapia thanked each of the nine seniors for their commitment to the program and for the legacy they will leave behind.
“We always want to make sure we have a nice sendoff for our seniors,” he said.
Seniors Adamson and Taylor were presented with the Chris Wyatt Award.
“The 40 kids we finished the season with, this is a special group of kids,” Schlapia said. “I can’t think of a better group of kids.”
(number of letters)
Freshmen — Isaiah Foster (1), Ben Irr (1), Isaac Wignall (1), Angela Drey (1), Cora Green (1), Rachel Shepherd (1).
Sophomores — Cooper McDermott (1), Jessica Beatty (2), Taylor Briley (2), Madison Hance (2), Micah McCutchan (2), Caitlin McIlravy (2).
Juniors — Kaleb Cook (3), Brant Hudson (3), Jay Wolfe (3), Savannah Hartman (3), Jenna Hayes (2), Maria Mostek (3), Maddie Skarda (3), Raegen Smith (2).
Seniors — Kruz Adamson (4), Jacob Geary (1), Evan Nielsen (2), Zack Peppmeier (3), Daniel Scott (1), Jeremy Stoll (1), Garret Taylor (4), Michael Walsh (1), Itzayanna Rubio (1).
Participation Awards — Kyle Jennett, Elijah Johnson, Nick Walsh, Patrick Normandeau, Jessica Drey, Amber Castillo, Abbie Cook, Sydney Suiter, Ann Waigand, Madison Callahan, Leah Schuler.
State Meet Awards — Maria Mostek, Kruz Adamson, Brant Hudson, Ben Irr, Cooper McDermott, Zack Peppmeier, Garret Taylor, Jay Wolfe.
Chris Wyatt Award — Kruz Adamson, Garret Taylor.
Brandon Gale Award — Dana Miller.
IATC Senior All-Star Meet — Garret Taylor, Kruz Adamson, Zack Peppmeier.
Summer Running Award — Kruz Adamson, Evan Nielsen, Maddie Skarda, Caitlin McIlravy, Maria Mostek, Rachel Shepherd, Raegen Smith, Angela Drey, Garret Taylor, Cooper McDermott, Madison Hance, Zack Peppmeier, Madison Callahan, Cora Green, Jenna Hayes.
Most Improved JV Runner Award — Evan Nielsen, Savannah Hartman.