Craig Doocy coached a lot of talented runners during his 28 years as the head coach of the Ankeny girls’ cross country team.
Doocy took over the program in 1989 and guided the Hawkettes to 15 state-meet appearances before retiring after the 2016 season.
“I was blessed with coaching so many awesome, hard-working, dedicated student-athletes that I was confident would continue to succeed and achieve during high school and beyond,” Doocy said.
Eric Cogdill served as an assistant under Doocy in 2012 and then moved across town to start Ankeny Centennial’s program the following year. He has led the Jaguars to the state meet in seven of his eight seasons as the head coach.
Like Doocy, Cogdill has coached some of the best runners that the city of Ankeny has ever produced.
“From the onset, I can say this about every girl on this list,” said Cogdill. “They had tremendous support at home. They put trust in a process that required lots of hard work and sacrifice. They cared deeply about the culture of our team. And they were excellent in the classroom.”
The continuity of the coaches likely has contributed to the success of both programs. Eric Klingensmith replaced Doocy in 2017 and led Ankeny to the state meet this fall for the first time, thanks in no small part to a soccer player who unexpectedly became one of the state’s top runners.
Here, then, is the Ankeny Fanatic all-time Ankeny girls’ cross country team, comprised of 22 runners on three squads:
Gina Gelatti. She was a standout on the track, but because she also played volleyball, she didn’t go out for cross country until she was a junior in 1995, when she immediately became Ankeny’s best runner. She was the Hawkettes’ top finisher at nine different meets, including a second-place finish at the Ames Invitational in her first cross country race. Gelatti placed third in the CIML National Conference meet, then took fourth at the district meet as Ankeny qualified for state for the first time under Doocy. She finished sixth or higher at eight different meets and went on to place 23rd at the state meet, leading the Hawkettes to a 13th-place finish in Class 3A. As a senior, Gelatti helped Ankeny to six titles, including its first National Conference crown, where she was the runner-up. The Hawkettes also won a district title before placing ninth at state, where Gelatti took 21st and set a personal record with a time of 12 minutes 12 seconds. She posted an average time of 12:20 for the second straight year, the fastest average ever by a runner under Doocy, and was a repeat selection as the team’s Most Valuable Runner. She was the squad’s top finisher at nine of the 10 meets. The only exception was at the district meet, where she collapsed about 200 meters from the finish line. “The longer that Gina stayed on the cross country team, the more appreciation she had for the sport,” Doocy said. “Her desire and dedication continued until she graduated from AHS, and then she continued her running career in college. It was my pleasure to be her coach.”
Emma Gordon. She was a two-time state qualifier at Mediapolis before moving in 2016 to Ankeny, where she became a two-time qualifier at Centennial as well. She enjoyed a tremendous junior season, winning six races and leading her team to five titles. Gordon and the Jaguars swept the conference and regional meets, a feat that had never been accomplished by an Ankeny team. At the conference meet, she won the race in a time of 19 minutes 1 second, which set the 5K school record. She placed 73rd at the state meet, helping her team to an eighth-place finish. In 2017, she had four top-10 finishes, including a fourth-place finish at the regional meet. She then placed 52nd at the state meet as the Jaguars finished 13th. Gordon was also an academic all-state selection. “Even before Emma ran in her second state meet for Mediapolis her sophomore year, her family had decided to move back to Ankeny where her grandparents live and her dad graduated. We waited eight months for her to finish out the school year before she came to town,” Cogdill said. “Emma’s times would have made her our No. 5 or No. 6 returning runner. However, times on paper do not reveal Emma’s lunch-pail mindset and champion approach. She welcomed the challenge and then strived to become the best person in the room. Knowing her spot on the team encouraged her to work to get better and that work ethic immediately pulled our team up. Not only did Emma join our top training group, but she also pushed the pace pulling everyone up with her. Most notably, we swept the team and individual titles at both conference and state qualifying, cementing her legacy as one of the top runners in city history. An untimely asthma attack at state prevented her from a top-10 finish.” Gordon continues to run at Iowa, where she competed at the Big 10 and NCAA Regional meets last season.
Lauren McMahon. As a senior, she came out for the sport this fall for the first time since eighth grade and immediately became Ankeny’s top runner and one of the state’s best. She won six of her eight races, including the CIML Iowa Conference meet, which she won in a personal-best time of 18 minutes 14 seconds. Many of her races weren’t even close. At the conference meet, she finished 38 seconds ahead of runner-up Rondi Quass of Ankeny Centennial. McMahon then won the regional meet before placing sixth at the state meet, where she posted a time of 18:28 and led the Hawkettes to a 12th-place finish in Class 3A. “I learned a lot from this season,” said McMahon, who previously played club soccer in the fall. “One big thing I took away is with hard work and passion for what you are doing, you can pretty much achieve any goal you set for yourself as long as you really put in the work. You can do way more than you think you can! I learned a lot about the importance of support from teammates. There were hard workouts where I wanted to slow down or stop, but my teammates pushed me to continue and give it all I had.” McMahon’s success quickly drew the attention of college coaches. She earned a scholarship to Iowa after running just a few races. “Lauren was quite a surprise to our team during the 2020 season,” Klingensmith said. “At first when coach Stapp told me that we’d have a soccer player joining our team as a senior, I thought she’d be a great asset to our team, but I never thought that she’d become our No. 1 runner and all-time highest place finisher at state for the 5K race. We never were able to actually ‘look’ at her running style and form until mid-summer. However, she did use our app consistently so we could see her mile times and average pace. While she exceeded all of our expectations during the short summer training we were able to hold, we found out how great she was at our first competition of the season. Her dominance during that race, and the majority of the races this season, demonstrated her focus and competitive nature. We talked to her about race strategy and training paces to help her understand the sport better. She constantly wanted to learn more, and we gave her all we could this season. While she didn’t finish the season where she wanted, having a senior compete at such a high level and earn a place on Iowa’s team is unheard of in our sport. The only regret we have is not finding her sooner. Lauren will continue to grow as a runner and competitor for Iowa, and we will continue to keep tabs on her.” Let’s make McMahon the co-captain of our all-time team. “I really haven’t looked much into the history of Ankeny’s program, and I’m not sure where I would land,” she said. “I know there were many successful runners, so being included with them is quite the honor!”
Jill Nelson. She developed into one of the state’s best runners as a freshman in 1993, when she placed in the top four at eight different races and was named Ankeny’s Most Valuable Runner. She took third at the conference meet and fourth at the district meet, then raced to a fourth-place finish at the state meet–which remains the highest finish ever by an Ankeny runner. She started out in about ninth place, moved up to sixth at the 1-mile mark and eventually posted a time of 12:06.7 in the 2-mile race. She held off several other runners in the final 200 yards while setting a new personal record. She posted an average time of 12:37. As a sophomore, Nelson placed third or higher in seven of her 11 races and captured her first cross country title when she won the CIML National Conference meet in 12:12, which was also the first victory by an Ankeny runner under Doocy. She took second at the Newton Invitational to lead the Hawkettes to the team title. She was the runner-up at the district meet, then placed 12th in Class 3A in 12:04, which set another personal record. She was again named the team’s Most Valuable Runner. In 1995, Nelson placed in the top 10 at six different meets and helped Ankeny to a pair of titles. The Hawkettes also advanced to state as a team for the first time under Doocy, placing 13th in Class 3A. Nelson took 40th in a time of 12:30. As a senior, she placed eighth at the district meet to help Ankeny to the team title. She then ended her career with a 70th-place finish at state, where she helped the Hawkettes to a ninth-place finish. She joined Ankeny’s cross country Hall of Fame along with teammates Gelatti and Rachel Johnson. “She was blessed with about as much talent as any runner that I was ever fortunate enough to coach,” Doocy said. “Jill had the highest finish at the state meet of any runner I coached at AHS. Injuries kept her from possibly achieving even more. She was a lot of fun to have on the team.”
Rondi Quass. The youngest member of our team, she cracked Centennial’s varsity lineup as a freshman in 2019, then developed into one of the state’s best runners as a sophomore this fall–when she was the Jaguars’ top finisher at every meet. She placed in the top 10 in each of her first seven races. She was the runner-up at the Valley Invitational and also took second at the Iowa Conference meet, where she set a school record with a time of 18 minutes 52 seconds and led her team to the title. She went on to place 14th at the state meet in 18:54, leading the Jaguars to a third-place finish–the best performance in school and city history. “I first got into cross country after trying out for track in the spring of eighth grade and realizing I liked to run,” Quass said. “I never saw myself as a distance runner, but my friends convinced me to try out Cog’s summer training camp. Cog also reached out and told me to try distance running out. Over the summer, I realized I connected more with the sport of running, and I loved the people I got to run with. I like to push myself to do the best I can at whatever I’m doing, but I can’t say I expected to be where I am today. I truly owe it all to the coaches at Centennial and the supportive culture of our team.” Cogdill said he thinks Quass will become even better as she gains more experience. “Rondi came to us as a freshman with a diverse background of volleyball, club soccer and powerlifting. She also ran the 400-meter dash and hurdled in track,” he said. “She had not previously done distance running and yet her talent was immediately evident as she ran a top-10 all-time mile time trial at her first day of practice. Unfortunately, due to that limited background, her engine was underdeveloped for 5K and it took another year to see her talents fully shine as she went from a non-qualifier as a freshman to a state medalist as a sophomore. Rondi is very levelheaded, sees the big picture, and put great trust in what I share with her. Those qualities helped her not only get through the disappointment of missing state but also a cancelled track season last spring due to COVID-19. Facing those barriers head on, she put in tremendous work independently. And as great as she has been already, I anticipate Rondi will blossom even further next fall after putting a full track season under her belt.”
Kate Smith. She was a standout at both schools, helping Ankeny to a pair of state-meet appearances before moving across town to Centennial, where she was the Jaguars’ top runner in 2013-14. As a junior, she won the Ankeny Invitational and led the Jaguars to the team title. She had four other top-five finishes. She went on to place 10th at the state meet, leading Centennial to a 10th-place finish. In 2014, Smith won the Indianola Invitational and had seven other top-10 finishes. She took seventh at the CIC meet and second at the regional meet before placing 11th at the state meet, where she posted a time of 14 minutes 46 seconds for the second straight year and led her team to a ninth-place finish. One week later, she ran in the Nike Heartland Regional meet at Sioux Falls, S.D., and posted a 5K time of 18:15, defeating three of the four state champions head-to-head. “My favorite high school memory was traveling to that race with a few of my teammates,” Smith said. “We would get there a few days early to explore the area, talk to athletes from other schools, and meet Nike athletes at the pre-race dinner. We all grew immensely closer and made great memories. The race itself had obstacles to race over and always had a massive crowd to cheer you on. I never placed too much pressure on myself and ended up performing better because of it!” There were only two girls Smith never defeated in her final two seasons–future NCAA champ Karissa Schweizer and World Junior silver medalist Stephanie Jenks. “Kate is an athlete who benefited greatly from the split in that she had an abundance of coaches who were able to make an impact on her. I feel fortunate that I was next in line to continue that work,” Cogdill said. “She fell in love with running at an early age and became a consumer of the sport–reading magazines, following professional athletes and even writing her own training plans before middle school. She paired that love of the sport with a natural running form and an unrelenting work ethic. Kate loved the process as much as the product and made it look easy, but that was hardly the case. It would boggle the minds of most if I shared the workouts she completed as she made her climb to one of the best runners in the state and one of the top recruits in the Midwest.” Smith, who went on to run for Missouri, credits her dad for her work ethic. “He has always been my role model,” she said. “Through his example, my dad taught me that obstacles are part of the journey and that success is never linear. He taught me to never quit when the going gets tough. I’ve always had a drive to become the best version of myself, and it was my dad that taught me the values and habits I needed to possess to get there.” Let’s make Smith the co-captain of our team along with McMahon.
Tammy Stordahl. She was a three-time conference champion at Ankeny, where she was also a four-time state qualifier and a two-time top-20 finisher. As a freshman in 1980, she placed third at the conference meet and then helped Ankeny to a 10th-place finish at state. In 1981, she led the Hawkettes to the conference title and then finished 41st at state, where she helped her team to a seventh-place finish. As a junior, she led the way as Ankeny went undefeated in dual competition and won three major meets, including the conference meet. Stordahl defended her conference title and set a school record with a time of 15 minutes 11 seconds. She went on to place 16th at the state meet in 12:07, leading her team to a 15th-place finish. In 1983, she was one of only nine girls on the squad, but Ankeny still placed in the top four in seven of its nine meets and won the Newton Invitational title. Stordahl captured her third straight conference title and won every other meet during the regular season except the Urbandale Invitational, where she placed second. She went on to place 20th at the state meet.
Mary Bellizzi. She led Ankeny to three consecutive state-meet appearances from 1979-81. As a sophomore, she finished in the top 50 at state as the Hawkettes earned a 12th-place finish. In 1980, she led the way as Ankeny won its first five meets of the season, including four invitationals. She was the runner-up at the conference meet, then later helped the Hawkettes to a 10th-place finish at state. As a senior, she was part of a five-person team that won the conference and then captured a district title for the first time in school history. Bellizzi capped off her high school career with a 25th-place finish at the state meet, where she helped Ankeny to a seventh-place finish.
Megan Gray. She was a three-time state qualifier at Centennial from 2014-16 before missing her final season due to a knee injury. As a freshman, she placed second on the team with a 15:20 average. She finished 19th at the state meet in 15:07, helping the Jaguars to a ninth-place finish. She was the fourth-fastest freshman among all classes at the state meet. In 2015, Gray helped Centennial to four titles during the season. She was the team’s top finisher at the state meet, placing 38th as the Jaguars earned a 14th-place finish. As a junior, she helped Centennial to the conference title. She then took 55th at the state meet, helping the Jaguars to an eighth-place finish. “Megan is one of the finest examples of a multi-sport athlete sharing her talents within our school district,” Cogdill said. “As a freshman, she accepted an invitation to train in the Olympic Development Program for soccer and she always knew she was going to be an NCAA Division I soccer player. None of that (convinced) her to specialize, and instead she took part in two additional sports at Centennial. Megan even showed that one could compete in cross country while concurrently playing a full fall select club soccer season. I most remember Megan for the tremendous amount of heart she showed when she competed. She was never running for herself, but for a greater cause. Additionally, she always showed her best stuff on the biggest stage.” Gray, who was earlier named to Ankeny Fanatic’s all-time Ankeny girls’ soccer team, is currently playing that sport at Minnesota. But she fondly recalled her cross country days. “My favorite memory would just be the people. I made friends that I still keep in touch with today and being able to get to know them and share so many highs and lows is something that I will continue to cherish,” Gray said. “Just being able to compete and represent my high school through running cross country was something that always motivated me. I obviously didn’t play high school soccer until my senior year so that was my opportunity to compete in high school sports.”
Mackenzie Madison. She was a four-year varsity regular who helped Ankeny to four consecutive state-meet appearances, including back-to-back top-10 finishes in 2002-03. As a freshman in 2000, she placed 17th at the conference meet to help the Hawkettes to the league crown. She improved to a ninth-place finish the following year, when she also placed second on the team with a 12:53 average. She led Ankeny with a 38th-place finish at the state meet, helping the team to a 14th-place finish. As a junior, Madison again led the way at the state meet, placing 30th in a time of 15 minutes 12 seconds as the Hawkettes earned a seventh-place finish in Class 3A. Ankeny also won four titles during the season, including another conference crown. In 2003, Madison led the team with a 16:22 average despite missing the first four meets due to a heel injury. She never fully recovered, but still managed to break the 16-minute mark in three of her five varsity races. She was the team’s top finisher at the state meet for the third straight year, placing 28th in 15:33 as the Hawkettes finished eighth in Class 4A. “Mackenzie probably spent more time training than any runner I coached,” Doocy said. “On her rest days she would still put in a 10-plus mile day which helped her to progress every season and at the state meet she was always at her best. She was a model of what hard work and dedication could achieve.” Madison went on to run at Iowa State and then became a professional triathlete.
Alex Robran. She was Ankeny’s No. 1 runner from 2014-17 and a three-time state qualifier. As a freshman, she led the team with a 16:00 average and was named the Hawkettes’ Most Valuable Runner. She was the squad’s top finisher at the last nine meets, including the regional meet, where she placed 12th and just missed qualifying for state. In 2015, she took third at the Newton Invitational to lead Ankeny to the team title. She later qualified for state as an individual and placed 64th in Class 4A. As a junior, she placed 47th at state as the Hawkettes finished 15th in Doocy’s final season. “She probably grew more as a runner and leader than any runner I was able to coach, so much so that she has continued her career in college,” Doocy said. “It’s rare when a runner trusts a coach’s word as much as Alex did. I felt fortunate to be able to coach her at the end of my coaching career.” In 2017, Robran had seven top-10 finishes under the tutelage of Klingensmith, including a third-place finish at the conference meet. She again qualified for state as an individual and capped off her career with a 20th-place finish in a time of 19 minutes 23 seconds. “Alex was my first standout runner at Ankeny during my first season as head coach and her last season as a Hawkette,” Klingensmith said. “She was used to a specific style of training and some of that changed with my coaching philosophy and training for her. Her quiet leadership and competitive nature caused her to be a great leader for our team in action as many of our team members followed her lead by writing inspirational words/quotes on their legs like Alex. When we needed to push her more in practice, many of the interval running segments of her training were against the coaching staff, and she continued to grow as a top performing runner. In our first race of the season, she astonished even herself with her finish time at the DMACC course. We kept pushing from that point on and she qualified for state as an individual. Ultimately, she earned herself a spot on the University of Minnesota Duluth cross country team where she continues to run to this day.”
Kelsey Singletary. She was a three-state qualifier from 1996-99. As a freshman, she placed fifth on the team with a 13:03 average as Ankeny won the conference and district titles before placing ninth at the state meet. She finished 80th in Class 3A with a time of 13:12. In 1997, she placed 119th at state as the Hawkettes finished 16th. As a junior, Singletary won the Ames Invitational for her first cross country victory. She placed second on the team with a 12:57 average. In 1999, she placed in the top 10 at seven different meets. She helped Ankeny to the Newton Invitational title, then later placed fourth at the district meet. Singletary then capped off her career with a 17th-place finish at the state meet, where she set a school record with a time of 11:50. “You always dream that you’ll have your best race at the state meet,” Doocy said at the time. “And Kelsey had her best race ever by far.” She was named the team’s Most Valuable Runner after leading the squad with a 12:24 average. “She probably improved about as much as any runner that I ever had at AHS,” Doocy said. “Kelsey progressed as a competitor. In her four years she progressed through the ranks on our team and the state, culminating with a great final race.”
Leslie Stanley. She was a standout runner from Bondurant who earned a pair of top-20 finishes at the state meet for Ankeny, one of only four girls in city history to achieve that accomplishment. In 1987, she placed 18th at the state meet. Then, the following year, she took 17th as the Hawkettes earned a fifth-place finish, which remains the highest finish in school history. Ankeny won six titles during the season, including the conference and district meets. “From day one the girls were planning on going to state and they set their goals and took each meet one at a time,” coach Roy Crabtree said at the time. Stanley also set a school record with a time of 11 minutes 43 seconds. Stanley’s sisters, Melissa and Paula, were also members of the team. Melissa led Ankeny to a seventh-place finish at the state meet in 1985, when the Hawkettes benefited from a law passed by the Iowa state legislature that allowed student-athletes from another school to participate in cross country. That year, four girls from Bondurant joined the team.
Kathryn Vortherms. She was a four-time state qualifier at Centennial who helped the Jaguars to a third-place finish at this year’s state meet, the highest finish ever by any Ankeny squad. She earned a spot in the varsity lineup late in her freshman season in 2017, when she helped the Jaguars to a 13th-place finish at the state meet. As a sophomore, she took 73rd in Class 4A as Centennial earned a 15th-place finish. As a junior, Vortherms was the team’s top finisher at four of the seven meets. She helped the Jaguars to team titles at both the Valley and Indianola meets. She placed fifth at the conference meet, then took sixth at the regional meet to qualify for state as an individual. She then finished 32nd at the state meet in a time of 19 minutes 29 seconds. As a senior, Vortherms took 10th at the conference meet to help Centennial to the team title. She went on to finish her career with a 58th-place finish at the state meet. “I have so many memories from cross country, but I think my favorite ones are the pre-meet traditions,” Vortherms said. “We would do a really chill run and then Cog would give us a little pre-meet talk. Usually it was a topic or something, and they’re always really good. And spaghetti dinners are always so fun! Then the day of the meet I would always share headphones with Jess(lyn Gaumer) on the bus and we would listen to pump up music, and then when we got to the meet we would always write inspirational phrases and draw on the backs of our legs!” Vortherms has committed to join Iowa’s track and field program next year. “Kathryn was another diverse talent with a large soccer background and success as a long sprinter on the track team. She definitely had a love for running, though,” Cogdill said. “Her mom shares that in Kathryn’s younger years, she could be found running up and down the field at soccer matches whether she had the ball or not. Kathryn is one who always has a book nearby and I most remember her for her 100 percent focus on anything I had to say. When you speak with her, I have always had the feeling that in her mind there is nothing else going on in the world but the conversation at hand. She is highly coachable and receptive to feedback, which is why she saw tremendous growth over the years. Kathryn moved from JV runner to varsity member as a freshman, then to varsity scorer as a sophomore and then varsity leader as a junior. Like Megan, Kathryn also competed in a full club soccer season. She loves a challenge and will be joining the 800/1,500 training group next year for the Iowa Hawkeyes track and field team.”
Jessica Brandhorst. She was a four-year varsity regular from 1999-2002 who ran in three state meets. As a freshman, she placed 13th at the conference meet and finished second on the team with a 12:55 average. In 2000, she helped Ankeny to the inaugural CIML Central Conference title, contributing a 12th-place finish. She later placed 79th at the state meet while helping the Hawkettes to a 15th-place finish. She led the team with a 12:58 average. As a junior, she placed 67th at the state meet, helping Ankeny to a 14th-place finish. In 2002, she took third at the Ankeny Invitational as the Hawkettes won the crown and tied their best team score ever under Doocy (26 points). She later won the conference meet for the first victory of her career, helping Ankeny to the title. “She was a very driven runner in her four seasons at AHS,” Doocy said. “Jessica was dedicated to learning and working harder every year, which ended up garnering her a conference individual title and helping the team win as well.” She then placed second at the district meet, leading the Hawkettes to another crown. At the state meet, she placed 31st in a time of 15:14 to help Ankeny to a seventh-place finish in Class 3A, its highest finish under Doocy. Brandhorst, who was selected to the academic all-state team, led the Hawkettes with a 15:48 average and was named the squad’s Most Valuable Runner along with Dawn Caffrey. “Jessica and Dawn did so much for the team, and I’m not just talking about their running ability,” Doocy said at the time. “They provided a lot of leadership both before and after the meets.”
Taylor Brown. Like Kate Smith, she was a standout at both schools. As a freshman at Ankeny in 2012, Brown won the Ankeny Invitational to lead the Hawkettes to a sweep of the top five places for a perfect score of 15 points. She later placed 58th at the state meet, helping Ankeny to a 15th-place finish. Brown and Smith led the squad with a 15:45 average and were named the team’s Most Valuable Runners. After moving across town to Centennial, she placed second at the Ankeny Invitational in 2013 to help the Jaguars to the team title. She went on to place 39th at the state meet in a time of 15 minutes 19 seconds as Centennial finished 10th in its state-meet debut. As a junior, Brown helped the Jaguars to a ninth-place finish in Class 4A. She then won the Indianola Invitational in 2015, leading Centennial to one of its four titles that season. The Jaguars went on to place 14th at the state meet. “Taylor is one of the two grittiest girls I have ever coached,” Cogdill said. “She had an uncanny ability to squeeze the last drop of energy from her body to make a mad dash to the finish line. She called this ‘summoning her spirit’–and it could be breathtaking and team-changing. For example, in the first year after the split, Taylor passed five girls in the final half-mile at state qualifying. We secured the final team spot by five points, ending Valley’s 23-year streak of qualifying for state. She ran 2:58 for the final half-mile (18:45 pace) to end that race! However, it could also be scary. At state qualifying in 2014, Taylor made an even bigger move to help us finish within three points of Ames, who ended up third at state that year. Afterwards, it took her over 10 minutes to regain consciousness and she did not fully recover by the state meet. Taylor’s place in history is that she is the only girl in the city of Ankeny to have finished in the top 10 at state qualifying all four years of high school.” She went on to run at the NCAA Division I level for the University of South Dakota.
Bryna Copes. She ran in only three varsity meets as a freshman in 2000, but then became one of Ankeny’s top runners over the next three seasons. As a sophomore, she placed sixth at the Newton Invitational to help the Hawkettes to the team title. She was the team’s top finisher at five of the 10 meets and had five top-10 finishes, including a fourth-place finish at the conference meet. She placed 44th at the state meet, helping Ankeny to a 14th-place finish. She led the team with a 12:46 average and was named the squad’s Most Valuable Runner along with Caffrey. In 2002, Copes helped the Hawkettes to the conference title. She then placed 50th at the state meet in a time of 15:40 as Ankeny earned a seventh-place finish. As a senior, she was the team’s top finisher at the first seven meets and was named the Hawkettes’ Most Valuable Runner. She placed 41st at the state meet, helping Ankeny to an eighth-place finish. Copes earned academic all-state honors. “Bryna was a perfect blend of hard work and dedication while still being able to have fun and enjoy the moment,” Doocy said. “I only wish that every team that I coached over the years had a Bryna on it. She was just a pleasure to be around as all her coaches and teammates would agree.”
Katie Jensen. She was a three-time state qualifier at Centennial who joined Vortherms as one of the leaders on this year’s team that brought home a trophy from the state meet in Fort Dodge. “My favorite memories in cross country were our random talks on runs, meeting some of my best friends, our great team traditions, and our post-race Hickory Park ice cream stops,” Jensen said. She didn’t crack the varsity lineup until midway through her sophomore season in 2018, but she eventually placed 96th at the state meet while helping the Jaguars to a 15th-place finish. As a junior, she placed 11th at the conference meet and then followed with an 11th-place finish at the regional meet, allowing her to qualify for state as an individual. She went on to place 74th in Class 4A. In 2020, Jensen was one of Centennial’s most consistent runners. She took third at the conference meet in 19 minutes 26 seconds, helping her team to the title. Later, she nearly matched that time at the state meet, where she placed 22nd in 19:28 while helping the Jaguars to their third-place finish. “Katie is one of the greatest examples of an athlete who just kept getting better, which she did all the way to the very end when she (nearly) ran a lifetime best at state her senior year,” Cogdill said. “She, too, came to us without having done middle school cross country. Katie started her career out by modestly running 24-plus minutes, yet by the end of her first season, she made it down to 20:35. In any other year, she would have ran state but that year she was a couple spots away from making our varsity team which prevented her from being a four-timer. Some of the keys to Katie’s successes come from her humble approach, positive outlook, and never once having a gap in training from injury.”
Bryony Jones. She was a four-time state qualifier who earned a trio of top-40 finishes in 1996-98. As a freshman in 1995, she earned a spot in the varsity lineup and helped Ankeny to a 13th-place finish in its first state-meet appearance under Doocy. In 1996, she placed second on the team with a 12:40 average. She took seventh at the district meet to lead the Hawkettes to the team title. She then placed 31st at the state meet in 12:24, helping Ankeny to a ninth-place finish. In 1997, she led the squad with a 12:31 average. She set a personal record of 11:55 while winning the junior race at the Ankeny Invitational. Jones placed fourth at the conference meet and second at the district meet before finishing 39th at the state meet, where she led the Hawkettes to a 16th-place finish. As a senior, she took third at the Newton Invitational as Ankeny won the team title. She placed fifth or higher at eight different meets, including a fifth-place finish at the conference meet to earn all-league honors for the third time. She qualified for the state meet as an individual and placed 36th in a time of 12:25. She led the team with a 12:34 average and was named the Hawkettes’ Most Valuable Runner for the second straight year. Doocy said he would put Jones at the top of the list of runners he coached that he knew would succeed beyond high school. “She had an inner drive that was indescribable and was an awesome leader,” he said.
Alex Nissen-Pickard. She was a four-time state qualifier who was one of Ankeny’s top runners from 2008-11. As a freshman, she was the team’s top finisher at five of the nine meets and led the squad with a 15:57 average. She placed 38th at the state meet in a time of 15:33, helping the Hawkettes to a ninth-place finish. In 2009, she placed 53rd at the state meet as Ankeny again earned a ninth-place finish. As a junior, she helped the Hawkettes to team titles at the Southeast Polk and Valley meets. Nissen-Pickard later placed 45th at the state meet, helping Ankeny to a 12th-place finish. In 2011, she overcame an ankle injury to place 77th at the state meet. The Hawkettes finished 14th as a team. “Alex is one of those runners that I felt had what it would take to be a good coach,” Doocy said. “Fortunately, she is now coaching at the high school level. I only hope that she can instill the ability to have the big race when it’s needed like she always did. She brought so much to our teams.”
Jeanne Peters. She was a three-time state qualifier at Centennial who enjoyed a tremendous season as a freshman in 2016, when she helped the Jaguars to five titles, including the conference crown. She placed fifth at the conference meet and sixth at the regional meet before finishing 29th at the state meet, where she posted a time of 19 minutes 27 seconds while leading Centennial to an eighth-place finish. In 2017, Peters was the team’s top finisher at five of the nine meets. She again placed sixth at the regional meet before finishing 32nd in 19:31 at the state meet, where she helped the Jaguars to a 13th-place finish. As a junior, Peters placed sixth at the Indianola Invitational to help Centennial to the team title. She later took seventh at the regional meet before finishing 71st at the state meet, helping the Jaguars to a 15th-place finish. Her high school career came to an end at the regional meet in 2019, but she is now a member of the cross country team at NCAA Division II Gannon University in Erie, Pa. “Jeanne was tremendous in the classroom, musically talented, a strong swimmer, a terrific runner, and overflowing with leadership abilities,” Cogdill said. “All of those came crashing together when it came time for Jeanne to assemble her schedule while prioritizing her goals. She has always shared her plans of going into biomedical engineering so that she can design and improve adaptive sports equipment for athletes with disabilities, and many decisions she made in school kept that career goal in focus. Having background knowledge of everything that went into her decisions, I know our team was fortunate to find its way onto that busy schedule. Jeanne is a natural-born leader through and through, one who advocates for others, and wants the best for everyone. We had Jeanne serve on our leadership committee three times, and one role she took on was bringing feedback from athletes to the coaches and shouldering the hard discussions as the intermediary to ensure our team culture was thriving and no one felt unheard. In terms of running, Jeanne was another who ran her absolute best on the biggest stage when cold temps and crisp air arrived.”
Emily Roberts. She was a three-time state track champion who also excelled in cross country, earning four straight trips to the state meet from 2006-09. As a freshman, she was the team’s top finisher at all nine meets and led the squad with a 16:10 average. She placed 60th at the state meet, leading Ankeny to a 14th-place finish. As a sophomore, she was the team’s top finisher at every meet and had six top-10 finishes. She placed 50th at the state meet after qualifying as an individual. She led the squad with a 16:05 average, which ranked third all-time in school history at that point. In 2008, Roberts was the team’s top finisher at four meets and was named the Hawkettes’ Most Valuable Runner for the third consecutive year. She helped Ankeny to the Newton Invitational title and later placed 37th at the state meet in 15:31, leading the Hawkettes to a ninth-place finish. As a senior, she placed 50th at state as Ankeny again earned a ninth-place finish. “She was a very talented track athlete that joined the cross country team knowing that it could only improve her track talents,” Doocy said. “Emily was a very good cross country runner that grew so much as a leader, person and talent. She ran track at (Northern Iowa) and is now a successful high school track coach.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Ankeny Fanatic teams were selected by publisher Dan Holm, who consulted with former and current coaches before making his picks.)