The Ankeny and Ankeny Centennial girls’ cross country teams have had some close battles all season.
The two squads had another one on Friday in the Class 4A state meet at Lakeside Golf Course in Fort Dodge.
Eighth-ranked Ankeny placed seventh in the 15-team field for the second straight year, finishing with 186 points. No. 5 Centennial took ninth with 197.
“I think my team did well,” said Ankeny junior Drew Beason. “We all worked so hard this season, and it definitely paid off. I’m glad to see we pushed ourselves as hard as we did. Centennial raced really well, too. They’ve always been good competitors with us, and I’m proud of them and their season!”
Centennial coach Eric Cogdill said the meet wrapped up another successful season for the Jaguars.
“We saw multiple school records fall, and (we won) a third consecutive state qualifying meet title,” said Cogdill. “It was our 10th trip to state in our 11 years as Centennial–with only Johnston and Dowling Catholic qualifying more during that stretch. Those two have won 12 of the past 17 state championships, underscoring how close we are to breaking into the upper echelon of cross country programs across the state. This was also our seventh top-10 finish–which was our original ‘big scary goal’–and it is now a benchmark we have met or exceeded four years in a row. Only four schools have more top-10 finishes.”
No. 1 Johnston captured the Class 4A crown with 107 points. No. 6 Valley was second with 122, followed by No. 3 Dallas Center-Grimes with 126.
Valley’s third-ranked Addison Dorenkamp raced to the individual title for the second time in three years. She posted a time of 17:41 in the 5k race, finishing about 9 seconds ahead of No. 1 Olivia Verde of Johnston.
Beason, who is ranked fourth, became a state placewinner for the third straight year. She placed fifth in 18:07.
“The race went almost exactly how I thought it would,” said Beason, who was 11th as a freshman in 2021 and 15th last year. “I was really happy with how I finished. My goal all season was top five!”
Centennial’s fifth-ranked Anika Mohrahauser also earned a spot on the awards podium. The junior finished ninth in 18:18.
“Anika was amazing,” Cogdill said. “She found her target race group from the beginning, executed her race plan incredibly well, and hit her huge goal of securing a top-10 finish. The growth she has made since eighth grade is the stuff movies are made of. She was the 11th-fastest eighth grader on her middle school team, then the 10th-fastest freshman in all of class 4A, and now she is the 10th-fastest female in the entire state. She would have won 1A and 3A with her time.”
Mohrhauser had placed 16th as a sophomore, just missing the awards podium.
“You never know how the state meet is going to unfold, and that is what is so exciting about it!” said Mohrhauser. “Cog and I had a plan for me to stay in the back of the big chase group until it started to break apart, then after that just run my race. I was happy with how my race went and to receive a medal this year. It has been a fun year of good competition and seeing the team’s growth!”
Sophia Graber placed 38th for the Hawkettes in 19:13. She finished just ahead of Centennial’s Bella Hodges, who took 39th in 19:14.
Ankeny’s Ainsley Kiene placed 42nd in 19:17, while Makenna Madetzke was 49th in 19:25. Lauren Jackson placed 74th in 19:51, Gwen Briggs was 86th in 20:03, and Raegan Prendergast finished 116th in 20:34.
“The girls ran phenomenal–most were right at or had a PR so it was a great day,” said Ankeny coach Quinn Groff. “I’m very proud of each one of these talented women. They have progressed so much all year, and we accomplished all our goals. I can’t say enough about the grit and strength these ladies have. All year they have stayed locked in and had fun. Like I have said all year, they are enjoying the season and having fun all the time.
“Overall, it was a heck of a year–we had such a fun group of girls to be around. Congrats to Johnston, Valley and DC-G on incredible seasons. They always pushed us, have phenomenal coaches, and are very deserving of their accomplishments!” he added.
Cora DenHartog placed 45th for the Jaguars in 19:22. Ellie Blevins took 59th in 19:40, Haley Hveem was 69th in 19:48, Julia Flick placed 76th in 19:52, and Kyra Zinn finished 85th in 20:01.
Cogdill said his team was aiming for a top-five finish.
“With all our successes, we had hoped for a little more from our result,” he said. “The girls had a great week of practice, a great mindset going into the meet with smart expectations and a game plan to obtain it. They got off to an outstanding start, too. And then, there was a late recall. Sometimes a recall is just what you need to make corrections or shake the nerves, and sometimes it is just what the opposition needs. Our opponents found the benefit and coming off the restart, our girls found themselves deeper among the field than they initially were and it takes a lot of effort and a long time at the crowded state meet to find space to move up. We were in 13th place at the mile.
“Despite the long odds against us, the girls nearly battled all the way back and were just 15 points short of their top-five goal at the end. I’m very proud of how they battled through adversity and kept working hard to gain ground,” he said.