MT. PLEASANT — There were two high school races at the Southeast Conference meet on Thursday night, and the results of the two couldn’t have been anymore different. The girls race was a sure thing for hosting Mt. Pleasant, who won the SEC title by over 40 points. The boys race was a three-team nail-biter that saw Ft. Madison sneak away with a one-point victory.
There was little doubt coming in who would win the girls race. Barring complete disaster, Mt. Pleasant had the horses to run away from the rest of the field with ease. Abby Ryon closed out her senior year on top, winning the title by almost a minute. She finished in 19:54.02, the only runner under 20 minutes, and led her team to an 18-point performance.
“It feels great,” Ryon said. “I got to run with my teammate. I had a great time, beautiful record, great crowd. Just a great way to start to close off my senior season.”
That teammate Ryon mentioned was Abby Blint, who ran behind Ryon for the first lap around, pacing herself for a personal record. She finished in second place, nearly 45 seconds ahead of third.
“I definitely felt fast,” Blint said. “I had an amazing teammate leading me through there, and stayed with her as long as I could. That was really nice because it led me to a P.R.”
If it weren’t for Ft. Madison’s Katelyn Dennis, who finished third, the Panthers could have had a sweep. Mt. Pleasant’s Cristina Carthey came in fourth, followed by teammates Monroe Swain, Kendall Dascher and Maggie Jennings for six Panthers in the top seven. Belle Meador’s ninth-place finish gave Mt. Pleasant seven in the Top 10, showing out at their home course.
“A home meet for conference. I was looking forward to it even when I was a freshman,” recalled Ryon. “I was planning it out, and I was like, ‘Oh! We’re going to be home for conference my senior year!’ It was everything I wanted it to be and more.”
The Bloodhounds took second place with 60 points. Washington nipped Fairfield 84-88 for third.
The top Demons were Hannah Rees and Grace Voss, who finished 14th and 15th respectively. Abby Voss took 18th. Cloe Telleen was 25th, and Victoria Hinson took 27th to close out the scoring.
Fairfield got a top-10 finish out of Makenzie Kraemer. She paced the Trojans for a time of 22:14.66, the top Union area runner outside of Mt. Pleasant. Amiritha Kumar and Tisha Brinkschroedder were 19th and 20th respectively. Hailey Pohren-Gevock took 23rd, and Mahayla Mellott was the fifth Fairfield scorer, in 31st.
The boys race was yet another three-way punch out between Ft. Madison, Washington and Fairfield. The Bloodhounds escaped with first place, scoring 54 on the day. Washington finished one point off the lead, at 55, and Fairfield was within six, at 60.
The Demons picked up two of the top three places in the boys race. Evan Horak was second, in 17:32.93, and Lance Sobaski was third, in 17:33.75.
“I felt pretty good. The race went on, (Lance) picked me up, and we tagged teamed it all the way through,” said Horak. “We know that every place counts. You just have to get after it, have a positive mind-set going in and you really have to dig deep and push through.”
Horak barely edged Sobaski at the finish. The two were inseparable for a large part of the evening.
“We were just trying to get those two places,” Sobaski said. “We were on it the whole way through, grinding together. We worked the whole season for it.”
Elijah Morris took 14th overall. Justin Simmering placed 18th, and Matt Collett came across in 22nd for the fifth Demon score.
Fairfield came into the race with a chip on its shoulder after seeing No. 3 Kaidyn Mickels go down to injury earlier this season. The Trojans pushed two runners into the top six and three into the top 11.
Alex Forrest led the way for the Trojans with a final time of 17:35.65. He finished less than two seconds behind third-place Sobaski.
“I was just focused on, ‘we’ve got to win this thing,’” Forrest said. “Bryan (Wilkins) is one of our best runners, so we wanted him to go out with a bang.”
Wilkins, Fairfield’s only senior, took sixth place overall with a time of 17:44.05. He said he came into the race knowing it would take everything to beat Ft. Madison and Washington.
“Ft. Madison came out of nowhere this year,” Wilkins said. “They’re got a really good group of young kids.”
Gavin Van Veen finished the race in 11th. Blake Holden took 20th, and Breken Courtright finished 23rd to round out the Trojan top 5.
Mt. Pleasant took fifth out of the six teams present, beating a Keokuk team that couldn’t score due to low numbers. The Panthers put one runner, Logan White, in the Top 10. White finished the race with a final time of 18:07.78 to lead the squad.
The next Panther boy to cross was Nick McCormick, in 16th. Luke Ryon took 19th. Logan Lee was 21st, and Nathan McWilliams finished in 24th.
Listed below are the full team results and top 15 for both the girls and boys races.
GIRLS TEAM RESULTS: 1. Mt. Pleasant, 18; 2. Ft. Madison, 60; 3. Washington, 84; 4. Fairfield, 88; 5. Burlington, 131. No team score: Keokuk
GIRLS TOP 15: 1. Abby Ryon, Mt. Pleasant, 19:54.02; 2. Abby Blint, Mt. Pleasant, 20:48.93; 3. Katelyn Dennis, Ft. Madison, 21:33.52; 4. Cristina Carthye, Mt. Pleasant, 21:43.17; 5. Monroe Swain, Mt. Pleasant, 21:44.62; 6. Kendall Dascher, Mt. Pleasant, 21:59.12; 7. Maggie Jennings, Mt. Pleasant, 22:00.31; 8. Maddy McVey, Ft. Madison, 22:02.59; 9. Belle Meador, Mt. Pleasant, 22:12.37; 10. Makenzie Kraemer, Fairfield, 22:14.66; 11. Hannah Sanderson, Keokuk, 22:22.20; 12. Aurora Vansickle, Mt. Pleasant, 22:35.59; 14. Hannah Rees, Washington, 22:42.46; 15. Grace Voss, Washington, 22:54.37.
BOYS TEAM RESULTS: 1. Ft. Madison 54; 2. Washington 55; 3. Fairfield 60; 4. Burlington 73; 5. Mt. Pleasant 85. No team score: Keokuk.
BOYS TOP 15: 1. Conor Stringer, Burlington, 17:16.52; 2. Evan Horak, Washington, 17:32.93; 3. Lance Sobaski, Washington, 17:33.75; 4. Alex Forrest, Fairfield, 17:35.65; 5. Tim Burns, Keokuk, 17:39.46; 6. Bryan Wilkins, Fairfield, 17:44.05; 7. Anthony Barnes, Ft. Madison, 17:56.24; 8. Evan Walker, Burlington, 17:56.84; 9. Will Gager, Ft. Madison, 18:06.58; 10. Logan White, Mt. Pleasant, 18:07.78; 11. Gavin Van Veen, Fairfield, 18:08.81; 12. Hayden Wolfe, Ft. Madison, 18:25.84; 13. Elijah Morris, Washington, 18:30.28; 14. Tate Settles, Ft. Madison, 18:34.34; 15. Will Neises, Burlington, 18:38.24.