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For the fifth year in a row North Mahaska will have a representative at the Class 1A state cross country meet. Sophomore Lane Harmon notched his first trip to the meet in Fort Dodge on Saturday, Oct. 31.

Previously, Cheyenne Shaw, who graduated this past spring, made four trips to state. Harmon placed fifth at the district held at Wildwood Park in Ottumwa on Thursday. He finished the 5 kilometer course in a time of 17 minutes 49 seconds. Valley Lutheran’s Isaac Natvig won the meet in 16:55.

As a team North Mahaska placed fourth with 108 points. The top two teams, Pekin 56 and Columbus Community 77, earned team qualifications. North Mahaska girls were not able to field enough runners for a team score.

Harmon’s placing earned him not just the state qualification, but an all-district nod. Anthony Goemaat, a junior, came up short in qualifying for state placing 15th in 19:13. Freshmen Nate Sampson and Brayden Veiseth placed 28th and 30th respectively. Sampson finished in 20:05.7 and Veiseth in 20:07.08. Senior Grant Smith rounded out the scoring for NM placing 37th in 20:36.6. Only the top 10 plus the top two team runners qualified, so Goemaat was close to making the cut as well.

Andy Knockel placed 60th in 22:12 and Garrett Lamb was 66th in 23:15.

“The boys did a fantastic job as a team,” said coach Kipp Schuler. I’m very pleased with their performance. They’re a tough group and like to compete. That’s exactly what they did.

“Our goal as a team going in was to try to upset the rankings a little bit, give it everything, and let the cards fall where they may. We most certainly accomplished that goal and have great momentum moving forward with a young team.”

Harmon said he had set some goals for himself entering Thursday’s race.

“I had a goal of reaching top 20 and running a sub-18 (minutes),” said Harmon in a phone interview Sunday. “I wanted to run in the front pack and stay out front. Our team had a chance, but we just went out to run and see what happens.”

North Mahaska’s girls had four on the course with junior Addie Schilling taking 24th in 25:46. Senior Claira Bacon set a personal course record at Wildwood Park in her final outing as a Warhawk taking 35th in 28:22. Fellow senior Kelsey Comstock placed 46th in 34:02. Sophomore Natalie LaRue started the race but withdrew due to an injury.

“I’m super proud of these girls,” said Schuler. “We didn’t have the best all-around day, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes. They’ve worked super hard the entire year.

“My two Seniors (Claira and Kelsey) have been wonderful examples to upcoming athletes. For Kelsey, this is her first and only year to do cross country. She’s really stuck it out and improved immensely throughout the year. Claira battled it out at this meet and cut her previous course time down by three minutes. As a coach, I couldn’t be happier with that.”

Schuler was proud of how the team competed.

“Addison Schilling also had a great showing,” said Schuler. “This young lady has also been a fantastic example to younger athletes and has really contributed to a team atmosphere this year. She comes with a positive attitude and is always ready and willing to work.

“Unfortunately, Natalie LaRue was unable to finish the race due to an injury that has been creeping around for a week or two. I have to commend her for her willingness to give it a shot though, despite the injury. She’s a tough cookie.”

Harmon will run from box 22 at the state meet with several runners from his district. More than 150 runners will be competing for medals at the state meet on Saturday.

“My buddies Nate Sampson, Anthony Goemaat and Brayden Veiseth are going to run with me this week,” Harmon said about his preparation. “I have been up there so I know a little of what to expect but know I will be nervous.”

Harmon will be joined on the grid with South Iowa Cedar League runners Bryson Grove of English Valleys, James Gruver of Lynnville-Sully, and Mason Moore of Sigourney. The Class 1A race begins at 4 p.m. Saturday at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course.