AMES – Strong pack running helped the Nevada boys’ cross country team edge Saydel for third place, and the Cub girls also ran well as a group to earn a fourth-place finish at the Heart of Iowa Conference meet Monday at the Iowa State cross country course.

Competing on a cool and windy day, all five scored runners for Nevada placed in the top 26 individually. The Cubs had a solid 40-second gap between their second and fifth runners, scoring 87 points to edge Saydel by two points for third out of nine scored teams in the boys’ race.

Gilbert – the No. 3 team in Class 2A according to the Iowa Association of Track Coaches – won the boys’ team title with 35 points. The Tigers beat No. 2 North Polk as the Comets scored 53 points.

"I like where we are right now," Nevada junior Zach Hansen said. "I think we can still get a little stronger and get up there with Gilbert and North Polk. But I think our team is doing great."

Hansen was one of three Cub runners to place in the top 20 individually. He completed the boys’ 5-kilometer course in 18 minutes, 52.29 seconds to place 16th, just ahead of teammate Evan Rix, who came in 17th at 18:55.94.

"I was just trying to stay with Evan," Hansen said. "That was my main goal and then I passed him in the end."

Lucas Markey ran the fastest time for Nevada. The lead Cub runner all season; Markey crossed the finish line in 18:31.51 to place 11th and earn all-HOIC honors.

Freshman Connor MacVey just missed a top-20 time for Nevada as he took 21st in 19:18.72. Josef Lovin was the final scored Cub runner as he clocked in at 19:32.49 to place 26th.

Gilbert’s Thomas Pollard was the individual boys’ champion with a time of 15:52.13. Another Tiger runner – Wesley Greder – took second in 16:37.82 and North Polk’s Peter Smith came in third with a 16:59.01 showing.

Nevada also produced three top-20 performances in the girls’ competition. The Cub girls scored 116 points to edge North Polk (120) for third out of 10 scored teams.

Caitlin Dewell, Emily Dittmer and Elli Cassabaum were the three Nevada girls to garner a spot in the top 20.

Dewell ran the fastest 4-kilometer time for the Cub girls as she clocked in at 16:30.58 to place seventh and join Markey as an all-conference performer. Dittmer placed 14th by finishing under 17 minutes, which came much to her surprise.

"At the beginning of the day I was really tired so I wasn’t sure if I was going to do very well," Dittmer said. "But I got my second-best time."

Dittmer’s 16:59.09 showing came despite the fact that she almost lost a shoe.

"Toward the last mile my shoe came undone, so I had to run with that," Dittmer said. "But it turned out well."

The talented sophomore said her teammates helped push her through to a strong time.

"You want to find your teammates and just stay with them," Dittmer said. "That helps a lot. I stayed with Elli and then tried to get up with Caitlin."

Cassabaum ran one of her best races of the year in taking 17th with a time of 17:15.17. Nicole Dewell took 30th in 17:40.84 and Caroline Goecke was 48th at 18:47.06 as the final scored Cub runners.

Gilbert’s Grace Gibbons easily won the girls’ individual championship. The top-ranked runner in 2A, Gibbons clocked in at 14:17.95 to beat teammate Carly Rahn by 1:34.04 for first.

Gilbert also won the girls’ team championship in a romp. The No. 5 team in 2A scored an impressive 24 points and South Hamilton was a distant second with 109 points.

Final team scores

Girls: 1. Gilbert 24 points, 2. South Hamilton 109, 3. Greene County 111, 4. Nevada 116, 5. North Polk 120, 6. Roland-Story 151, 7. Colfax-Mingo, 185, 8. CMB 186, 9. PCM 209, 10. Saydel 220.

Boys: 1. Gilbert 35, 2. North Polk 53, 3. Nevada 87, 4. Saydel 89, 5. CMB 145, 6. Roland-Story 149, 7. South Hamilton 197, 8. Greene County 200, 9. Colfax-Mingo 275.

Individual results – Nevada

Girls (4-kilometer): 7. Caitlin Dewell, 16:30.58; 14. Emily Dittmer, 16:59.09; 17. Elli Cassabaum, 17:15.17; 30. Nicole Dewell, 17:40.84; 48. Caroline Goecke, 18:47.06; 57. Emily Haywood, 19:16.39; 60. Erin Sellberg, 19:24.36.

Boys (5-kilometer): 11. Lucas Markey, 18:31.51; 16. Zach Hansen, 18:52.29; 17. Evan Rix, 18:55.94; 21. Connor MacVey, 19:18.72; 26. Josef Lovin, 19:32.49; 32. Duncan Westphal, 19:45.82; 34. Johordan Ritter, 19:52.97.