Nevada's Freeman qualifies for state: Cub junior places

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune
Owen Freeman

The Nevada boys' cross country team will be sending a runner to state after turning in a seventh-place showing at the Class 3A state qualifying meet in Pella Oct. 20

Owen Freeman is headed to Fort Dodge this Saturday after placing 13th for the Cub boys at the qualifying meet. The top 15 runners in 3A advance to the state meet.

The Cub girls placed 12th with 351 points. Ninth-ranked Ballard won the girls' race with 61 points, sixth-ranked Gilbert placed second with 77 and eighth-rated Carlisle came in third as the final team to qualify for state with 79.

Colo-NESCO ran at the 1A qualifying meet in Pekin Oct. 21. The Royal girls finished eighth out of 10 scored teams and the boys 13th out of 15 with respective scores of 233 and 304.

Earlham and Pella Christian, ranked second and 14th, were the two boys' teams to qualify for state from Pekin with respective scores of 53 and 59. In the girls' race 11th-ranked Earlham won with 57 points and third-ranked Pekin also qualified with a score of 61.

Here is what we learned from Nevada and Colo-NESCO's performances at their qualifying meets:

Freeman delivers

Since his freshman season Freeman had steadily risen to become the top runner for the Cub boys. Nevada has improved as a team right along with him, so it was only fitting for Freeman to become a state qualifier for the Cubs.

"I'm thrilled with Owen's progress late in this season," Nevada head boys' cross country coach James Mills said. "At these last two meets ( the HOIC meet and qualifying meets) Owen put himself in a competitive position early in the race and was able to finish with a kick needed to secure his position."

Freeman crossed the finish line at Pella with a 5-kilometer time of 17:28.62. He just edged out the final two qualifiers — Carlisle's Brayden Kessler (17:29.05) and Fairfield's Gavin Van Veen (17:29.78).

Newton's Jackson Mace-Maynard, ranked eighth in 3A, was the boys' individual champion with a time of 16:21.34.

Cub boys hang tough

The Nevada boys held their own against some of the best competition in 3A.

The Cubs scored 170 points. Five of the six teams to finish ahead of the them were ranked.

That bodes well for the future. 

"We knew the competition going in was going to be stiff, but we want to be counted among top teams," Mills said. "We return the whole varsity team year.  They are determined — they are continuing to practice with Owen until the state meet. Every team member is eager to grow and compete for a team qualification to the state meet next season."

Rhett Harter came in 32nd at 18:08.23, Brian Rohde 40th in 18:26.22, Carter Holland 42nd in 18:31.03 and Rowan Steele 43rd in 18:36.82 as the other runners to score for the Nevada boys.

Sixth-ranked Pella won the boy's competition with 57 points, 12th-ranked Carlisle was second with 85 and 15th-ranked Newton placed third with 90 as the three qualifying boys' teams from the meet. Gilbert, ranked 14th, finished fourth with 128 points, Grinnell came in fifth with 146 and No. 19 Clear Creek-Amana took sixth with 149.

Cub girls gain valuable experience

With 2020 state qualifier Tori Meinecke recovering from an ACL injury the 2021 season was a rebuilding year for the Nevada girls.

Freshmen Aubrey Thompson and Ava Vanderheyden were the top runners for the Cub girls at the qualifying meet. Thompson finished 62nd with a 5k time of 23:37.67 and Vanderheyden was 68th in 23:59.09.

Senior Tessa Borwick was third on the team and 69th overall with a 24:03.52 showing. Another freshman, Avery Anderson, placed 73rd in 24:39.93 and senior Savannah Skaggs was the final Cub runner to score with a 79th-place time of 25:54.99.

Ballard's Paityn Noe, the top-ranked runner in 3A, outclassed the rest of the field at Pella with a winning time of 18:28.91.

Colo-NESCO builds for future

The Colo-NESCO teams both had two runners place in the top 50 at Pekin.

Gemma Bower

Gemma Bower and Callie Kohlwes finished 48th and 49th in the girls' race with respective times of 25 minutes flat and 25:04. Hannah Jamison was 56th in 25:34, Katie Spalding 64th in 26:22 and Sarah Brinkman 65th in 26:25 to close out the scoring for the Royal girls.

Caleb Robers and Alex Rouse finished 45th and 46th for the Colo-NESCO boys with respective times of 20:14 and 20:29. Ben Rouse was 70th in 21:59, Drew Banks 72nd in 22 minutes flat and Bradley Thomas 78th in 22:24.

Earlham's Olivia Spurling won the girls' race in 20:43 and Twin Cedars' Rylee Dunkin, rated seventh, placed second in 20:52. Earlham's Jayden Dickson and Dominic Braet, ranked second and third individually in 1A, were first and second in the boys' race at Pekin with times of 16:55 and 17:09.