Panorama trio finish strong at state meet

Ella Waddle repeats fifth place performance, with Olivia Steffen, Payton Beckman also running well

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Panorama assistant coaches Sandy Leiferman (left) and Emily Albers stand with state qualifers Ella Waddle, Olivia Steffen and Payton Beckman. Photo submitted.


FORT DODGE — Three harriers from Panorama participated in the Class 2A Girls Cross Country State Meet Saturday, with all three making improvements to personal efforts.

Junior standout Ella Waddle crossed in 19 minutes, 19 seconds to finish fifth overall, securing her third consecutive individual state meet medal. She was fifth last yaer in 19:31.6, and her new personal record for the Kennedy Park course is now the new fastest 5k time ever run by a Panther.

Fellow junior Olivia Steffen was 47th as a sophomore in 21:15.2, but on Saturday turned in a 20:50.4 to cross 39th in her third state meet.

Sophomore Payton Beckman was running in Fort Dodge for the second consecutive year and dropped her time by just over four seconds, finishing 90th overall in 21:50.6.

Mid-Prairie won the meet with a narrow 61-62 edge over Williamsburg, with Monticello third at 130. A total of 138 individuals ran in the race.

Mid-Prairie superstar Marie Hochstetler won the title in 17:58.2, with Springville’s Emily Staal a distant second at 18:39.3. AC/GC senior Kate Crawford capped a stellar career with a third-place finish, in 19:05.9, and Willamsburg’s Grace Schaefer was fourth in 19:11.4, with Waddle following. The top four are all seniors.

“These three girls represented Panorama very well,” head coach Greg Thompson said. “They work extremely hard, and that hard work was rewarded.”

“These three athletes will provide a very strong foundation for next year’s squad,” he added. “Gwen Steffen will also be a vital part of the team next year, but she couldn’t run at the state qualifying meet this season due to injury. She was consistently our number two or three runner this season.”

Thompson was unable to attend the state meet due to a death in his family. He tweeted his gratitude and praise for assistant coaches Sandy Leiferman and Emily Albers for stepping into the lead role in his absence.

“I am so blessed to have two amazing assistant coaches and amazing athletes to work with on a daily basis,” Thompson said on Twitter. “These ladies stepped up! Three state meet best times! I’m almost emotional with my pride!”

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