Panther cross country hosts invitational

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Ella Waddle leads the Panorama girls in the opening moments of a recent meet. The Panthers are returning to the state meet this year, with Waddle and Olivia Steffen both advancing as individuals Photo courtesy Greg Thompson.

PANORA — The Lake Panorama Par 3 Golf Course was the site of Thursday’s Panther Cross Country Invitational, with a full field of teams taking advantage of the pleasant weather to add another meet to their respective resumes.

The Panorama girls won their side of the varsity meet with 59 points as the Class 2A seventh-ranked Panthers easily out-distanced 1A 10th-ranked AC/GC (95) and 1A No. 1 Van Meter (100), who placed second and third, respectively,. A total of 17 teams scored, with seven other schools having less than five runners in action and thus not generating a team score.

Defending 1A champion and top-ranked Madrid edged 1A No. 2 Earlham in a thrilling battle, winning the boys team title, 60-67, with 2A No. 8 Des Moines Christian third at 87. Fifteen teams scored, with two other schools — including Panorama — also in action.

The girls individual title went the Van Meter sophomore Claire Kelly, who finished in 20 minutes, 34 seconds. Panorama senior Ella Waddle was second in 20:54, with Clarinda sophomore Mayson Hartley close behind, at 20:58.

Senior twins Gwen (21:29) and Olivia (21:27) Steffen were seventh and 10th, respectively, for the hosts, with Payton Beckman 11th at 21:51 and Mia Waddle 29th in 23:37. Abby Cobb (56th, 25:03) and Leah Fett (64th, 25:34) also ran for the varsity.

“The high school girls finished off the night for us with their best race of the season,” Panorama head coach Greg Thompson said. “I challenged them to show what they were capable of doing; they did just that. I know they will continue to work hard to continue to improve; they know this season could end at the state meet with a very good showing.”

Avery Bahrenfuss (26:28) and Deana Solorzano (27:01) ran in the girls junior varsity race, placing fifth and 10th, respectively.

Mary Fett (28, 17:12), Maggie McCarthy (31st, 17:33), and Ella Carico (50th, 20:02) competed in the two-mile middle school race for the Panther girls.

“The junior high girls got the night started off in a great way,” Thompson noted. “This was their first race of the season after only nine practices on the toughest course they will see all season. When looking at just the seventh graders, we would have been 12th, 13th, and 23rd.”

Madrid’s Jason Renze (16:40) and Clay Pehl (16:41) were 1-2 in the boys race, with Tri-Center’s Brett McGee third in 16:50.

The Panther boys do not have a junior varsity or middle school unit, with three Panthers running for the varsity, as Avery Norman (21;18), Ryan McCarthy (23:26) and Paul Hansen (23:35) made the circuit for the hosts.

“The high school boys kept it (the positive atmosphere) going as all three boys that finished the race ran season-best times, and Paul and Ryan ran life-time best times,” Thompson said. “They were aggressive and ran hard; I hope they realize that kind of effort is rewarded.”

“Our next race is scheduled to be at Roland-Story Thursday; this is a new meet for us,” he concluded. “We have heard the course is flat and fast, so I am anxious to see how many more personal-bests will be set if they give the same kind of effort as they did during this race.”

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