PANORA — Ranked seventh in Class 1A, the Panorama girls were expected to edge No. 11 AC/GC for team honors at Thursday’s WCAC meet, with the Lake Panorama Par 3 Golf Course serving as hosts only adding to those expectations. What few foresaw was the dominance the Panthers would flash, as eight runners would finish in the top 15 and four in the first seven.
Panorama won with 27 points, with AC/GC second at 46 and Madrid third at 90. Earlham (117), West Central Valley (147), Ogden (152), Woodward-Granger (162) and Van Meter (181) completed the field; Des Moines Christian does not compete in girls cross country.
Panther freshman Ella Waddle, ranked sixth, won the WCAC title in 19 minutes, 41.48 seconds, besting fourth-rated and defending state champion Kate Crawford, an AC/GC sophomore who crossed in 20:09.25. Panorama senior Devyn Kemble (18th at state last season) was third in 20:54.68, with AC/GC senior Emma Swanson (fourth at state in 2016 but unranked due to missing much of this year to injury) fourth in 20:56.65.
Both Waddle (who ran a lifetime best) and Kemble topped Brianna Hoffman’s school record for WCAC on the course, a standard of 21:02 set in 2015. Panorama freshman Gwen Steffen was fifth in 21:26.68, Hoffman, a senior, with seventh in 21:49.38, with freshman Olivia Steffen 11th in 22:52.06. Junior Brooklyn Behrends (13th, 23:05.53) and sophomore Chloe Webster (14th, 23:06.72) completed the varsity dominance, with sophomore Lydia Lindstrom the top JV runner with what would have been a 15th place finish in 23:20.55.
“The girls were very impressive,” Panther head coach Greg Thompson said. “We had eight in the top 15 and that is amazing, especially in the WCAC, which has been represented very well at the state meet the past several years.”
“My pre-race speech to the team was that this was just another training run and that all I expect of them is to perform to the best of their abilities. No matter what happens, we are a team and will support each other. I expected a good performance, but this was above my expectations.”
Bryn Steffen (23:53.71), Jaelyn Waddle (25:06.13), Shey Storesund (25:15.44) and Abby Cobb (25:26.35) were on the course for the Panther girls JV. Also running were Taylor Rishel (25:36.32), Molly Simmons (26:45.91), Emily Smith (26:46.94), Maddie Knapp (28:48.11) and Maisie Knapp (29:23.74).
The Panorama varsity boys were running without senior Danny Nordquist, whose absence, Thompson said “Would have lowered the team point total, but not enough to change our team placing.”
Ninth-ranked Woodward Academy (66), 11th-ranked Madrid (69) and No. 13 AC/GC (71) claimed the top three spots. DMC was fourth at 83, with Ogden (104), Earlham (120), Panorama (183), W-G (223), WCV (266) and Van Meter (267) following.
Madrid’s Sean McDermott, ranked third, won the WCAC title in 17:05.17, with DMC’s Tyler Ketcham the runner-up in 17:19.86.
Panther senior Josh Carstens finished fifth in 17:54.29, besting Chance Webster’s school conference course mark of 18:09, set in 2015.
Sophomore Emry Colby (42nd, 19:51.41), senior Sam Webster (43rd, 19:53.3), junior Noah Kirtley (46th, 19:55.81) and senior Kaleb Randel (47th, 19:58.3) completed the scoring quintet. Junior Levi Richey (50th, 20:09.08) and senior Erik Olsen (55th, 20:41.56) rounded out the varsity seven.
“Josh ran very well,” Thompson said. “Emry, Sam, Noah, Kaleb and Levi ran as a tight pack. They are working hard and should be in a good position next week to challenge for a top five spot. With a great race, they could finish in the top three and qualify for state. That will be the goal for the upcoming week.”
Colton Stogdill (21:55.93), Lucas Wasson (22:43.91), Paul Hansen (24:10.6), Drew Hafner (24:14.39) and Logan Christe (25:39.28) competed for the Panorama JV boys.
Injuries, illness and an honor band performance dropped the Panther middle school girls below the five runners needed to generate a team score, though the three girls in action did produce strong results.
“Payton Beckman (6th, 14:37.34) and Laci Rishel (9th, 14:54.9) had good races,” Thompson said. “Grace Webner (16th, 16:13.43) fell early in the race, but still ran faster than last season.”
Earlham’s 30 points won the girls two-mile race, with Van Meter claiming the boys event with 64 points as Panorama placed fourth at 101.
Kevin Cogil (3rd, 13:38.77), Avery Norman (19th, 15:32.01) and Alec Mills (15:44.24) were the first three Panthers to finish, with Jordan Wehmeyer (26th, 15:45.34) and Ethan Olsen (28th, 16:25.22) in tow.
“Kevin, Alec and Avery ran extremely well compared to last year’s time for this meet,” Thompson said. “Kevin was about three minutes faster, Avery was about two minutes faster and Alec about one minute faster.”
Panorama will visit Mount Ayr Thursday for their state qualifying meet.