The BCLUW boys' cross country team had qualified for the state meet as a team in each of the last six seasons. But without the services of its No. 2 runner, head coach Donna Fiscus knew it would take a valiant effort for her Comets to keep the string alive.
Enter valiant effort.
The Comets dug down deep and pulled out a third-place finish at a Class 1A state qualifier at Marshalltown Community College on Thursday. BCLUW could not hang with No. 4 Denver or even No. 5 Dike-New Hartford, but 95 points was enough to advance for the seventh straight season.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
BCLUW junior Derek Coulter, center, qualified for his third consecutive Iowa High School State Cross Country Championships on Thursday when he finished seventh at the state-qualifying meet at Marshalltown Community College. The Comets also qualified as a team, finishing third in the Class 1A meet.
"It was a very nice surprise," BCLUW coach Donna Fiscus said. "We lost our second runner after Ben Kuhl after the Dike meet and I wasn't sure how that would affect us today. It put a lot of pressure on the other guys, and they stepped up today."
Junior Derek Coulter qualified individually for the second straight season as he crossed the line in seventh place with a time of 17 minutes, 36 seconds. Coulter will now run at state for the third straight season.
"It feels really good," Coulter said. "I was nervous all day, but to be done and know your in feels great."
Team Standings - 1. Denver 43, 2. Dike-New Hartford 72, 3. BCLUW 95, 4. West Fork 120, 5. North Butler 146, 6. Eagle Grove 179, 7. Ogden 210, 8. Belle Plaine 217, 9. HLV 232, 10. Grundy Center 254, 11. Belmond-Klemme 298, 12. Newman Catholic 309, 13. Colo-NESCO 354, 14. BGM 358, 15. Rockford 406.
Top 10 (state qualifiers) - 1. John Crew, DNH, 16:49; 2. Kyle Kehoe, DEN, 16:59; 3. Zach Marne, LM, 17:18; 4. Peyton Twedt, WF, 17:28; 5. Scott Aamodt, LM, 17:35; 6. Rhett Thvs, HLV, 17:36; 7. Derek Coulter, BCLUW, 17:36; 8. Caleb Wedeking, NB, 17:37; 9. Tanner Johnson, DEN, 17:38; 10. Trev Thompson, OGD, 17:52.
BCLUW (95) - 6. Derek Coutler 17:36; 12. Clark Jackley 18:17; 20. Branden Storjohann 18:53; 25. Tanner Teske 19:02; 46. Isaiah Ralston 19:43.
GRUNDY CENTER (254) - 22. Espen Cleveland 18:59; 43. James Chungu 19:39; 71. Samuel McKendree 20:45; 72. Ian Alexia 20:48; 77. Tyler Harken 20:58.
COLO-NESCO (354) - 48. Steven Cutler 19:47; 67. Tait Vaughn 20:33; 79. Josh Morrow 21:02; 95. Kyle Miller 21:51; 113. Zach Brown 23:17.
GMG - 41. Jeff Hughes 19:31; 74. Logan Burt 20:50; 97. Josh Gruen 22:06; 104. Dillon Slingluff 22:31.
GLADBROOK-REINBECK - 37. Tyler Bovy 19:24; 91. Vasya Strohbehn 21:48; 118. Cole Goos 24:40;
NORTH TAMA - 102. Robert Young 22:23.
Coulter said he knew he had a pretty good chance to qualify. And it was Fiscus' hope that all five of her scoring runners would finish in the top 30. When she saw her fifth runner was 46th overall, she began to think her Comets came up short.
"I was scared," Fiscus said. "I thought that we were doomed if we didn't have everyone in the top 30. That is usually how these things play out. This is a Cinderella team though without Ben in the lineup."
Senior Clark Jackley qualified 10th last season to advance as an individual runner. He just missed that distinction this season with a 12th place finish as he crossed the line in 18:17.
Branden Storjohann was 20th overall for the Comets, while Tanner Teske ended up 25th and Isaiah Ralston was the 46th place finisher.
Fourth-ranked Denver finished with 45 points as it had all five scoring runners in the top 15 and three of the top 10 spots as well. No. 5 Dike-New Hartford took the top spot but finished with 72 points. Tenth-ranked BCLUW was 25 points ahead of West Fork in the final team qualifying spot.
Dike New-Hartford's John Crew, ranked No. 12 in Class 1A, won the individual title with a time of 16:49. Eleventh-ranked Kyle Kehoe of Denver was second in 16:59.
Grundy Center was the only other area team to field a full roster Thursday and finished 10th overall with 254 points. The Comets' top runner was junior Espen Cleveland, who finished 22nd with a time of 18:59. Senior foreign exchange student James Chungu was next in 43rd.
Gladbrook-Reinbeck, GMG, and Colo-NESCO all had runners in the field.
The top finisher among those schools was Gladbrook-Reinbeck's Tyler Bovy in 37th. Jeff Hughes of GMG was 41st and Colo-NESCO freshman Steven Cutler was 48th.
BCLUW has finished second and third as a team at the state meet under Fiscus. While she would love that result again, she knows if they don't have Kuhl, it will be tough to expect anything that high.
"We hope to get Ben back," Fiscus said. "If we can pull off what we did tonight, anything is possible. You just don't know what is going to happen, and I will be happy with whatever we get."
The Iowa High School State Cross Country Championships will take place Oct. 27 in Fort Dodge. The Class 1A boys race will begin at 2:30 p.m.