FORT DODGE, Iowa — Durant High School girls cross country coach Jim Weisrock said his team didn’t get off to a good start at the state meet last season.

Starting strong was a point of emphasis and although the Wildcats finished with a team score of 259 for 11th at the state meet Saturday at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course, two spots below their 2012 finish, Weisrock felt they improved.

“I think as far as expectations were concerned, it’s always nice to run your best races at the end of the year,” he said. “I think the girls really ran a good race.”

Sophomore Alyssa Williams took a good start to a 15:59.9 time, about six seconds better than her 2012 state time, which was good for 28th place.

“I just knew from the beginning that [starting well] would be the key in doing the best I could,” Williams said.

Added sophomore teammate Cheyanne Heinrich: “She (Williams) did really, really good. She got out fast and stayed up there the whole time. I kind of got boxed in a little bit.”

Heinrich, who led the Wildcats at the River Valley Conference meet and Durant’s state qualifying meet in Ottumwa, placed 43rd in 16:21.7.

Durant’s other finishers included sophomore Janey Botkins (96th, 17:55.8), freshman Madison Howe (99th, 18:02), sophomore Sam Fusco (107th, 18:21.5), sophomore Emily Mundt (113th, 18:40.2) and junior Whitney Ahrens (114th, 18:41.1).

“I was excited last year after the race and I’m even more excited this year,” Weisrock said. “There was just more of a calming influence running this year and with only one freshman running — Maddie Howe, she had a good race too, a really, really good race — we are just building and building and building and hope it continues”.

Pekin won the 1A girls race with 81 points. Griswold junior Rebekah Topham repeated as the 1A champion with a time of 13:56.3.

Wapello’s boys team also placed 11th in its return to class 1A after jumping to 2A for a season following four straight trips to the Class 1A meet.

“It wasn’t our best run, the kids really had a hard time getting out,” Wapello coach Lora Earnest said. “They were blocked in, that’s the biggest complaint they had. I’m proud of them, though. They’re a good bunch of kids, they worked hard all year. No matter how we did, I’m proud of them.”

Senior Colin Poe led Wapello with a 21st-overall finish in 17:18.8 as the Indians totaled a team score of 213.

Poe made a push to pass Wilton’s Adam McNamara at the end and collapsed after crossing the finish line.

“The whole time I was just thinking it was my last race,” Poe said. “I just kind of went as hard as I could. It didn’t turn out as well as I wanted it to, but I’m proud. I’m happy.”

Sophomore teammate Josh Royal finished 30th in his first-ever trip to state, completing Lakeside’s course in 17:26.2.

“I thought that I was really nervous being at state for the first time and everything,” Royal said. “It was the biggest crowd I’ve ever done anything in front of. That really got to me, but once I kind of started out it kind of went away and settled down.”

Other finishers for the Indians were senior Jack Walker (78th, 18:33.8), senior Gage Mesler (83rd, 18:41.7), sophomore Ian Poe (94th, 18:59.6), junior Hunter Walker (97th, 19:03.0) and senior Evan Bartenhagen (101st, 19:19.2).

Denver was 1A’s winning team with 89 points, with senior Kyle Kehoe claiming the individual title in 16:17.4.

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