WAPELLO — After getting used to the comfortable temperatures of the first two-plus weeks of the season, the weather continued to heat up Tuesday for the cross country runners at the Louisa-Muscatine Invitational.
The heat and humidity that lingered throughout the evening didn't provide the ideal conditions for the runners completing the course at the Langwood Education Center.
“It was a big factor. I was sweating before we were running the race,” L-M senior Ben Chapman said. “I had people come up and ask if I ran the junior high race because I was sweating so much. It’s something you got to put to the back of your mind and just focus on your race.”
The Falcon boys, led by Chapman’s winning effort, did just that.
L-M totaled 33 points to capture their third straight home meet title, while Wilton — the only team with enough runners to score as a team — captured the girls team title with 20 points.
Chapman won the boys race in 18 minutes, 56 seconds, while Jon Van Sickle finished third in 19:48 and Davis Hunt was fifth in 20:23 to pace the Falcons effort.
“It’s really nice to come out here and win the meet as a team again,” Chapman said. “… It’s just nice to have this be my last home meet and have it go really well for us.”
Coaches told their runners to conserve energy with the humid weather on tap Tuesday, and Simmons felt his team, which also included a ninth-place finish from Brandon Wilson, did exactly that.
“I did tell them to try to save their energy and get out fast enough to get out in front of the people they needed to but not to push it too hard the first mile,” first-year L-M coach Calvin Simmons said. “I think they did a great job. Their places show that. Their efforts showed that. They were very smart in the race today.”
Wilton finished third in the boys race with 60 points, led by Will Ball’s second-place finish in 19:04. The lone senior on a team with 12 sophomores and one freshman, Ball bounced right back up where he left off.
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“Will did amazing. Every year, he’s just picked it up a little bit,” Wilton coach David Cook said.
The Beaver girls may have been the only full team competing, but they earned their victory. Junior Kaylee Ford won the girls race in 22:01 and teammate Hannah Christensen finished second in 23:51.
Ford easily outdistanced the pack despite the weather to earn her first high school race title. Her experience running longer road races, including the Bix 7, helped her in her first high-school 5-kilometer race.
“I knew it was going to be tougher, but I just knew that I could do it,” Ford said. “After the Bix, I knew that I definitely could.”
The L-M girls are low on numbers this season, with just two runners — Allison Steahr and Haily McClanahan — out. Steahr was the only Falcon running Tuesday, and she finished her final home meet third in 24:02.
“It’s really nice to come out and represent because I’m the only girl that’s been running,” Steahr said.
She added, “I did pretty good. Since the course has changed from [what] last year’s course has been, it was a little bit weird not doing the old course.”
West Liberty finished fourth in the boys team race with 65 points, led by Marco Tena’s sixth-place finish in 20:25 and Juan Malagon’s seventh-place finish in 20:28.
The girls had just two runners compete due to injuries, with Jessica Crook finishing fifth in in 25:08 and Nixsia Mechor eighth in 28:59.
“Overall, boys and girls did very well,” West Liberty coach Mike Czarnecki said. “We had a really hard practice [Monday], so I was surprised to see them do as well as they did. Battled the heat, battled the hills and, so far, pulled off the … best times each of them had this year so far.”