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Cross Country

Reprinted with permission from
The Fairfield Ledger


By CHAD DRURY
Ledger Sports Editor

 OTTUMWA - For the first time in a few years, Southeast Iowa will be pretty balanced when the state cross country meet takes place October 27 in Fort Dodge.

 No area Class 1A teams qualified for state at the district at Wildwood Park Thursday at Ottumwa, but Pekin's Jared Burns, Van Buren's Will Steingreaber and Maharishi School's Mani Mullenneaux will all see their seasons extended a week.

 Burns pulled the surprise finish, besting peer and conference competitor Steingreaber with his third place running of 17 minutes, 26seconds. Burns will be making his first appearance at state in only his second year running for the Panthers. Steingreaber will make his third
appearance as he finished fifth in 17:43. Mullenneaux becomes the first Pioneer since Kevin Incorvia in 1999 to run at state. Mullenneaux held off a charge from Iowa Mennonite's Brandon Hochstetler to take sixth (17:52). Lamoni's Mark Boswell won the meet in 16:50.

"I just went out and tried to stay focused," Burns said. "I wanted a top five here, and I've paced myself off Will all season. He's been a role model for me. It's pretty amazing I've done this in only my second year on the team."

Steingreaber, who finished a disappointing eighth at districts a year ago, made sure he was going to get to state in his senior season. The results of preparing for the season differently reaped rewards.

"I didn't peak too early this season, and I've accomplished one of my goals," said Steingreaber, who will look to better his third-place finish at state two years ago. "I thought I could have run a little better, and I wanted to place higher to help in a team score. But I'm really proud of Mani and Jared today. They've worked hard all season. They'll make a name for this area at state."

Mullenneaux was one of the surprises of the meet, but he knew when to begin running his best race.

"The first couple miles I ran at a steady pace," Mullenneaux said. "I was just waiting for the end. I knew the IMS kid from past meet. I feel excellent, and it's going to be fun running with the same guys at state.  That's how I measure my progress."

Boswell led the meet wire-to-wire. Collins-Maxwell-Baxter's Bryce Oswalt finished second, 18 seconds behind the leader. Collins-Maxwell-Baxter took two of the top five spots as Cody McQuiston finished fourth. Steingreaber and Burns were neck-in-neck for third and fourth more than two miles into the race, while Mullenneaux was on the outside looking in. With about half a mile to go, Burns had taken command of third, while both Steingreaber and Mullenneaux were punching their tickets to state. When the dust settled, Mullenneaux held off Hochstetler, the seventh and final individual qualifier.

"Jared was ready to go this year," said Pekin coach Davis Eidahl. "He kind of folded last year, so he prepared himself for the meet this year. Being on this course gave him confidence. All of our boys ran well, it's pretty unbelievable and very satisfying. Fourth place says something for this team."

Iowa Mennonite won the team scoring battle with 58 points. Collins-Maxwell-Baxter was second with 81, while Mount Ayr captured the final team qualifier spot with 100 points. Pekin finished fourth with 158, while the Pioneers were fifth with 161. Van Buren was sixth with 162 points.

Individually, the three area qualifiers have been competitive with each other all season. They know what to expect of each other, but only Steingreaber has the state meet experience. The senior finished 29th as a freshman and third as a sophomore.

"Standing on that top 10 podium at state is the best feeling,"  Steingreaber said. "My goal all along was to get back there and run with the best. This season has turned out a lot better than last year.  "I know Mani and Jared will do well," Steingreaber said. "They're both enthusiastic, and they've improved each meet."

The Maharishi School received a pair of top 20 performances from Kevin Craig and Jon Jarvis and Noah Loin was 50th. Pekin's Ryan Johnston took 25th and Eugene Gusva was 30th. Mark Johll finished 36th for the Panthers. Brad Hanus was 27th for Van Buren, while Corey Cook took 48th. Ty Bartholomew was 53rd for the Warriors.

Team scoring
(top three qualify for state)
 1. Iowa Mennonite, 58; 2. Collins-Maxwell-Baxter, 81; 3. Mount Ayr,
100; 4. Pekin, 158; 5. Maharishi School, 161; 6. Van Buren, 162; 7. East
Union, 197; 8. Lamoni, 237; 9. Fort Madison Aquinas, 244; 10. Harmony,
292; 11. Pella Christian, 300; 12. Southeast Warren, 324; 13.
Martendale-St. Mary's, 367; 14. Cardinal, 416; 15. Interstate 35, 448.
Central Decatur, Danville, Earlham, Iowa Christian Academy,
Lineville-Clio, Lynnville-Sully, North Mahaska, Sigourney, Tri-County,
Twin Cedars and Wayne didn't have enough runners for a team score.

Individual qualifiers
(top seven qualify for state meet)
 1. Mark Boswell (Lam.), 16:50; 2. Bryce Oswalt (CMB), 17:08; 3. Jared
Burns (Pek.), 17:26; 4. Cody McQuiston (CMB), 17:31; 5. Will
Steingreaber (VB), 17:43; 6. Mani Mullenneaux (MSAE), 17:52; 7. Brandon
Hochstetler (IMS), 17:56.

Area placewinners
 Pekin - 3. Burns, 17:26; 25. Ryan Johnston, 18:50; 30. Eugene Gusva,
19:08; 36. Mark Johll, 19:17; 64. David Lankford, 20:31; 78. Ashley
Mortenson, 21:06; 80. Eric Willhoit, 21:12.
 Van Buren - 5. Steingreaber, 17:43; 27. Brad Hanus, 19:02; 48. Corey
Cook, 19:59; 53. Ty Bartholomew, 20:09; 57. Wes Atwood, 20:17; 65.
Stephen Pedrick, 20:31.
 Maharishi School - 6. Mullenneaux, 17:52; 16. Kevin Craig, 18:34; 20.
Jon Jarvis, 18:44; 50. Noah Loin, 20:06; 69. Christian Smith, 20:45.
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