Cross country

The boys race off the starting line at the Oskaloosa Invitational.

NORWALK — Oskaloosa, Pella and Pella Christian were all in Norwalk on Monday for the Little Hawkeye Conference Meet. Norwalk claimed first place for the boys while Dallas Center-Grimes nabbed first place for the girls.

The Oskaloosa (139 points) boys took fifth while Pella (71 points) took third and Pella Christian (194 points) ended eighth. On the girls side, Oskaloosa (177 points) was sixth and Pella (99 points) was fourth.

“Our team places were improvements from the last two years so I was pleased with that,” Oskaloosa head coach Michael Comfort said. “I was really proud with how we attacked miles two and three and stayed on point mentally. The last 10 days of practice were about improving our mental fitness as much as our physical. We showed a lot of improvement in those phases today. Almost everyone ran their best race and time of the year, some improving by over a minute. I am really proud of our effort.”

The Indians were led by all-conference junior runner Patrick DeRonde, who jumped out with the leading pack early and found himself running one of his best races, being his personal best by 50 seconds with a 16:23 and finishing fifth in a loaded field.

“It was all about the start,” DeRonde said. “We got out fast and when we passed the mile mark at 5:00, I knew it was going to be a good time. The second mile was around 5:20 and I was feeling solid. I battled through third mile and kept moving up. It was so exciting to finally get into the 16’s.”

Following behind DeRonde for Oskaloosa was Caden Ayala (27th, 17:53), Phillip Abrahamson (34th, 18:26), Aden Scott (36th, 18:42), William Leonard (37th, 18:43), Keygan Roberts (48th, 19:38) and Lawson Morris (50th, 19:50).

“Our boys pack of Caden Ayala, Phillip Abrahamson, Aden Scott, and William Leonard did an awesome job of packing it up and moving up throughout the race,” Comfort said. “They are starting to believe that they can be a great time. Today was a big step for them.”

For Pella, they placed two boys in the top 10 with Chase Lauman (16:33) taking eighth with Tony Schmitz (16:36) finishing right behind him in ninth.

Rounding out the Dutch lineup was Josiah Wittenberg (13th, 16:48), Nathan VanderWaal (18th, 17:04), Akira Lopez (23rd, 17:18) and Cutler Turner (24th, 17:29).

The Eagles finished just seven points behind Grinnell for seventh place. Their runners included Kaden Van Wyngarden (30th, 18:13), Brayton Juffer (33rd, 18:24), Ryan Natelborg (40th, 18:54), Ethan Milligan (44th, 19:10), Micah DeHaan (47th, 19:23), Tysen DeVries (49th, 19:46) and Brant VanderHart (51st, 20:05).

Addi Carter ran a strong final mile to lead Oskaloosa with a 27th place finish and a time of 21:58. Behind Carter was Anna Coniglio (32nd, 22:25), Sage Adam (34th, 22:29), Olivia Stodghill (46th, 24:33), Morgan Drost (47th, 24:37), Abby Lumsden (49th, 25:41) and Paiven Knoot (50th, 25:56).

“Addi Carter led our girls and had her best third mile of the year,” Comfort said. “I am super proud of how much she has improved the last few races. Anna and Sage did a great job of racing tough and our pack go Olivia, Morgan, Paiven, and Abby did a great job fighting over the last half of the race to secure sixth place.”

The Lady Dutch were able to place three girls in the top 20 with Jacie Trine (20:31) taking 14th, Autumn Blink (20:41) 17th and Abigail Culter (21:08) 20th.

Not far behind was Ashley Blommers (22nd, 21:23), Macy Schroeder (28th, 21:58), Tess Paulsen (31st, 22:20) and Sophia Boonstra (36th, 22:58).

The Pella Christian girls only had four runners so they didn’t record a team score. Jaclyn Holmes had another strong race for the Eagles, taking 21st with a time of 21:15. Following behind her was Jenna Van Maanen (41st, 23:27), Karis Fikkert (43rd, 23:29) and Leah Osborn (53rd, 29:30).

All teams will be back in action next week for the State Qualifying Meets.

Colin Peters can be reached at 641-672-2581, by email at cpeters@oskyherald.com or on Twitter @ColinPetersOH.

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