South Hardin leads locals at Spartan invite

GRUNDY CENTER – A crisp, cool autumn air greeted runners at the Spartan Invite Thursday, signaling postseason cross country is fast approaching.

With just more than a month before state, the meet provided both a barometer for runners to test their mid-season fitness and an opportunity to vie for final varsity spots as injury and illness opened the door for others.

A school record-tying performance by Lydia Rose propelled Class 2A No. 13 ranked South Hardin to a fourth place finish with 99 points, while Grundy Center (135), North Tama (159) and Gladbrook-Reinbeck (162) grabbed the fifth through seventh slots in the girls field. Class 1A No. 7 Denver took the title with 33 points.

Rose matched the Tigers’ school record of 15 minutes, 36 seconds set by Catherine Penning at the Union Invitational in 2009, to claim runner-up honors. Due to illness, South Hardin was without No. 2 runner Claire Damon though several others rose to the occasion.

“Both the boys and girls had a really nice outing. We needed people to step up and everyone did. If you told me that we were going to run this well tonight I’d have been real happy beforehand, so I’m real happy with tonight,” said South Hardin coach Mike Olson.

North Tama’s Abi Watson took third in 15:43. Hannah Stumberg paced the Spartans finishing 14th in 17:05, while Meg Edler guided the Rebels placing 22nd in 17:54. Codi Groth led GMG placing 44th in 19:56.

Not quite at full strength, both the Redhawks and Rebels were encouraged by their results.

“We have a couple of people back in the lineup. We’re looking to stay consistent and keep everyone healthy. We want to get everyone in the right frame of mind for competing at the state qualifying meets,” said North Tama coach Mike Skopec.

“We’re finally getting somewhat healthy,” Gladbrook-Reinbeck coach Andy McQuillen said. “Hopefully by next week we’ll have all of our runners back and continue to improve in these final weeks.”