It was a big day for Lakes Conference teams and runners here Thursday afternoon in a Class 3A District meet.
Spirit Lake emerged as the boys team champion and Estherville-Lincoln Central the girls team champ. Spencer was third in the boys race and Spirit Lake second in the girls race.
Meanwhile, as SLHS coach John Brostad had calculated, the Storm Lake boys took seventh place and the girls 11th.
Neither Storm Lake team will advance to state. The state meet-qualifying teams are Spirit Lake, Sioux City Bishop Heelan and Spencer. On the girls side, Estherville, Spirit Lake and Garner Hayfield advance.
"We knew it would be a tough district and it was," Brostad said. "Heelan and Garner Hayfield were very strong teams along with the Lakes teams.
"It was not surprising that out of the three team qualifiers in both boys and girls races, two were Lakes Conference teams," he added. "We knew how tough our conference was this season.
"Next year won't be any easier as most of the kids on the (qualifying Lakes teams) were underclassmen. Out of the ten individual boys and ten girls qualifiers, half were Lakes Conference runners."
In taking seventh, the Storm Lake boys finished with 193 points, beating six other teams.
Junior A.J. Croker led the Tornadoes, finishing the course in 15th place overall in 16 minutes, 12 seconds. According to Brostad, Croker was just 16 seconds from qualifying for state.
Junior Geoff Ullerich took 37th in 16:55. He was the Tornadoes' No. 5 runner in last week's conference meet and moved up to No. 2 at districts.
Ryan Lovstad was 44th in 17:06, displaying his usual consistency, Brostad said. Daren Koehler was 48th in 17:12 while Jesse Munger was 49th in 17:13. Senior Joe Cullen finished his
cross country career by taking 52nd in 17:20. David Brady was 53rd in 17:24.
Brostad said six of his seven varsity boys runners are juniors and will return next season.
"We will miss Joe Cullen next year; he's always been a fine representative of our team and a fine runner," Brostad said. "It was nice t that the boys team broke into the rankings late in the season as we were rated 15th in 3A.
"I think the teams from this district will place very high in the state meet," the coach added.
In taking 11th, the Storm Lake High girls were led by sophomore Christine Becker. She finished the 4,000 meter girls course in 16:34. Brostad said Becker was slowed by a sore hip towards the middle of the race.
Freshman Lindsey Cavanaugh was 57th in 18 minutes flat, junior Amanda Cavanaugh 61st in 18:14 and senior Heather Douglas 66th in 18:32. In just her second meet of the season, senior Julie Manatham was 78th in 21:35.
"We will miss Julie's and Heather's leadership and hard work ethic next year," Brostad said. "They are great young ladies."
The district's top three boys finishers were Bishop Heelan's Anthony Oberle, district champion in 15:25, Tyler Peekenschneider of Spirit Lake, second in 15:29 and Ben Kraus of Garner-Hayfield. third in 15:32.