BRANDON HURLEY | TIMES VEDETTE          Noah Nelsen runs at the Panorama Invite.
BRANDON HURLEY | TIMES VEDETTE Noah Nelsen runs at the Panorama Invite.

1A BOYS’ STATE XC

Sturdy veterans will be the theme of Saturday’s 1A boys’ state cross country meet.

And once again, the AC/GC boys’ cross country program is represented at the annual state meet for the fourth straight year thanks to a pair of talented seniors.

Tenth-ranked Noah Nelsen and fellow cohort Clay Billheimer secured yet another trip to state during last week’s state qualifying meet in Guthrie Center while West Central Valley’s Louden Foster punched his ticket as well with a strong performance.

Nelsen snagged a runner-up finish Oct. 18, running to a time of 17:41, just behind third-ranked Josh Baudler of Nodaway Valley (17:31).

Foster wasn’t far behind in third, finishing with a time of 17:46. Billheimer secured a spot at Saturday’s meet in Fort Dodge by placing 11th with a time of 18:36.

Ninth-ranked Earlham squeaked out the state qualifying title by scoring 84 points, out-lasting three-time defending 1A champion and second-ranked Nodaway Valley (92). Woodward-Academy secured the final automatic state berth by placing third with a team score of 96, well ahead of Tri-Center (124).

AC/GC placed fifth, just missing out on the top four with a score of 16). The top five was well clear of the other 12 teams, as Sidney came in a distant sixth with 206 points.

Top-ranked Madrid and 2017 runner-up Sean McDermott will be the team to beat Saturday when the 1A boys toe the starting line at 2:30 p.m. in the final race of the day. The boys’ will compete at the Lakeside Golf Course outside of Fort Dodge.

McDermott qualified with the fastest time at 16:32, a full minute ahead of Nelsen while the Tigers placed third a year ago.

The AC/GC duo and Foster, who’s making his first state appearance, will also compete against runners from BCLUW, Denver (12th in 2017), South Winneshiek (5th), Pekin (7th), North Linn, Mount Ayr, Hudson and Durant, among others.