This one certainly didn’t come easy, but in the end, the remarkable streak remained intact.
Navigating a re-structured and rain-soaked course, the Panorama girls’ cross country team snatched their sixth-straight West Central Activities Conference title last week, out-lasting Earlham at a cool, yet sun-soaked Panorama West Course.
The Panthers earned a bevy of big time performances en route to victory, highlighted by sophomore Ella Waddle’s individual championship, edging the nearest runner by more than a minute. Panorama placed a total of four runners in the top 15, scoring 40 team points, just ahead of the Cardinals at 44.
(94) rounded out the top three thanks a runner-up finish from junior Kate Crawford and four runners in the top 30.
Waddle captured her fourth win of the year, extending her school record by out-pacing the field of 104 runners, nearly wire-to-wire, finishing with a time 18:04.
Crawford came in second at 19:05.75.
Panorama was powered by three in the top 10, as Payton Beckman finished a distant third with a time of 20:27.05 while Olivia Steffen came in seventh with a time of
21:15.35, both earning first team all-conference honors. Brooklyn Behrends rounded out the Panthers’ dominance with a 14th place finish, with a time of 21:31, earning herself second team all-conference honors.
It was a satisfying performance for 2A’s third-ranked program, especially with the state qualifying meet looming this afternoon, at the same course. Thompson challenged his kids earlier in the week, asking them to find an extra gear in conditions they knew would be less than ideal.
“I told the team that this race was going to be about heart, not necessarily the most talented,” the coach said. “I saw great heart and determination.”
Waddle’s tremendous 2018 continues to gain steam, as she’s yet to finish worse than third in any meet – which was only once at a meet filled with 3A competition in Ames – more often than not being at the forefront of a pack of strong runners. She continues to set the bar high for Panorama cross country, extending her school record of wins to five.
She’s rated sixth in 2A, and should be one of the favorites to win today’s state qualifying meet, and perhaps even at next week’s state championships in Fort Dodge.
Dominance for more than half a decade doesn’t come naturally, Thompson said. A pride in their craft and attentiveness while striving to be the best is what powers his group of consistently strong runners. Waddle and company are no exception to the tradition Panorama has built over the years, pushing each other to achieve greatness each time they set foot on a new course.
“Work ethic and commitment is the number one reason why the girls have shown consistent success,” the coach said. “The girls are very good about taking care of themselves – sleep, nutrition, stretching, icing, running on the weekends, etc.
They tend to push themselves and each other every day to get better. They show up every day for practice and are ready to work hard.”
AC/GC’s Rylee Sloss (21st) and Alyson Embleton (24th) cracked the top 25 while Keely Vasey placed 29th.
“I was pretty disappointed in our team performances. I think that both (our boys’ and girls’) teams are much better than they showed, and we ended up doing poorly in the team races,” the coach said. “A lot of that can be attributed to injury and illness last week, but when you have high expectations going into a meet, it is hard when you don’t meet those expectations.
Nobody had a bad race, but some people didn’t quite hit the mark that we had set out for them.”
West Central Valley’s Aliyah Dickson snagged second-team all-conference honors thanks to her medalist performance, placing 16th. The Wildcats did not score as a team, lacking a full squad of varsity runners, as Emily Escoto came in 37th as the next highest WCV runner.
Panorama will host a Class 2A state qualifying meet this afternoon (Oct. 18) while West Central Valley will head a bit farther west to Guthrie Center.