Panorama’s Ella Waddle                                (278) runs to a fourth place finish in the Class 2A state cross country championships held Oct. 27 in Fort Dodge.Waddle finished in 19:31.
Panorama’s Ella Waddle (278) runs to a fourth place finish in the Class 2A state cross country championships held Oct. 27 in Fort Dodge.Waddle finished in 19:31.


Even a bump up in class could do little to deter Panorama’s recent dominance.

The Panthers’ latest display of excellence put them right at home with 2A’s elite at last week’s state meet in Fort Dodge.

Panorama sophomore Ella Waddle’s fifth-place finish capped a historic season as the Panthers placed inside the top 10 for the fifth straight year.

The last time PHS failed to place inside the top 10, not one of this year’s batch of runners had even entered high school.The year was 2013 and the Harlem Shake was popular and “What does the Fox say?” tortured our ear drums.

Veteran experience powered PHS this fall, as Waddle earned her second consecutive all-state honor, off the heels of last year’s sixth-place finish at the 1A meet, running to a time of 19:32, the fastest any Panther has ever run at the Lakeside Golf Course.

Panorama placed two runners in the top 50 on Oct. 27 as Olivia Steffen finished 47th thanks to a season-best of 21:19.

Twin-sister Gwen Steffen placed 52nd, also capturing her best time of the season (21:19.7).

As one of the smaller schools in the 2A field, the Panthers held their own, losing a sixth-place tie-breaker with Western Dubuque Cascade to finish seventh with 180 points.

Mid-Prairie successfully defended their 2A state title, lapping the field with 89 points. Led by individual champion Marie Hostetler (18:02.1), the Hawks produced three athletes in the top 25 to outlast runner-up Williamsburg (118). Woodbury Central/Kingsley-Pierson finished in third with 118 points while Jesup (145) and Danville-New London (155) rounded out the top five.

Springville-Central’s Emily Staal wasn’t far behind Hostetler, finishing runner-up with a time of 18:07.4, well ahead of third place Cassidy Ihne of Crestwood (18:58).

Aplington-Parkersburg’s Sophia Jungling out-paced Waddle and shut her out of a top four finish, running to a time of 19:22, sliding in at No. 4.

Panorama’s Payton Beck-man placed 75th in her first run at the state meet, running to a time of 21:55.

Brooklyn Behrends, appearing in her fourth and final state meet, capped off a ground-breaking career by sliding in at 102nd, running to her fastest career state time at 22:48.

Jaelyn Waddle finished 126th while Chloe Webster rounded out the PHS runners, placing 130th.

“Payton gained valuable experience in looking forward to her next three years,” Panorama head coach Greg Thompson said. “Chloe, in her third state meet race, and Jaelyn, in her first and only state meet race, gave great effort.”  

Behrends will be one of four seniors graduating in the spring, which leaves a deep roster of experienced girls returning for the 2018 season. PHS will need to replace Behrends as well as Jaelyn Waddle, Emily Smith and Bryn Steffen, a quartet that has left a lasting impact on the program.

“Brooklyn and Emily provided the team with entertainment using their humor and social skills,” Thompson said, uttering his lasting remarks of the runners. “Jaelyn and Bryn have great work ethic.”

Ella Waddle has already cemented herself as one of the greats in Panorama lore, winning five individual crowns this fall to extend her school record to six wins. She won the West Central Activities Conference title, a state qualifying meet crown while also placing inside the top six at state for the second straight year.