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Charles City boys pace field at Sam Iverson XC Invitational for 2nd-straight win

Charles City boys pace field at Sam Iverson XC Invitational for 2nd-straight win
Press photo by John Burbridge
Charles City freshman Xander Graeser, right, placed fourth with a personal-record 5K time of 17 minutes, 25.8 seconds while helping the Comets win the Sam Iverson Invitational — the team’s second-straight meet win.

By John Burbridge

GRUNDY CENTER — Even in the age of Google where information is at our fingertips as long as our smartphones are charged up, it’s still nice to have a walking encyclopedia at your disposal.

That’s why Charles City head boys cross country coach Ryan Rahmiller came in handy for the answer to this trivia question.

When was the last time the Comet boys won back-to-back meets?

“About six years, 11 months and two days ago.”

We’ll take his word for it.

At the Sam Iverson Invitational hosted by Grundy Center High School, the Comet boys — ranked 18th in Class 3A according to the latest Iowa Association of Track Coaches poll — made it two in a row including last week’s team victory at the Elkader Central Invite when they bested a field of 13 teams with a first-place total of 49 points, Thursday at the GC Town and Country Club.

Leading the way for the Comets was freshman Xander Graeser, whose fourth-place 5K time of 17 minutes, 25.8 seconds shattered a previous personal-record by more than 30 seconds.

Senior Jacob Vais placed sixth with a time of 17:37.2 — his best time of the season.

“We knew we were going to get good runs out of Xander and Jacob,” Rahmiller said of his freshman and senior — the former had been battling muscle fatigue early into his first season running the 5K distance; the latter is coming back from injuries that hampered him the past two seasons.

“But our bread-and-butter have been these guys,” Rahmiller said of the Comet trio of senior Jared Johnson, sophomore Isaac Thompson and freshman Nick Williams, who finished in close proximity to each other with respective 12th-, 13th- and 14th-place times of 18:01.4, 18:07.4 and 18:03.3 — personal-records for Johnson and Thompson.

“We needed to move that pack up a little for this race,” Rahmiller said, “and that’s what helped us as you can see here.”

Rahmiller was referring to a group of Grundy Center runners — sophomore Kaden Lynch and seniors Ethan Sadler and Soren Cleveland, who placed seventh, eighth and 10th, respectively, while helping the hosting Spartans placed second with 65 team points

Rahmiller had a good feeling going into the meet, but knew the Spartans were going to pose a challenge.

“They’re a Class 2A school, but they just ran a meet neck-in-neck with Decorah,” he said.

Placing first in the boys varsity race was Valley Lutheran senior Isaac Natvig (16:57.4) ahead of East Marshall LeGrand junior Joe Terrones (17:15.2) and Denver junior Jack Mulert (17:18.2).

In the girls varsity race, Charles City placed eighth.

The Comets were paced by senior two-time state individual qualifier Lydia Staudt, who placed 15th with a season-best time of 21:23.4.

Rounding out the scoring for Charles City were sophomore Lauren Staudt (33rd, 22:59.5), junior Harper McInroy (34th, 23:02), junior Natalie White (45th, 24:08) and junior Claire Eckenrod (57th, 24:59).

Union La Porte City senior Ellie Rathe was the girls varsity individual winner with a time of 18:53.5 followed by runner-up Hudson senior Addison Grady (19:17.9).

Freshman Reeve Ristau, senior Chloe Ristau and junior Amber Homan seized the next places in order while representing Denver and helping the Cyclones win the girls varsity race easily as their 31 team points was well ahead of runner-up Union La Porte City (109) in the 12-team field.

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