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Comet sophomores Williams, Graeser move closer to the front in second XC state race

Comet sophomores Williams, Graeser move closer to the front in second XC state race
Press photo by John Burbridge
Charles City sophomores Xander Graeser, left, and Nick Williams have earned the distinction of being state cross country individual qualifiers their first two years in high school.

By John Burbridge

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FORT DODGE — Charles City sophomore Nick Williams has run in all types of conditions.

Hot. Cold. Rain. Snow.

But every once in a while you’ll get a day like last Saturday at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge during the State Cross Country Championships.

“It was a perfect day for running,” Williams said after competing in the Class 3A Boys 5K, which was graced with dry temperatures in the lower to mid-60s without the slightest whisper of wind.

“But I didn’t feel I ran my best race,” Williams said. “I wasn’t feeling it as well as I have before.”

Williams may have been referring to an earlier cross country meet hosted by Dike-New Hartford, from which he ran a personal-record 5K time of 16 minutes, 45 seconds.

During the state meet, Williams placed 71st with a time of 17:34.87. Fellow Comet Xander Graeser was a little more than a half-second behind in 72nd-place (17:35.74).

Last year as freshman individual qualifiers, Williams and Graeser both placed in the 100s with 5K times greater than 18 minutes

“They didn’t run their best races today,” Charles City head coach said of Williams and Graeser, “but they both made great strides from last year.

“I don’t think too many people know the significance of these two young men qualifying to state as individuals their freshman and sophomore years.”

The last Charles City Comet male to qualify as an individual his freshman and sophomore seasons was Isaac Wendland, who went on to become a four-time individual qualifier.

Of course, we would be amiss if we didn’t mention that Wendland was a three-time XC state champion with a third-place showing his freshman year.

The Iowa Track and Field Hall of Fame member was named head coach of the Liberty University (Lynchburg, Va.) cross country program in 2021.

Williams and Graeser both plan to put in plenty of road work during the offseason — winter weather be damned.

“I’m just going to keep on working and keep getting stronger,” said Williams, who plans to go out for basketball this season ahead of the track and field season — both Williams and Graeser got substantial playing time with the Comet freshman boys basketball team (and both have noticeably grown since then).

Rahmiller said they’re also growing as runners.

“They are both starting to use the tools that they have,” he said. “Down the homestretch, Nick picked up (passed) a runner and Xander picked up two. You like to see that from young runners in a big race like this.

“This is a fast race … it can be overwhelming for some runners. If you don’t get out early with the leaders, it’s hard to catch up. And you need to be mobile on the run … to get to the outside if you’re trapped within a pack.

“They both had a great season … I can’t wait for the track season,” said Rahmiller, who also is Charles City’s head boys T&F coach.

In a rather close race along the course’s down-graded homestretch, Lewis Central junior Ethan Eichorn won the Class 3A boys race with a time of 15:32.43 — less than 2 seconds ahead of Marion senior and runner-up Jedidiah Osgood (15:34.17), fresh off his West Delaware State Qualifier first-place performance the week-and-a-half before.

Pella was the Class 3A boys team champion with 79 team points ahead of Top 3 finishers Marion (115) and North Polk Alleman (123).

* The day before in the Girls Class 1A race, Nashua-Plainfield sophomore Kadence Huck — who helped the Huskies win their first-ever State Girls Track and Field Championship last spring as a freshman — earned medalist honors with a 10th-place finishing time of 19:27.07.

In the subsequent Boys Class 1A race, North Butler senior and three-time state qualifier Owen Alemelien placed 20th with a time of 16:59.64.

State Cross Country Championships

Oct. 28-29

AT LAKESIDE MUNICIPAL PARK, FORT DODGE

Class 3A Boys 5K

Team Placings — 1. Pella 79, 2. Marion 115, 3. North Polk Alleman 123, 4. Carlisle 134, 5. Winterset 141, 6. Glenwood 154, 7. Gilbert 186, 8. Moc-Floyd Valley 212, 9. Mount Vernon-Lisbon 212, 10. Western Dubuque 231, 11. Solon 259, 12. ADM Adel 264, 13. Lewis Central 277, 14. Clear Creek-Amana 300, 15. Fort Madison 375.

Top 15 Medalists — 1. Ethan Eichhorn (Lewis Central) 15:32.43, 2. Jedidiah Osgood (Marion) 15:34.17, 3. Isaiah Hammerand (Western Dubuque) 15:49.10, 4. Zach Sporaa (North Polk) 15:51.24, 5. William Wadsley (Gilbert) 15:52.45, 6. Canaan Dunham (Pella) 16:00.62, 7. Tommy Tyynismaa (South Tama) 16:08.77, 8. Chase Lauman (Pella) 16:08.77, 9. Nathan VanderWaal (Pella) 16:09.37, 10. Bryant Keller (Glenwood) 16:09.37, 11. Mason Back (Winterset) 16:13.90, 12. Luiz Martinez (Storm Lake) 16:21.24, 13. Micah Rees (Washington) 16:26.82, 14. Grady Olberding (Mount Vernon-Lisbon) 16:28.29, 15. Max Sporaa (North Polk Alleman) 16:33.18.

CHARLES CITY — 71. Nick Williams 17:34.87, 72. Xander Graeser 17:35.74.

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