PV boys XC

The Pleasant Valley boys cross country team won the program's fourth state title Saturday. 

Contributed photo

FORT DODGE, Iowa — After falling two points short to Dowling Catholic at last year’s state meet, Pleasant Valley's boys cross country team returned with a vengeance Saturday at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course, leaving the field in the dust.

With five runners in the top 20, PV compiled 61 points to claim the program’s fourth state championship and first since 2008 by 45 points over Dubuque Hempstead and Dowling.

Since its three-peat from 2006-08, PV has been a fixture at the state meet and usually among the top five.

A title had eluded them.

“I knew we could win, but I didn’t think we’d do this,” senior Konnor Sommer said. “This was incredible, something really special.

“It was amazing watching everyone have their best race on the right day.”

As Sommer crossed the finish line in fourth place, he turned back and saw several of his teammates close behind on the final straightaway.

Anthony Pena was ninth, Gavin Smith 11th, Ian Kaffenberger 18th and Parker Huhn 20th. The separation between Sommer and Huhn was just 33 seconds.

“This is the best race we’ve had all year,” Pena said.

Kaffenberger said the team watched videos from past PV teams that won state and how they finished races.

“That led us to believe we could do it,” he said.

The 61 points are the lowest PV has scored in its four state championship victories.

“They knew they could do it, and they did it big,” said coach Erik Belby. “It was really cool to see them come through so confident and deliver in a big, big race.

“They were determined from the first day of summer.”

PV came into the meet loose, relaxed and confident.

They went bowling Friday night and had a heartfelt conversation about rising to the occasion.

“We said big-time athletes show up in big-time races, and the boys showed up today,” Pena said. “Nothing is ever given to you, but motivation was a huge part of this.

“We did not want to fall short like last year. That motivation drove us throughout the winter, spring, summer and this season. It was a great, great feeling.”

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