FORT DODGE, Iowa — Julia Schumacher had a turbulent start to the cross country season.

After claiming an individual state championship last season, the Davenport Assumption junior wasn’t running the same times as a year ago and her confidence started to wane.

“It was pretty rough for me at the beginning, really down on myself,” she said.

Schumacher, though, had no qualms about how she finished the season. She followed up top-five finishes at the Mississippi Athletic Conference and state-qualifying meets with a third-place finish Saturday in the Class 3A division at Lakeside Golf Course.

Her 5,000-meter time of 18 minutes, 43 seconds was 18 seconds quicker than her winning mark last fall.

“I went out there and put my best race together,” Schumacher said. “I’m not disappointed at all that I didn’t win this year. The competition got better and I ran a faster time. That’s all I can ask.”

Center Point-Urbana freshman Adrianna Katcher led nearly the entire race in posting a winning time of 18:27 — 12-plus seconds ahead of Charles City’s McKayla Cole.

Schumacher and teammate Joy Ripslinger followed Cole.

“I can’t believe (Katcher) is a freshman,” Schumacher said. “I thought to myself, ‘Oh, she’s a freshman, she doesn’t know what she’s doing and probably is gonna die. I was waiting for her to slow down, but she maintained that lead the whole time. She had a great race.”

Schumacher said the MAC meet was a breakthrough for her psyche. It carried over to the state-qualifying and state meets.

“When I got back here today, all the memories of me winning last year really kept me motivated and got my confidence back up,” she said. “I went out there and put together a good race.”

Ripslinger, just a tenth of a second behind Schumacher, was 46 seconds faster than what she ran last year.

“I don’t think I can be disappointed by any means,” Ripslinger said. “I probably came in with a little higher expectations, but I’m really happy Julia and I worked together.

“She was pushing me and I think I pushed her a little bit. We trained the way we ran, so it is cool we can put our training into action.”

Ripslinger closed her prep cross country career with four top-10 finishes at the state meet, a rare feat.

“My freshman year, I didn’t expect that at all,” she said. “I showed myself that I was worthy of competing at this level.”

Decorah edged Pella by four points for the 3A title. Assumption finished 13th.

In the Class 4A girls, Pleasant Valley and North Scott finished 10th and 11th, respectively. Muscatine was 14th.

Johnston had four of the top seven finishers and tallied 26 points to win the meet by 65 points over Dubuque Hempstead.

Bettendorf’s Trinity Borland was the highest local finisher. The junior was eighth in 18:55.

“I’m super excited,” Borland remarked. “The race just felt short after all the training and tapering.”

Borland admitted she fed on the energy of the crowd.

“I love this course,” she said. “It is really motivational because this is on the only meet that you can hear people constantly everywhere.”

North Scott freshman Presley Case and Bettendorf senior Ally Gallagher earned state medals with 13th- and 15th-place finishes, respectively. Case finished in 19:02 and Gallagher 19:03.

Case’s classmate, Abbi Lafrenz, was North Scott’s second finisher in 24th. The Lancers return all seven runners next season.

PV’s top four finishers were all sophomores — Maddy Minard (20th, 19:25), Abby Riley (25th, 19:31), Mallory Lafever (51st, 20:05) and Caroline Christopherson (69th, 20:28).

Brina Kraft led the Muskies with a 33rd-place finish.

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Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.