FORT DODGE, Iowa — After dominating performances at the River Valley Conference and state-qualifying meets, Bellevue’s boys cross country team was poised for a second state title in four seasons.
Nodaway Valley nixed that plan.
The Wolverines became the first school to run off three straight championships in Class 1A with four runners in the top nine Saturday afternoon at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course. Nodaway Valley, located in southwest Iowa, finished with 56 points — 26 in front of runner-up Bellevue.
“Mixed emotions,” Bellevue coach Scott Jess said. “We’re happy with second, but our goal was to get first. We didn’t run as well as I thought we’d run.
“But I told the boys, you’ve got to put it in perspective. To finish second in the state is pretty impressive.”
Bellevue won its conference meet by 40 points. It rolled by 82 points at the state-qualifier in Solon.
Freshman Brady Griebel led the Comets with a 16th-place finish overall, seventh in the team competition. Caleb Kress was 13th and Alex Reed 14th.
Kress thought the Comets might have gone out too fast in the first mile.
“Nodaway Valley came out and just out-performed us,” Kress said. “We’ve got to keep our heads held high. We’ve still got track season, and we can do some good things there.”
It was Bellevue’s third top-five finish at the state meet in the last four years.
Bellevue’s River Valley Conference counterparts, Mid-Prairie and Tipton, finished second and third in 2A behind George-Little Rock/Central Lyon.
Tipton had two in the top 16 with junior all-stater Ben Ellis (12th, 16:52) and freshman Caleb Schumaker (16th, 17:06).
“These boys have a really good attitude, very positive-minded kids,” Tipton coach Eric Walsh said. “This really started in the summer with a lot of mileage, and they willed themselves to be good.”
The Tigers return five of their top seven runners next season, and Walsh said talent is stocked at the middle school level.
“We’re hoping to be around for a while,” he said. “We’re going to miss those two seniors, but I’m hoping we can fill the gaps next year.”
Northeast’s Wyatt Schmidt earned all-state honors in 2A with a 12th-place finish in 16:50.
Schmidt used an explosive kick in the final 800 meters to collect a spot on the deck given to the top 15 finishers.
“I’ve been working for that for three years,” he said. “Ever since I started cross country and got to state, I wanted to make it on that porch.”
In 1A, Wilton sophomore Buddy Darting was sixth and Calamus-Wheatland junior Hunter Rickels placed 10th.
Darting, just outside the top 20 a year ago, was the top sophomore in the field in 16:32.
“I was aiming for top 15,” Darting said. “It was a faster pack, so I stayed with them as long as I could during the race.
“I wanted to get out fast so I wasn’t blocked in like I was last year.”
Rickels had a disappointing state meet last year and admitted this season hasn’t been to his liking. He crossed in 16:40 — 26 seconds behind repeat winner Riley Bauer of North Union.
Instead of storming to the front like he did last year, Rickels hung back. About the two-mile mark of the 5,000-meter race, he found another gear.
“This was my goal last year, so to do it this year and show my teammates I can lead the team and do what I can do, is a long time coming,” Rickels said.
“This year has been awful for me, but after this race I have a new life. It makes me want to do better now in the future.”