FORT DODGE, Iowa — McKenzie Yanek was frustrated this summer.
The Pleasant Valley sophomore cross country runner was experiencing pain in her hip and never felt she could put in the necessary training to get prepared for the season.
"I was worried," she said. "Before the end of August, I hadn't gotten to do many workouts. I was itching to run fast."
Yanek overcame the injury and completed an undefeated season against Iowa competition Saturday with a Class 4A state championship at Lakeside Golf Course.
She crossed the finish line in the 4,000-meter race in 14 minutes, 0.02 — nearly 10 seconds ahead of West Des Moines Dowling's Karissa Schwiezer.
Yanek is PV's first individual state champion since Julie Wuorinen won the 3A title in 1996, two years before Yanek was born.
"One of our seniors said on the way back, 'If there is anybody who deserves to win that meet, it is McKenzie,'" PV coach Jane Wheeler said. "She did everything she could possibly do to post that performance, and she's so humble."
Yanek didn't show much emotion afterward.
"You'd think I would feel on top of the world, but it just feels like any other Saturday night," Yanek said.
PV, which won last year's state championship, finished third behind West Des Moines Dowling and Ames. Addie Royer came in 15th and Maddie Reynolds was 20th for the Spartans, who finished with 128 points.
"When you've been to the top, you want to stay up there so there was a little disappointment," Wheeler said. "Afterward, we just talked and said a lot of teams have never been on this deck (top-three finish) and you've been two years in a row. That's pretty special."
Davenport Assumption freshman Joy Ripslinger finished second in Class 3A. She finished in 14:38, just more than a second behind Pella's Tess Roorda.
"I'm very pleased," Ripslinger said. "Of course, there were some nerves involved, but I wanted to do my best and leave it all on the course.
"I never thought at the beginning of the year I'd be in this position. I just wanted to improve throughout the season."
Ripslinger's finish propelled the Knights to third place for the third straight year. Assumption came into the meet ranked No. 1.
Decorah and MOC-Floyd Valley each concluded with 108 points, with Decorah winning on the tiebreaker. Assumption totaled 126 as Beth Mallon was 17th and Mallory King took 28th.
"Obviously going into a state meet, you're looking to compete with the best, and I think we did that," coach Alex Flores said. "Some of them were kind of upset because they've been to state their whole career and wanted to end on a bang.
"We just made them realize not everybody gets the opportunity to go as many times as we have gone. To finish top three is saying a lot. It was a very successful year for us."
Bettendorf finished 12th and Muscatine was 15th in 4A.
Durant led the area contingent with an 11th-place finish in 1A. Wilton's Caitlin Bisbey took 24th and Durant's Alyssa Williams came in 28th.