FORT DODGE, Iowa — Pleasant Valley left no doubt which program reigns supreme in Class 4A girls cross country this season.
Paced by three runners in the top 10, the Spartans finished off a perfect fall against Iowa competition with their first state championship in 18 years Saturday at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course.
Top-ranked PV finished with 49 points, 44 clear of second-place Linn-Mar.
“Unbelievable,” said freshman McKenzie Yanek, who led the Spartans with a fourth-place finish in the 2.5-mile race in 14 minutes, 9 seconds. “Our team is so astounding and always there for each other. I don’t think you’ll find a better team in the nation because we’re so close and so deep.”
Kaley Ciluffo was sixth in 14:19 and Maddie Reynolds took seventh in 14:20. In all, PV had five runners in the top 19 to snap West Des Moines Dowling’s five-year run as state champion.
“We knew they had a streak, but we didn’t even think about it,” PV coach Jane Wheeler said. “We knew how ready these girls were, and we had no concern if they did what they have been doing.
“This is one of those magical years. It is a great group of kids that were on the same page, work hard for each other and made it happen.”
It is the school’s fourth state championship, joining the 1983, 1985 and 1994 squads. The Spartans won the conference and regional meets earlier this month at Crow Creek Park with nearly perfect scores.
“This just shows our team’s dominance,” Ciluffo said. “It showed how bad we wanted it ever since last year. To set a goal like that and do that is so cool.”
Yanek’s time was the fastest for a Spartan at the state meet in at least a decade.
“I felt strong on the hills,” she said. “Our team practices so much there, so I was pretty confident.”
With five of their top six runners returning, the Spartans have their sights set on a repeat. First, Reynolds wants to savor this one.
“It was so crazy how well we did,” she said. “It is so perfect — and I love it.”
Davenport Assumption, led by Beth Mallon’s fifth-place finish in 15:02, took third in Class 3A with 93 points, trailing Decorah and MOC-Floyd Valley.
Molly Gilchrist and Mallory King had top-20 finishes for the Knights, who earned a place on the deck — awarded to the top three teams — for the second consecutive year.
Northeast was the runner-up in Class 2A behind Unity Christian. Kaitlynn Riley fueled the Rebels with an eighth-place finish in 15:29.
In Class 1A, Bellevue Marquette was seventh and Durant took ninth. Bettendorf finished 11th in Class 4A with 238 points.