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FORT DODGE - For the first time this season, Mid-Prairie’s Anna and Marie Hostetler had company at the front of the pack after one mile on the cross-country course. Karley Larson, Jordan Winke, and defending two-time state champion Paige Holub were right behind the sisters, who had finished 1-2 in all nine meets this year.
At the finish line however, the scene was familiar. Hostetler crossed the finish line with a time of 17:57.7. The state champion, the overall fastest time among all four classes. The second-fastest overall time in the two-year history of the 5K Iowa Cross Country State Championships.
“She’s trained a lot harder,” said Hostetler’s coach and father, Mark, “getting strong is something that’s really helped them both. I was pretty happy with the way they finished.”
Hostetler turned in the dominating performance, despite not feeling great on the course.
“It looked like Anna was struggling, like it wasn’t comfortable for her,” Coach Hostetler said. “A hard race is never comfortable, but it looked like she was struggling more than usual. She wasn’t feeling the greatest, but she still pushed herself hard.”
Marie crossed the finish line in second with a time of 18:15.3. The Mid-Prairie freshman is the owner of the fifth-fastest 5K all-time performance.
“It’s just great, this has been a dream season,” Anna Hostetler said of the duo’s 10th consecutive 1-2 finish, “it was something we wanted to do, we thought at the beginning of the season ‘oh, that would be so cool if we did,’ but we didn’t know if it would happen.
“I want to give God all the glory and also my parents for helping us through, and not just in-season, but off-season, helping us and motivating us.”
The trio chasing the sisters all finished in the top five last year and this year averaged times 35 seconds faster than their 2015 performances. The Mid-Prairie junior took 1:50.4 off of her 14th place finish from a season ago to break the Class 2A girls 5K record by 57 seconds.
“Its exciting, it means a lot,” Hostetler said, “but again with all the hard work we’ve put in, something I’ve learned is: you can do whatever you want to do if you work hard at it. Some days it’s not fun, but if you keep working at it, you can accomplish what you want to.”
Marie Hostetler’s time of 18:15 was 83 seconds faster than the 1A champion, 12 seconds ahead of the 3A champion, and trailed just Bailey Nock of West High (18:06) and Jessica McKee of Johnston (18:10) from the 4A championship race.
“I was pretty nervous, but not a lot more than usual,” said the freshman. “I came in with a lot of confidence that we could do it.”
“The second mile is always the mentally hardest and toughest. The third mile was tough too but we pulled it off.”
The Mid-Prairie girls had their highest team finish in program history, beating Springville-Central-City 133-145 for third place. Monticello won the meet with 93 points, and South Winneshiek was second with 131.
“It was unbelievable,” said Golden Hawk senior Greta Schmidt. It was totally different being here and know that this could be our last race. It was just unbelievable that we were the first team to make it onto the podium.”
Schmidt was Mid-Prairie’s third runner and finished 55th with a time of 21:07.2. Fellow senior Abby Tornow ran the fastest time of her career, 21:09.2, to finish 58th.
“The whole time, I’m thinking about how much I love cross country and how much I’ve learned through cross country and the friendships that I’ve made,” Tornow said, “and its more like a family now. That was the whole thing I was thinking of during the race, that it’s my last time to be with my family, and It’s just been an emotional day. I’m glad it ended the way that it did.”
Sophomore Kessa Jones finished 77th with a time of 21:35.7 to round out the scoring for Mid-Prairie. Freshman Kyleigh Graham finished five seconds behind in 79th with a time of 21:40.6 and fellow freshman Abbagail Evans was 95th, crossing the finish line in 22:12.6.
“That was awesome,” said Anna Hostetler of the team’s third place finish, “that’s always been a goal, to get up on the podium, so it was so exciting to do it, not just individually but also with them. We love them, they are such a blessing, so it was so fun to do it together.”