MANCHESTER - For Anamosa seniors Liz Riniker, Lily Rogers and Natalie Hersom, Manchester brings back special memories as the spot the Raider girls earned the program’s first-ever team berth to the state cross country meet three years ago.
The trio were back in form again Tuesday, Oct. 6, leading the Anamosa girls to an outstanding performance at the annual West Delaware Invitational.
“I can officially say that we now have a full-functioning running program here at Anamosa,” said Raider cross country coach Ken Sunseri, as his girls scored 196 points to place a solid seventh against the 14-team field.
“From middle school all the way through the high school girls’ and boys’ teams, we have runners who are competitive no matter where we go, and to be able to compete at a meet like this one at West Delaware just shows how far we’ve come this season.”
Leading that charge for the Anamosa girls was Riniker, who earned a medal with a 25th-place finish turning in a time of 22-minutes, 5.9-seconds.
“Liz had a solid race and ran the course very smart,” Sunseri said. “To see her earn a medal at a race like this one with all the talented runners she was going against says a lot about the ability she has. We’ve still got some big races ahead yet this year and I know Liz still has great things to come at the conference and state qualifying meets. It’s going to be fun to watch her go out and battle for a spot at state, she’s good enough to get there.”
Rogers was right on Riniker’s heels most of the race just missing a medal by placing 32nd with a 22:35.8 clocking.
“At some point Lily might make the decision to pass Liz, but I’m not sure Liz will allow it,” Sunseri said. “Both of those girls are so competitive and they push each other to get better at each and every practice and in each and every meet. It’s good for them and good for the team.”
Ashlynn Brown was also among the top-40 individuals placing 39th overall with a time of 22:57.4 while Hersom was 45th after her 23:25.2 effort.
“From where we were at the start of the season to where we are now is like night and day,” Sunseri said. “These kids have worked so hard and have given themselves a chance at qualifying for state, both the girls’ and boys’ teams. We’ve got some work to do over the next couple of weeks, and you can be sure these kids are going to do it to try and make it to Fort Dodge.”
Leah Sleep was fifth on the Anamosa girls’ team and 73rd overall turning in a time of 24:39.4 while Emma Dales (89th, 27:24.2) and Ashlynn Garrett (90th, 27:24.8) ran together and rounded out the Raider scoring.
Western Dubuque claimed the team title in Manchester scoring a mere 58 points while Tipton was second tallying 83 points.
The Raider girls defeated Cascade (243 points), West Delaware (255), Beckman (264), Oelwein (275), Cedar Rapids Xavier (281), Independence (294) and Vinton-Shellsburg (349).
It wasn’t just the Anamosa girls turning heads in Manchester as well, as the Raider boys placed ninth against the 17-team field scoring 233 points led by a phenomenal performance from Shea Keister.
“Shea just keeps getting better and better, and he’s only going to get better, too,” said Sunseri, as his star sophomore, like Riniker, earned a medal with a 17th-place finish crossing the finish line with a time of 17:50.6, and defeating several state-ranked runners in the process.
“Shea even got stuck early on in the race and that cost him some time, but after getting free of that jam he went out and finished very strong. We’re going to make sure that he doesn’t get stuck again over these next two races at conference and the state qualifier.”
Drew Pate also medaled at the meet coming in 28th with an 18:15.5 clocking while Kole Haverly was 43rd turning in a time of 18:45.
Gio Lopez (70th, 19:44.9), Jack Troester (77th, 19:56.1), Tristan Weers (87th, 20:17.5) and Grayson Weers (95th, 20:53.7) rounded out the Anamosa boys’ effort.
The boys’ meet was loaded with state-ranked programs, topped by champion and class 3A sixth-ranked Center Point-Urbana who scored 84 points to edge class 2A second-ranked Tipton (87) by three points for the title.
Class 3A seventh-ranked Mount Vernon-Lisbon was third tallying 104 points while the Raiders defeated Cedar Rapids Xavier (234), 1A 14th-ranked Cascade (257), Oelwein (318), Vinton-Shellsburg (339), Isaac Newton Christian (357), Alburnett (421), Beckman (453) and Independence (489).
“The boys ran a great race too, without a doubt,” Sunseri said. “And like the girls, their future is so bright. There’s a lot to look forward to with Anamosa cross country, and I think everyone showed that with their performances in Manchester.”
Mickala Herrick (64th, 28:28.6) and Jaiden Peasley (88th, 31:08.9) represented the Anamosa girls in the JV race while Andrew King (47th, 21:17.5), Sean Hollett (82nd, 22:25.5), Skylar Hollett (109th, 23:47.1) and Ike Claussen-Tubbs (25:22.8) took to the West Delaware course for the Raiders in the JV boys’ race.