MANCHESTER - It’s the time of year when runners start to take their game to that next level as the conference and state qualifier meets approach, and for the Anamosa cross country program times are beginning to come down as the meets begin to heat up.

      Which is exactly the way coach Ken Sunseri had it all drawn up as the Raiders competed in their final regular season meet at West Delaware Tuesday, Oct. 8.

      “We only had four girls running at West Delaware, but that didn’t stop us from having some pretty outstanding performances,” Sunseri said. “Dakota (Bierer) just keeps getting better and better as the season goes along and she really turned in a great time. I’m not the least bit surprised by what she’s been able to accomplish the last few weeks. Actually, I was happy with everyone who competed. Liz (Riniker) ran pain free for the first time in two years and Lily (Rogers) and Emma (Dales) continue to attack the courses and put up solid times.

      “These kids just don’t quit, and that’s what is so great about them. When they’re out there, they’re giving their all and as a coach that’s all I can ask for.”

      At one of the toughest meets in the state, Bierer proved her worth placing a solid 19th overall turning in a time of 21-minutes, 55-seconds against a loaded field of runners that included four ranked in the state top-20, as well as three in the top-10.

      “The West Delaware course has always been a tough one, and our girls went out there and attacked it,” Sunseri said. “There’s always a lot of tough competition there too, and they never back down from a challenge either. It’s only going to make all of them better.”

      Riniker crossed the finish line 29th overall with a 22:21 clocking while Rogers was 57th (23:38) and Dales 74th (24:17).

      Anamosa didn’t have enough runners to compete in the team standings as class 4A 15th-ranked Western Dubuque claimed the team title scoring 62 points to edge past runner-up Grinnell, the 10th-ranked team in class 3A.

      Sunseri was also impressed with the performance from his Raider boys, who broke a barrier he knew his team was capable of doing for several weeks now.

      “We finally had four guys in the 18s in the same race,” Sunseri said. “That gives me a lot of excitement for next year and the future of this program. There is a lot of ability here, and I know these guys aren’t done yet this year either. There’s still some business they want to take care of.”

      Ben Moss, as he has all fall long, led the Anamosa boys turning in a time of 18:16.7 which was good enough to place 40th at the West Delaware meet while Kole Haverly added an 18:40.5 clocking that placed him 58th.

      Will King and Shea Keister also turned in times in the 18s crossing the finish line 61st and 66th respectively with times of 18:44.6 and 18:50.9.

      Tristan Weers (95th, 20:04.6), Drew Pate (100th, 20:18.2) and Giovanny Lopez (108th, 20:41.1) also competed for the Raiders in the varsity race.

      “Right now, the guys are running with the heads and their hearts,” Sunseri said. “The team has accomplished all the goals I’ve set out for them this season. Now it’s up to everyone to try and fulfill my dreams. And hopefully theirs too.”

      The Raider boys finished with 318 points to place 12th at the loaded 20-team meet that featured six state-ranked teams and more than a dozen state-ranked individuals.

      Class 2A top-ranked Tipton claimed the boys’ team title tallying 49 points while class 4A 14th-ranked Western Dubuque was second with 56 points.

      Anamosa defeated Vinton-Shellsburg (391), North Fayette Valley (395), Independence (485), Oelwein (487), Edgewood-Colesburg (487), Beckman (549), North Cedar (559) and Maquoketa (625).

      Sean Hollett led Raider boys competing in the JV race placing 71st overall with a time of 21:09.7 while Jacob Koopman (108th, 22:10.8), Kolin Wilmoth (126th, 23:03.2) and Nick Ralston (136th, 23:20.4).

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