Clippers Chasing First Ever WAMAC Cross Country Title

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Photo by Jeff Yoder

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

The weather will finally feel like fall just in time for the cross country postseason.

After several weeks of heat, humid and widespread ran the forecast for the next few weeks calls for cool and dry conditions.

Dry at least in terms of moisture falling from the sky. Cross Country courses around the state will likely be plenty sloppy on Thursday as many conference meets kick off the championship season that ends with state cross country meet on October 27 in Fort Dodge.

Wet conditions from several rounds of rain over the last several weeks forced the cancellation of the River Valley Conference meet set for Thursday at Kickers Soccer Complex in Iowa City.

Here is a look at the rest of the boys conference cross country meets set for Thursday.

Mississippi Valley Conference Valley Divisional Meet 

When: Thursday, 4:55 p.m.

Where: Jones Park in Cedar Rapids

Teams: West High, Liberty High, Dubuque Hempstead, Dubuque Wahlert, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Linn-Mar, Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Waterloo West

Defending Team Champ: West High won the Mississippi Division last season

Ranked Teams: 4A No. 2 Dubuque Hempstead; 4A No. 13 Cedar Rapids Kennedy; 3A No. 7 Dubuque Wahlert

Ranked Individuals: 4A No. 5 Jacob Green, Jr., Cedar Rapids Kennedy; 4A No. 10 Dylan Dolezal, Jr. Linn-Mar; 4A No. 15 Ben Hermiston, Sr., Dubuque Hempstead; 23. Ryan Winger, Soph., Dubuque Hempstead; 24. David Holesinger, Sr., Dubuque Hempstead

Team title chase: Dubuque Hempstead won the Super Meet title last Thursday by 34 points and is a heavy favorite to add a divisional title to is MVC haul.

The Mustangs depth will likely be the deciding factor with Cedar Rapids Kennedy, West High and Dubuque Wahlert battling for the runner-up spot.

Athlete to watch: Cedar Rapids Kennedy junior Jacob Green was runner-up at the Super Meet last week and will be one of the favorites if West High senior Kolby Greiner misses the meet with the injury that kept him from finishing at the Super Meet a week ago.

Breakdown: West High will be hard pressed to defend its divisional title from a year ago especially without Greiner who is one of the top runners in the state when healthy.

It will be up to the rest of the Trojans to step up as West High is still capable of a top-half finish.

Liberty High makes its divisional debut after placing 11th at the Super Meet last week in its first ever conference meet appearance.

Mississippi Valley Conference Mississippi Divisional Meet

When: Friday, 5 p.m.

Where: Dubuque Soccer Complex

Teams: City High, Cedar Falls, Dubuque Senior, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Cedar Rapids Washington, Western Dubuque, Cedar Rapids Xavier

Defending Team Champ: Cedar Rapids Prairie won the Valley Division last season

Ranked Teams: 4A No. 6 Cedar Rapids Prairie; 4A No. 8 Cedar Rapids Washington; 4A No. 10 Cedar Falls

Ranked Individuals: 4A No. 2 Jack Pendergast, Jr. Cedar Rapids Prairie; 4A No. 14 Brandon Conrad, Sr., Cedar Falls; 4A No. 29 Max Locher, Jr., Cedar Rapids Washington; 4A No. 30 Isaiah Schaetzel, Jr., Dubuque Senior; 3A No. 25. Jack Renning, Jr., Cedar Rapids Xavier

Team title chase: The divisions have changed this season but Cedar Rapids Prairie remains a favorite to win a division crown.

The Hawks won the Valley Division title a year ago and are a slight favorite to claim the divisional meet with Cedar Rapids Washington and Cedar Falls in hot pursuit.

City High was ninth at the Super Meet and will push for a top half finish on Friday.

Athlete to watch: Fresh off a title at the Super Meet last week Cedar Rapids Prairie junior Jack Pendergast will look to build momentum heading into next week’s districts meet.

Pendergast won the Super meet title by nearly seven seconds over Kennedy’s Jacob Green and is a heavy favorite to claim another individual title.

Breakdown: Pendergast is the second-ranked runner in 4A and should have his way in the individual race but the team race will likely remain tight. Prairie finished 20 points clear of Cedar Rapids Washington at the Super Meet with Cedar Falls 16 points back of the Warriors.

City High has a way of peaking in the postseason and the Little Hawks will look to begin that ascent this week.

WAMAC Meet

When: Thursday, 4:35 p.m.

Where: South Tama High School

Teams: Clear Creek Amana, Solon, South Tama, Williamsburg, Marion, Maquoketa, Independence, West Delaware, Dyersville Beckman, Vinton-Shellsburg, Benton Community, Mount Vernon, Center Point-Urbana, Central DeWitt

Defending Team Champ: Mount Vernon-Lisbon

Ranked Teams: 3A No. 2 Clear Creek Amana; 3A No. 4 Marion; 3A No. 13 Mount Vernon-Lisbon; 2A No. 9 Williamsburg

Ranked Individuals: 3A No. 10 Luke Post, Center Point-Urbana; 3A No. 14 Nick O’Connor, Jr., Clear Creek Amana; 3A No. 17 Jack Sexton, Jr., Clear Creek Amana; 3A No. 23 Harrison Vanderlinden, Sr., Marion; 3A No. 29 Brandon Barker, Soph., Clear Creek Amana

Team title chase: Clear Creek Amana has been steadily climbing the WAMAC ladder for years and the Clippers are poised to go higher than they ever have before this season.

Last season the Clippers placed third at the WAMAC meet, the best finish in program history. This season the first WAMAC title is well within reach for second-ranked Clear Creek Amana which enters as a slight favorite over Marion for the team title.

Defending champion Mount Vernon-Lisbon always seems to work its way into the title mix.

Athlete to watch: It has been a breakthrough season already for Clear Creek Amana Jack Sexton who will attempt to translate that success into the postseason starting on Thursday.

Sexton has been impressive this season running in front of the CCA pack but finished behind teammate Nick O’Connor at the North Linn Invite on Saturday.

O’Connor and Sexton could battle for the individual title on Thursday along with Marion senior Harrison Vanderlinden and Center Point-Urbana’s Luke Post.

Breakdown: Just 11 points separated the top three teams last season with the fourth-place finisher way in the rearview mirror.

It may be a two-team race this season between Marion and Clear Creek Amana.

The two programs are plenty familiar with each other.

Marion edged Clear Creek Amana early at the Bob Brown Invite with the Clippers emphatically taking the most recent head-to-head matchup last Saturday at North Linn.

Clear Creek Amana’s depth could be the deciding factor.

The Clippers three ranked runners, Sexton, O’Connor and sophomore Brandon Barker along with senior Cole Liebe all have the ability to push to the front of the pack, a luxury shared by no other WAMAC team.