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Cedar Rapids Gazette Articles


 West Girls Win Prairie Invitational by 81 Points!

 By Jeff Linder
 The Gazette
  CEDAR RAPIDS — When the Class 4A boys’ cross country cards are shuffled next time around, expect Cedar Rapids Washington to move up in the deck.
  Lewi Manirumva won the individual championship and the Warriors ran away with the team title at the Prairie Invitational meet Tuesday afternoon on the College Community Schools campus.
  “Our guys were ready to run tonight,” said Washington Coach Will Harte. “It comes down to putting in the miles, staying healthy and eating right. So far we’ve done all of that.” Apparently underrated at No. 11 in the preseason 4A rankings, Washington rolled in a meet that included No. 5 Cedar Rapids Xavier and No. 7 Iowa City West. The Warriors had four top-10 finishers and compiled 39 points, followed by Xavier (75) and West (78).
  Manirumva pulled away in the final mile and won in 16:32. Frank Canady of West was next, 13 seconds back.
  “I felt really good, and I had the strength in me,” said Manirumva, the sixth-place 4A finisher at state last year. “It was time to move.” West claimed the girls’ crown for the 12th consecutive year and did so convincingly.
The Women of Troy got a 12 finish from Nichole Engelhardt and Allison Fick, had four runners in the top six and all seven in the top 11.
  West compiled 22 points, its best score at Prairie since a 19point output in 2001. Washington was second with 103.
  Engelhardt and Fick ran in a three-girl pack with Washington’s Maddy Becker for the first half of the race. Fick surged in front, then Engelhardt passed her at the end and won in 15:33, her first career title.
  The temperature at the start of the varsity race was near 90 degrees. But, unlike last year, when several runners were hospitalized with heat exhaustion, they seemed to hold up reasonably well.
  “You have to run a little different when it’s this hot,” Engelhardt said. “You have to think conservative. If you go out too hard, you’re not going to be as strong or fresh at the end.” The Washington boys had the same philosophy, cutting short their pre-race warm-up.
  “I left it up to them,” Harte said. “I have faith in those guys. They’re strong runners and smart runners. They know what they’re doing.”,  


Junior Sara Stewart won the JV race by nine seconds over teammate Bailee Goodfellow. West's Vi Tran-Phan was 3rd for the Women of Troy. The JV team won with 19 points, ahead of 2nd place by 38 points. In the Fresh/Soph race, West's Alissa Rothman won by 31 seconds over CRK Allison Koch. All four girls from West were in the top 17.




May 02. 2008 10:20PM

West rolls to title

By Jeff Linder

IOWA CITY — Everybody else had gone home. The meet was over, but the noise continued.

"I'm just glad I get to stand in the back of this pile of girls," said Mike Parker, girls' track coach at Iowa City West. "The thing I'm going to tell them is thanks for letting me go along for the ride."

West overwhelmed the field at the Mississippi Valley Conference Mississippi Division meet last night, winning 11 events and accumulating a whopping 234 points.

And it wasn't as if the Women of Troy were competing against a bunch of chumps. Cedar Falls was the runner-up with 126 points. Iowa City High was third with 106.

"We make it look easy because we practice hard," said Kristi Schuette, who won the 800-meter run and anchored West to wins in the 3,200- and 1,600-meter relays.

West won its 34th consecutive meet, its 10th straight this season. All that remains are the regional meet next Friday and the state championships May 15-17.

Stars were aplenty. You had Schuette, who outdueled her sister Whitney in the 800 and held off City High's Kelly Krei to finish the 1,600 relay.

"Kelly's good," Schuette said. "I decided I'd had enough of her coming back to beat me by a half-second all the time. I told myself it wasn't happening today."

You had Jessica Gehrke, who won the long jump and anchored an upset win over Cedar Falls' Drake Relays-winning 400 relay unit.

"I've been running against (Cedar Falls') Faith (Burt) since I was 7, and this was the first time I'd ever beaten her," Gehrke said.

There was Taylor Freeman, who swept the throws, including an MVC-record 153-4 in the discus. That broke her record of 149-10 set last year.

There was Nichole Engelhardt, who paced West to 1-2 finishes in the 3,000 and 1,500.

"We definitely wanted to start it off with major points right off the bat in the 3,000," Engelhardt said. "It's all about getting those points."

And there were others, far too many to mention, who contributed in ways big and small. After all, 234 points is a mammoth number.

And it led to a crescendo of noise afterward.

City High had its moments — most notably, wins by Krei (400), Mariah Jordan (100 hurdles) and its sprint medley relay. But West, with its depth and overall strength, was too much for the field.

Cedar Falls won five events, led by Burt in the 100 and 200. West, Cedar Falls and City accounted for all 19 of the event winners.


April 29. 2008 11:37PM

West wins again

CEDAR RAPIDS — As long asMike Parker is coaching and somebody is keeping score, Iowa City West will compete to beat you.

"I heard another coach say that every meet before their conference meet is a glorified practice," Parker said. "That about made my stomach drop to my feet.

"Every time somebody else wants to measure themselves against us, we take it seriously, whether it's the state meet or the Prairie Relays."

Last night was the Prairie Relays. The Women of Troy took it seriously and won their 33rd straight meet. West won 10 events, including all four field events, and accumulated 190 points at John Wall Field. Iowa City High was second with 129. Cedar Rapids Prairie was third with 77.

"Our history obviously is pretty good. To keep that going means a lot," said Dani Freeman, who held off Linn-Mar's Courtney Johnson to anchor West to victory in the 1,600-meter relay. "We don't want to end that streak."

Another Freeman, Taylor (they're unrelated), set the evening's only meet record, resetting her mark in the discus with a fling of 151 feet, 6 inches. She also won the shot put at 43-5.

The Women of Troy, two-time defending Class 4A state champions, used "a different lineup than you'll ever see again," according to Parker, three days before they chase a Mississippi Valley Conference divisional title at City High.

They got a 1-2 finish in the shot put and the 200 and scored 58 field-event points.

City High won five events, led by Ashley Wilkinson, who edged Cedar Rapids Washington's Maddy Halyard by one-hundredth of a second in the 100-meter dash and anchored the Little Hawks to victory in the 800-meter relay.

Metro winners were Audrey Ternus of Prairie in the 400 and Xavier's Meaghan Nelson in the 1,500. Xavier captured the distance medley relay and Linn-Mar won the sprint medley relay.


April 26. 2008 12:24AM

Iowa City West's Freeman wins third title

By Jeff Linder

DES MOINES — Taylor Freeman was in a bit of a bind.

The two-time defending champion in the Drake Relays girls' discus, she needed a quality effort on her third throw Friday just to reach the finals.

"I usually try to stay as calm as possible. I don't want to get angry," said Freeman, a senior at Iowa City West.

"I got a little bit of jitters (before my third throw), but it turned out all right."

Freeman's play-it-safe, no-spin effort on her final preliminary toss not only got her to the finals, it vaulted her into the lead. Then she improved on that effort in the finals with a throw of 139 feet, 6 inches, to capture her third consecutive championship.

Even at less than her best, Freeman dominated. She had the four best throws of the competition and won by nearly 16 feet over runner-up Becca Fischer of Sheldon.

"I love it. I couldn't ask for more," she said.

A University of Arizona recruit, Freeman was third at Drake as a freshman. She followed with three white-flag performances.

This one came with some white-knuckle moments early. Her first throw was 108-11. She fouled the second throw. Instead of a windup on her third toss, Freeman simply stood in the circle and flung the disc, which traveled 129-10.

Her best throw was her first throw in the finals.

Faith Burt of Cedar Falls reclaimed the 100-meter title after losing it last year.

Burt won it in 12.36 seconds, edging Callan Jacobson of Benton Community (12.43).

The Drake 100 champion in 2005 and 2006, Burt settled for third last year behind Gretchen Lamar and Jacobson.

The 100 was run shortly after a cold front moved through Des Moines. The temperature dropped from 63 degrees to 46 between 10 a.m. and noon.

"I warmed up a lot in the (Drake) Field House more than I usually do," Jacobson said. "I felt better prepared for the race. (The cold) wasn't a shock or anything. I had good control of my stride, my form and everything."

North Tama's Blaire Dinsdale was denied at the wire in the 800 meters for the second straight year. Waukee's Colette Gnade kicked to victory in 2:14.09. Dinsdale was next in 2:14.61.

"I've raced her twice this year now, and I knew she has been working really hard on her finish," Dinsdale said.

Dinsdale's twin, Brooke — the 2006 Drake champion — was boxed in early and finished eighth.

Gnade anchored Waukee to the sprint medley relay title earlier in the day.

Jennifer Jorgensen of Southeast Webster joined Freeman as a three-time field-event champion, leaping 18 feet, 3 1/2 inches in the long jump.

Jessica Gehrke of Iowa City West was third at 17-9 1/4.

A.G. Bradford of Davenport North was the 100-meter hurdles champion, in 14.24 seconds.


April 23. 2008 9:41PM

Iowa City West prepares for Drake field test

By Jeff Linder

DES MOINES — From a high school perspective, many of thehighlights from this year's Drake Relays will be held off the track.

"Well it is called track ... and field," said Brian Martz, boys' coach at Iowa City West.

And West has more than a mild foothold in the field.

For instance:

l Aaron Martin and Jessica Gehrke have posted the state's best effort in the boys' and girls' long jump. Martin has soared 22 feet, 9 1/4 inches, Gehrke 18-9 3/4.

l Taylor Freeman is the defending champion in the girls' discus and is favored to repeat. She figures to be a factor in the shot put.

l Thomas Reynolds is seeded No. 2 in the boys' discus and No. 3 in the shot put.

"We have the philosophy here of being a full-fledged team," said Mike Parker, whose girls' team is the two-time defending Class 4A state champion. "We're not trying to fill 15 running events. We're trying to fill all 19 events, track and field.

"Some schools, it's probably not cool to be a thrower. At our school, it's not only cool, but it's unbelievably competitive."

The boys' discus and long jump and the girls' shot put and high jump are this afternoon. The girls' discus and long jump and boys' shot put and high jump are Friday morning.

West has more than its share of field-event stars. But not a monopoly. Marion junior Drew Clark has a shot put season-best of 60 feet, the best in the state.

"There should be a lot of guys up there," he said. "It should be some good competition. It will probably take upper 50s or 60 feet to win it. The added competition will get everyone excited."

Clark was 11th in the Drake shot put last year (the top 10 all have graduated), and has improved sharply. He's stronger and attended a couple camps in the off-season to enhance his technique.

Seniors Colten Kelly of Anamosa and Jared Kuehner of Center Point-Urbana were second and third in the Drake high jump last year. Both cleared 6 feet, 5 inches. So did Noah Kittleson of Indianola, who won the championship based on fewer misses.

Kelly cleared 6-7 Monday at Delhi.

Freeman and Reynolds are the latest in a line of outstanding throwers at West. A University of Arizona signee, Freeman set the Drake girls' discus record (151-1) last year. The 2007 girls' shot put champ, Danica Haight, is a West alum and a Michigan freshman.

"Our younger girls want to be around kids like Taylor," Parker said. "She's a training maniac."

Parker had Gehrke tabbed as a high jump prospect last year. As it turned out, she was more suited for horizontal leaps than vertical.

"She's still got a lot to learn, and that's good news," Parker said. "If she gets her foot on the board, she can go 19 feet this year.

"She is on track to becoming our next great one."

April 18. 2008 11:40PM

West sweeps Forwald/Coleman titles

By Nick Richards
News Correspondent

IOWA CITY — The balance of power in boys and girls track still resides on Iowa City's west side.

Iowa City West won the boys and girls competitions last night in a soggy 36th Forwald/Coleman Relays at City High. The Women of Troy won handily, amassing 222 points to City High's 129 1/2, and the boys used their depth in the field events to beat City High, 161-119 1/2.

West did what it does best in both divisions — use balance to overwhelm opponents. At one point, West senior Aaron Martin ran in the 800-meter relay then had to get to the long jump pit for his final jump. His final leap was 21 feet, 9 1/4 inches to win the event.

"The seniors, the captains, are doing three or four events, and they're the kind of kids that you have no doubt they'll step out there, and they'll be ready to go," said sprint and hurdles coach Neil Davis. "It sets such a nice example to see those captains doing that, and you have young athletes, ninth and 10th graders, thinking, 'well, that's what you do.'"

Not that City High performed poorly.

The boys kept the race close for most of the night. Calvin Simmons won the 3,200, pulling away from a five-man pack with three laps to go to win by more than ten seconds. Kevin Dibbern won the 200 over West's Alonzo Markham and ran second in the 100 to Des Moines East's Dorian Minter by .02 seconds. The Little Hawks won the 1,600 medley.

"We really stepped forward in many events. We're moving in the right direction," City High Coach Tom Carey said. "I think what's encouraging is that we're moving forward. We are closing some gaps in some areas that we really were hoping to."

Dibbern ran in three of the night's best races. He came from behind to defeat Markham in the 200, pumping his fist as he beat his West counterpart across the line. He anchored the winning 1,600 relay team in the night's last race, again holding off Markham.

"He's got a big chip on his shoulder this year, and it's great," Carey said. "He's such a nice guy, and you never know when nice guys have a lot of talent how it's going to go, but he operates with a chip on his shoulder."

He was less fortunate against Minter in the 100.

"I got out-leaned at the end," Dibbern said. "That was a really good race by him, though."

Linn-Mar's Jon Rehnstrom won the high jump at 6 feet, and senior Zach Braff won the 800 meters in 1:56.26.

There was an excellent battle in the girls shot put.

Danille Frere of Muscatine won at 44-11, followed by the West duo of Micaela Haight (44-2) and Taylor Freeman (44-1 1/2).

City's Ashley Wilkinson won the 100 in 12.60, West's Jessica Gehrke the 200 in 25.81, City's Kelly Krei the 400 in 58.10, and West's Whitney Schuette the 800 in 2:24.89 West won two relays (400, distance medley), as did City High (1,600, sprint medley.

March 26th, 2008

Kennedy's Erickson surprise winner in 400

By Jeff Linder

CEDAR FALLS — Who needs height? Nicole Erickson had heart.

Erickson, a senior at Cedar Rapids Kennedy, surprised a star-studded field to win the 400-meter dash at the Dickinson girls' indoor state track and field championships Tuesday at the UNI-Dome.

"You look at the Dinsdale twins (from North Tama) and you look at (Hannah Willms of Dike-New Hartford), and they're so tall," said Erickson, who, at 5-foot-4, stands a good half-foot shorter than all three of them. "It's intimidating.

"But when you get down to it, height doesn't matter if you've got the heart to win the race."

And the legs to come from behind. Erickson chased down Willms to win in 58.46 seconds. Willms was clocked in 58.52. Blaire Dinsdale and Brooke Dinsdale were third and fifth.

Erickson started the race in Lane 5, outside the Dinsdales but inside Willms.

"I expected them to be coming up beside me from the inside, but when they didn't, I kicked it in even further," said Erickson, who placed third in the 200. "I've been training really hard all winter, and I knew I'd be in better shape than most everybody."

Team scores are not compiled at the state indoor. If they were, there would be little doubt where the power resides. Iowa City West and Cedar Falls were dominant.

Led by its winning 3,200-meter relay, West finished in the top three in six events.

"We have a standard and it's our standard. It has nothing to do with anyone else," said West Coach Mike Parker. "We ran OK, but some of our second places could have, should have and hopefully will become first places down the road."

Kristi Schuette and Nichole Engelhardt completed the 3,200-meter relay with a pair of 2:25 splits, and the Women of Troy won the race in 9:52.96.

Whitney Schuette and Elise Walz ran the first two legs. Kristi Schuette received the baton in third place, then moved West to the lead for good.

"I knew there were a few girls I had to catch," she said. "(Parker) kept yelling, 'One at a time.' I didn't want to slow down."

Engelhardt got passed — and a little panicky — but the two girls who ran by her were merely lapped traffic.

"I tried to go with those girls, I thought they were ahead of me. But Coach told me it was OK, we were still in first place," Engelhardt said.

West's Jessica Gehrke set a school record (18-5 1/4) in the long jump in a runner-up finish to Southeast Webster's Jennifer Jorgensen.

Taylor Freeman was the shot put runner-up; the 800- and 1,600-meter relay teams also finished second.

Callan Jacobson of Benton Community was second in the 200, third in the 60.

In both races, Cedar Falls' Faith Burt set UNI-Dome girls' records. Burt also anchored Cedar Falls' winning 400-meter relay.

"She's just a great runner," said Jacobson, whose 25.74 clocking was better than the time she ran in winning the 200 last year. "My starts were better than they've been, and I'm still not in my best shape yet."

Blaire Dinsdale was second to Colette Gnade of Waukee in the 800.

Before Erickson's shocking win, a pair of third-place finishes were the Metro's highlights of the day.

Allie Ziskovsky of Cedar Rapids Prairie was third in the shot. And Cedar Rapids Xavier earned the bronze in the 800 relay.

Emily Whitters, Jill Cooper, Tyler Sampson and Emily Ries were clocked in 1:48.99.

"We all run different events, and we came together to make this relay," Ries said. "We know we have the ability to do something great."

n Contact the writer: (319) 368-8857 or




Tuesday, March 4, 2008

West High girls track team has

a record-setting meet

The West High girls track team enjoyed its trip to Dubuque Monday, setting five meet records at the Loras College Indoor.

"This meet has been here since 1982, so we're very pleased to break that many," West coach Mike Parker said. "Especially under the training circumstance we've been under, I'm so proud and pleased how we started off."

Jessica Gehrke set a meet and school record with a long jump of 18 feet, 3 inches. She also won the open 50 and 300.

Nicole Engelhardt set the record in the 1,000 in 3:18.14, and Taylor Freeman set the mark in the shot put with a toss of 42 feet, 6 inches.

The 4x450 and 4x750 teams also set new records. The strange distances are because of the 150-meter indoor track at Loras.

Overall, West won 11 of 15 events.

Loras College Indoor

No team scores were kept.

West top three

50 -- 1. Jessica Gehrke 7.17; 2. Chloe Hoagland 7.33; 3. Katie Kelly 7.40.

300 -- 1. Gehrke 45.42.

400 -- 1. Dani Freeman 1:06.01; 2. Kalee Schilling 1:06.32; 3. Hadiza Sa-Aadu 1:07.55.

600 -- 2. Anna Murray 1:56.24.

800 -- 1. Elise Walls 1:79.33; 2. Taylor Fehlberg 1:39.77.

1,000 -- 1. Nicole Engelhardt 3:18.14 (meet record).

3,000 -- 1. Allison Fick 11:25.76.

50 hurdles -- 2. Brooke Ludvicek 8.57; 3. Natalie Mason 8.62.

4x300 -- 2. West (Tiffany Ross, Mariah Hinton, Kayla Brooks, Amy McCurdy) 3:17.85.

4x450 -- 1. West (Sa-Aadu, Freeman, Schilling, Kristi Schuette) 5:16.19 (meet record).

4x750 -- 1. West (Walls, Murray, Schuette, Engelhardt) 9:36.15 (meet record).

Long jump -- 1. Gehrke 18-3 (meet record, school record); 3. Sami Hansen 15-10.

High jump -- 1. Lauren Nierman 5-1.

Shot put -- 1. Taylor Freeman 42-6 (meet record); 2. Micaela Haight 41-4; 3. Courtney Fritz 34-9.



 West wins Iowa City battle

 Girls’ team edges defending champ Iowa City High

 By Jeff Linder

 The Gazette

  MARION — A disappointment last season. A mystery in August.
  And now, a pleasant surprise.
  Iowa City West proved that it’s back among the state’s elite girls’ cross country programs, edging two-time defending state champion Iowa City High to win the title at the Mississippi Valley Conference meet Thursday afternoon at the Tuma Soccer Complex.
  ‘‘We definitely came here racing to win,’’ said junior Allison Fick, the individual runner-up.
  ‘‘This was the goal we had in mind.’’
  West edged City, 40-43, for its second triumph over the Little Hawks in three races this season. City High ran away with the Class 4A state title last year while West was an uncharacteristic sixth.
  ‘‘I’m very proud of our girls,’’ West Coach Mike Parker said. ‘‘(City) is a great team. All three of our races against them have been very close. If we’re even slightly off, we’re not going to beat them.’’
  Cedar Falls claimed the boys’ title with 60 points. West was second with 71 behind the 1-2 finish of Obsa Taddese and Brady Fritz.
  Taddese and girls’ individual champ Meaghan Nelson ran virtually the same race, pulling away in the final mile.
  Nelson, the defending 3A titlist, ran even with Fick for much of the girls’ race, then won going away in 14:56. Fick was clocked in 15:24.
‘‘I was trying to push the second lap,’’ Nelson said. ‘‘Gradually, I think, I was getting faster.’’
  As you would expect in a soccer complex, the Tuma course is as flat as a grassy tabletop.
  ‘‘It’s not like a true cross country course,’’ Nelson said. ‘‘It’s not too bad as long as you stay focused. A lot of people said they got bored.’’ Nelson didn’t.
  ‘‘I tried not to think about it,’’ she said.
  The boys’ lead pack was three for a good share of the race, but Taddese shed City High’s Calvin Simmons around the two-mile mark, then lost Fritz a little later. Taddese finished in 16:27, Fritz in 16:36.
  ‘‘By the time there was a quarter-mile left, I just went,’’ Taddese said. ‘‘I’m happy, but I’d have been happier if we’d won.’’
  Cedar Falls won despite a 1-2-6 finish by West’s frontrunners. Each of the Tigers’ five scorers finished in the top 20.
  Lewi Manirumva of Cedar Rapids Washington was the best Metro boys’ finisher. He was fourth. The Warriors were fourth in both team competitions.
  Through the past decade, the pendulum in the WestCity rivalry in girls’ cross country and track has swung back and forth. Last fall, it was firmly on City’s side. Now it’s a virtual stalemate with three weeks remaining until the state meet.
Parker didn’t know what he had in August — ‘‘I barely know all of their names,’’ he joked at the Cedar Rapids Prairie Invitational. He does now.

We definitely came here racing to win.

 Allison Fick

 Iowa City West runner


 Iowa City West girls rule in C.R.

  By Jeff Linder
 The Gazette
  CEDAR RAPIDS — Call it retro training. The Iowa City West girls are going back to the ’90s.
  ‘‘I think I got too wrapped up in the number of miles that girls from other teams were doing the last couple years, and we were trying to keep up,’’ said West Coach Mike Parker. ‘‘This summer, we went with less miles and more quality.’’
  Quality miles made for a quality performance Thursday afternoon. West, coming off its worst state finish (sixth place) of the Parker era, turned some heads by shocking defending Class 4A state champion Iowa City High and winning the girls’ championship of the Cedar Rapids Invitational cross country meet at Noelridge Park.
  ‘‘Definitely, this is big excitement,’’ said Nichole Engelhardt, who led the Women of Troy with a sixth-place finish. ‘‘This is what we came here to do.
  ‘‘We’re definitely a different team. We’ve been doing different workouts. We’re not going down any farther this season. We’re coming back up.’’
  West accumulated 67 points, City High 74. Ames was third with 90.
  Defending 4A state champ Pleasant Valley ruled the boys’ competition. Led by a 12 finish from Devin Allbaugh and Blake Irwin, the Spartans finished with 36 points. West was next with 93, followed by Cedar Rapids Washington (119) and Cedar Rapids Xavier (128).
  Parker came to West in the late 1990s and immediately turned the Women of Troy into a state power. He has reverted somewhat to his old workouts of shorter, faster mileage.
  Kelsey Regan of Davenport North was the individual champion, leading from wire to wire and finishing in 14:54. Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Meaghan Nelson closed hard in the second half of the race and was the runner-up in 15:01. Engelhardt and teammate Allison Fick were sixth and seventh.


August 28th, 2007

West Girls Run to Top
 5 athletes sent to hospitals with heat-related illness
 By Jeff Linder
 The Gazette
CEDAR RAPIDS — It was the first meet of the season. Some competitors were running their first race. Many others were far from midseason race condition.
  And it was hot. And humid. Those factors played a role
 as five athletes were transported from the Cedar Rapids Prairie Invitational cross country meet to area hospitals via ambulance Tuesday with heat-related illness.
  Condition reports were not available last night.About 35 to 40 others received medical attention on site, according to Prairie Athletics Director Rocky Bennett. ‘‘We were ready,’’ Bennett said. ‘‘We covered all the bases. We had water stations on the course. We had the safety precautions we needed to the nth degree.’’This had happened before. At the 2000 Prairie invite, five runners overheated and were taken to the hospital. That time, the meet was halted midway through. This time, it was run to its conclusion through a temperature of 88 and a heat index of 97.
  Bob Ugarph, paramedic for the Cedar Rapids Area Ambulance, recommended about 6 p.m. to stop the meet, but it continued. ‘‘I just made the recommendation from a medical standpoint,’’ Ugarph said.
  Bennett met with coaches at 4 p.m. and left it up to each team whether or not to compete.
  ‘‘They had the choice to get back on the bus, turn around and go home,’’ he said.
  All teams stayed.
  ‘‘It was hot, but in our summer runs, we ran at 5 o’clock and it was just as hot,’’ said Cedar Rapids Xavier boys’ coach Andy Kauder, whose team edged Iowa City West on a tie-breaker for the title. ‘‘We were used to running in the heat, but we weren’t used to running this hard in the heat.’’
  Aaron May, the Saints’ top runner (he finished third), was one of the runners taken via ambulance.
  ‘‘He’ll be fine,’’ Kauder said. ‘‘He was hurting pretty bad, but he was cracking jokes before the JV race.’’
  Xavier and West scored 56 points apiece, but the Saints won the title because their No. 6 runner beat his counterpart from West.
  Brady Fritz of West emerged from a large pack to pull away in the second half of the race to win in 16:51. Cedar Rapids Washington’s Lewi Manirumva was second, five seconds back.
  Xavier’s Meaghan Nelson also ruled the back half of the race. The defending 3A state champion won it in 15:35, 25 seconds ahead of West’s Allison Fick.
  ‘‘I pulled ahead on a hill (at the back of the course). That’s where most runners slow down, and that’s where my coach (Brian Ernst) told me to work it,’’ Nelson said. ‘‘After that, I kept widening the gap.’’
  As for the heat?
  ‘‘I tried not to think about it,’’ Nelson said. ‘‘If you don’t think about it, hopefully it won’t affect you.’’
  West placed all five scorers in the top 11 and won the girls’ title with 33 points. Cedar Falls was second with 46.
  ‘‘I’m shocked,’’ said West girls’ coach Mike Parker. ‘‘We finished sixth at state last year, and that’s the lowest we’ve been since I’ve been here. The kids are determined to get back to where they were.’’
  Parker told his team to run hard, but with caution, in the heat.
  ‘‘They just needed to know what they could do and couldn’t do,’’ he said. ‘‘If they needed to stop, I told them to stop and walk. We brought 30 girls, and 30 of them got through it fine.’’