The 2013 Iowa High School Coed State Cross-Country Championships were held on Nov. 2 north of Ft. Dodge at the Lakeside Municipal Golf Course. Although the Raccoon Valley Radio listening area had no teams that challenged for state titles, two individuals stood out with third place finishes. Greene County senior Allison Higgins placed third in the four kilometers (2.48 miles) for girls in Class 2A and Perry junior Atem Akok was third in the five kilometers (3.1 miles) race for 3A boys.

Higgins was timed in 15:04.7, which was not just a personal best, but was also a school record. She also became the highest place finisher, female or male, at a state cross-country meet for a Jefferson-based program in the 32 years the program has existed.

Akok was timed in 15:57.4, and he is the highest finisher in state cross-country for the Blue Jays in the last 13 years. Coach Jeff Fox told Raccoon Valley Radio part of what makes Atem’s story so improbable is that he is a Sudanese refugee who didn’t run cross-country until last season; and even then he dropped out of the sport and briefly played football in 2012.

There were two teams from the area in the 2A girls race with Greene County finishing ninth and Panorama (Panora) fourteenth among 15 teams. For the Rams, Higgins was followed by junior Emily Christensen (49th), junior Eme Johnson (51st), freshman Olivia Hansen (52nd), junior Jolee Wessling (83rd), junior Noelle Gray (86th), and senior Kate Sandage (99th). For the Panthers, junior Hannah Appleseth was 21st in 16:01.90. She was followed by senior Karlee Johnk (43rd), sophomore KC Gafkjen (78th). freshman Maggie Smith (80th), sophomore Meredith Olson (81st), freshman Joselyn Carrillo (88th), and sophomore Mykenzie Olson (98th).

Other area runners and their places:

3A girls- Brianna Mueller, soph., ADM (Adle), 68th.

3A boys- Joshua Berger, sr., ADM, 89th.

2A girls- Sheby Henemiller, jr., West Central Valley (Stuart), 57th.

2A boys- Hunter Simmons, sr., Panorama, 69th.

1A girls- Destiny Scar, sophomore, Nodaway Valley (Greenfield), 8th; Kristen Weber, jr., Earlham, 16th.

1A boys- Brayten Funke, frosh., Nodaway Valley, 24th; Shane Breheny, frosh., Nodaway Valley, 31st; Heath Downing, soph., Nodaway Valley, 51st; Trey Thompson, jr., Ogden, 60th.

Greene County is in the Heart of Iowa Conference and Perry is a Raccoon River Conference member and both leagues had outstanding days. Boone added a boys’ 3A state team title and had the first and second place finishers with Akok third for a one-two-three sweep for the conference. The Heart of Iowa was led by Gilbert. The Tigers won the 2A girls’ team title and the boys were second in 2A. Grace Gibbons of Gilbert was the 2A individual champion and two other Tigers were in the top six, so with Higgins’ third place finish, the league went one-three-four-six. On the boys’ side, Gilbert had the second and third place finishers.

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