South Hardin girls score narrow win over rated rivals

COLO – “No pressure, no diamonds.”

That’s the motto printed on South Hardin’s team shirts this season and the Tigers embraced that message Monday.

Ousting a pair of ranked teams to claim the Class B division title, South Hardin took an important step in their pursuit toward Fort Dodge in the Nevada Invite at Hickory Grove Park.

South Hardin totaled 77 points to eke out a win over Class 1A No. 8 South Hamilton (81) and Class 2A No. 6 East Marshall (86).

Class 2A No. 20 ranked Claire Damon triggered the Tigers with a runner-up finish in 16 minutes, 58 seconds, while Haley Fye of East Marshall topped the field in 16:53.

“I just told everyone to go out and run their race. I don’t care how they do as long as they give 100 percent,” said Damon.

“I really want to make sure all of us end up in Fort Dodge.”

A few Tigers wore their team shirts at the awards ceremony, a fitting reminder to the squad for the effort involved in the victory.

“It’s kind of a metaphor for this year,” said Damon.

“You really can’t make diamonds without any pressure. On the sports front, you can’t do well in the races unless you have the high pressure on you. It doesn’t really count until you have the high pressure meets.”

The Tigers rose to the occasion as Megan Carr took sixth in 17:23, while Lydia Rose was 13th, Miquela Teske was 18th and Kylee Zoskee completed the team score in 38th.

Fye was joined by a pair of Mustangs in the top-10 as Kristen Amendt (17:32) and Bobbi Amendt (17:40) tallied seventh and eighth.

That trio, along with Carrington Curphy in 25th, worked together through the first mile before Fye stretched her lead with the front pack.

“We didn’t really plan it, we just knew we wanted to stay together,” said Fye of the Mustang pack.

“At the end I just powered up the hills, because I’m strong on those.”

Becca Steckelberg kept her pace going to claim fourth, while the Comets took seventh (151).

“I’m starting to get into the mindset that you don’t have to slow down,” said Steckelberg.

“I get tired sometimes because I think, ‘Oh, I’ve run a mile so I can let back.’ I’ve been trying to stay up with the front of the pack and keep up that pace. Today I tried not to lose sight of the frontrunners.”

Amelia Tonner added a 16th place tally and Jenna Willett was 23rd for the Comets.

West Marshall (212) finished 10th, followed by Colo-NESCO (281).

Allison Hilleman guided the Trojans in 21st and GMG’s Natalie Smith came through in 42nd one spot ahead of Colo-NESCO’s Grace Stalzer.

Gilbert’s Grace Gibbons, the top rated runner in Class 2A, won the Class A race in 15:16.

Class 3A No. 1 Abby-Kohut Jackson of Ballard was second in 15:25.

No. 4 ranked Gilbert cruised to the win with 38 points, holding off Winterset (60) and Class 3A No. 9 Grinnell (93).

South Tama County’s Taylor Ellenbecker powered the Trojans with an 18th place finish in 17:51.

STC took eighth overall with a score of 208.

Ellenbecker got going after a slow start from the entire field, but didn’t have quite the finish she was looking for.

“I was pretty shocked on how slow the first mile was,” said Ellenbecker.

“I felt pretty good in the beginning but at the end I had nothing left in me to finish. Other than that, it was a pretty good race.”