SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The Iowa Lakes cross country team ran at the Nike Heartland Preview in Sioux Falls this past Saturday.
Competing against mostly four-year schools, the Laker runners received a good workout.
"It offered us some great competition and gives the athletes a chance to see how they compare to junior and seniors in college," said Iowa Lakes coach Molly Struve.
Estherville Lincoln Central alum Melissa Gjerde runs for the Iowa Lakes Cross Country Team.
Leah Courtney led the Laker women with a sixth-place finish in 19 minutes, 47 seconds over the 5K course.
"Leah dropped her time from two weeks ago by a minute, which is really difficult to do in that short of time," said Struve. "She finished sixth overall, which shows her that she is capable of keeping up with the front pack, no matter which type of schools we are running against."
Melissa Gjerde finished 37th in 22:19 followed by Karen Gonzalez in 43rd in 23:19, Sam Piehl in 45th in 23:54 and Emilee Hanson in 52nd in 25:21. Non-counting score was Alyssa Ayers in 53rd in 26:40.
"Melissa had the best race of her career," said Struve. " She broke her personal best time, which she set last year, by four seconds. This shows that she is already ahead of where she was by the end of last season; I look for her to keep improving her times and placement each week. The other three girls, Karen, Sam and Emilee all dropped their times from our first meet as well. Since they are all freshman they are still figuring out how to run the 5K race, but they looked much stronger this week."
Ayers was competing in her first collegiate race. The Lakers were without the services of Sydney Park and Ashley Weston, but both will compete this weekend in Ames.
Andrew Kruger led the Laker men with a 33rd place finish in 29:41 on the 8K (5-mile) course.
Luke Hinton placed 44th in 32:09 while Teague Anderson placed 45th in 32:28, Kyle Kephart placed 46th in 32:56 and Cody Wikoff placed 47th in 34:13.
"Our two sophomores, Luke and Cody, both set new personal best times from last season," said Struve. "It was the first 8K race of the season for the men; since both sophomores have experience pacing themselves they were the ones that really had strong races at this meet. Our three freshmen finished with good times, but we will be working a lot on pacing and keeping track of mile splits over the next few weeks. "