Panthers, Lady Panthers advance to State XC meet

Lauren Derscheid and Emily Laumeyer helped propel the Lady Panthers to qualify for the State XC meet with both finishing in the top 15 and two other girls finishing in the top 25. The State meet will be in Fort Dodge on October 27.

The Lady Panthers cemented their State berth with a couple top-15 placements while the Boys had to sweat it, advancing past Durant by two points. Both teams were running against some of the best competition in the region on October 18 at the Iowa City Kickers Club, hosted by Iowa City Regina.

The girls team turned to two of their youngest competitors to lead the team, like they had been doing for much of the season already. They delivered again as Lauren Derscheid and Emily Laumeyer established spots in the lead pack and held on for much of the race. As the end neared, the gaps grew slightly larger up front until the final stretch, everyone giving their all with hopes of advancing or helping their team pick up points.

Derscheid was the first Lady Panther to cross, clocking in at 22:12.26 to take home 11th place. Laumeyer wasn’t far behind her, finishing in 15th place with a time of 22:20.61. If the whole Lady Panthers team wasn’t going to make it, at least Derscheid and Laumeyer would be guaranteed the chance to run at State, having finished in the top 15 overall. Their teammate Remi Duwa, one of the few veteran girls on the squad, finished just outside the top 15, placing in 16th after running a time of 22:33.45.

“Our girls just didn’t run that well here. They were in their best shape mentally and we had some girls come through for us,” Pekin coach Davis Eidahl said. “Emily and Lauren ran a nice race and we were lucky enough to have third, fourth and fifth girls close unlike other teams. That was kind of a luxury for us.”

Their other two runners who would score went on to finish inside the top 30 of the 114 girls competing. Sarah Eubanks finished in 22nd place with a time of 23:00.62 and Cari Duwa was right behind her in 24th place, running a time of 23:07.12. After the top five scores were added up, the Lady Panthers finished with 81 points, easily taking third and coming up just five points shy of Starmont, who finished in second place.

Other Lady Panthers to run included Maddie Black (24:03.86) who finished 37th and Lily Fariss (24:15.90) who finished 39th.

The boys’ team wasn’t quite as fortuitous but did manage to advance in due part to some of their later finishers. They did get a big push early from two of their most consistent runners in Brady Millikin and Colten Glosser, both ranked in the top 30 boys in 1A. They both started out middle of the field and moved their way up to the front of the pack near the end of their first lap on the course.

“On the boys’ side Colten and Brady stepped up as did Tanner and Simeon,” Eidahl said. “We just ran what we could. I didn’t think they’d make it but give our guys credit for doing what they could and advancing the team.”

They kept their pace going from there, running side by side for much of the meet and put in their final push with the finish line in sight. Millikin crossed first, taking third place with a time of 17:40.51 and Glosser finished fourth with a time of 17:40.74. From that point things got tense for Pekin, with wide gaps between each runner. Tanner Conger finally broke through, sprinting down the home stretch to take 18th, running a time of 18:29.86.

Another sizeable gap before Simeon Buie made his way through the final stretch, finishing strong and holding off an advancing Wilton runner as he ran through the crowds of fans cheering on both sides of the flagged off areas. He wound up taking 42nd place after running a time of 19:42.92. It got even more tense for the team as more and more boys continued to stream in before their next competitor was seen nearing the finish. Devin Fraise, along with Buie, turned out to be clutch in getting his team much needed points.

Fraise held off Jayden Lawson of Keota in the final stretch, taking 70th place with a time of 20:56.66. Little did he know that his time would count for the team, in what may have helped push them into contention. The Panthers finished up with 134 team points, staving off Durant who finished with 136 points, just outside the top three.

Other boys to race included Chandler Stull (21:06.81) who finished 83rd and Zach Wise (21:53.86) who finished in 104th place.

Both boys’ and girls’ teams will get a chance to compete against the best competition around when they run in the State XC meet up in Fort Dodge on October 27.

“I’m going to tell them to just go up there and run, they did the hard part already,” Eidahl said. “Most times we’re aiming to finish in the top three but with these kids we don’t want them to worry about where we finish, and that should show a big difference for them compared to what they did here. They get so nervous, but we just want them to run.”