At the Oelwein Cross Country Invitational Aug. 31, the Beckman varsity girls placed sixth among 12 teams and the boys came in 13th.

The girls’ total of 173 was ahead of several schools that had previously topped the Blazers, including a ranked Starmont team. Denver copped the top spot with 38, followed by Center Point-Urbana 77, Jesup 87, Union 129, Decorah 150, BHS, North Linn 180, Sumner-Fredericksburg 181, Central Elkader 211, West Delaware 228, Starmont 240 and Oelwein 355.

Maria Kruse began her sophomore campaign in her usual spot, pacing the team, coming in 15th in 22:16. The next three runners all scored below 50 points for the Blazers. Julia Mertz was 25th (23:14), Abby Knepper 27th (23:21) and Maria Dudzik 42nd (24:15). Rounding out the team total was Ellie Recker 72nd (26:46), steps ahead of Mary Reed 73rd (26:55). Jordan Thier ran 80th (28:16).

Coach Tyson Squiers added, “The girls’ team started us off with a bang, finishing sixth. We usually are about 12th in this meet due to the steep competition. We dropped 127 points from last year’s score which is huge. Maria (Kruse) medaled and Julia Mertz ran her first-ever race in a time that puts her eighth on our all-time list. Maria Dudzik just missed out top 10 times in her rookie race.”

On the boys’ side, all counting runners scored above 50 points as the Blazers tallied 337. Their race was won by Decorah as well with 56, followed by CPU 76, Jesup 91, Oelwein 99, Denver 105, Starmont 167, North Linn 220, West Delaware 225, S-F 247, Dunkerton 262, Ed-Co 302, Columbus 308, BHS, Wapsie Valley 366 and Union 367.

Auden Recker led the team in 52nd place with a time of 21:11. Jacob Schlarmann was next 56th (21:18), followed by Joe Schneider 77th (22:11), freshman Parker Domeyer 82nd (22:28) and Ryan Schlarmann 86th (23:02). Also running were John Paul Grebner 88th (23:22) and Cassius McGrane 89th (23:23).

Squiers said, “Even though the boys were 13th among 15, we dropped over 100 points from last year’s total. Auden ran faster than his time last year and Jacob was not far behind. It’s great to have two runners towards the front of the field. Parker had a great freshman debut in his first 5K and the rest of the varsity ran together and pushed each other. Overall it was a strong showing for the boys in their first meet. We are well on our way to a competitive season with a little work.”

In the girls’ JV race, the team came in 11th with 308. Decorah also took that race with 30. Scoring for the Blazers were Marie Grebner 80th (29:24), Mallory Rea 83rd (29:26), Paula Braun 105th (30:38), Chloe Goedken 131st (32:36) and Valery Meyer 141st (33:29).

The boys placed seventh with 207 in a race again won by Decorah (22). Sheldon Corkery led the team in 56th with a time of 23:00). Next came Shawn Brunsman 74th (24:04), Andrew Salrin 95th (26:22), Isaac Westhoff 98th (26:29) and Erik Koopmann 107th (27:18). Devin Burlage wasn’t far back, in 111th place with 27:45.

The Blazers were fourth in the junior high boys’ race with 85 points, trailing CPU (51), Decorah (53) and Denver (61). Andrew Schlarmann and Adam Gaul were back-to-back, fourth and fifth (8:59, 9:05), to pace the team. Danny Dudzik was next, 25th (10:01), followed by Brenndan Engler 38th (10:29) and Steffen Goerdt 41st (10:32). Also running were Alexander Kerper 47th (10:57), Jackson Krapfl 53rd (11:18), Tommy Dudzik 66th (11:57), Levi Reiter 73rd (13:25) and Tayveon Barnhart 75th (13:51).

They placed eighth in the junior high girls’ race with 197. Decorah took this one with 40. Scoring for the Blazers were Autumn Domeyer 19th (7:38), Katy Brunsman 48th (8:50), Andrea Schneider 60th (9:11), Catalina McGrane 62nd (9:16) and Gloria Hoeger 69th (9:45), a step ahead of Maria McGrane in 70th with 9:47. Cheyenne Geistkemper ran to 93rd in 11:38.

“All in all, we had a very exciting first meet. It’s always just great to finally get a meet in. It’s then that the season really starts to feel like it’s rolling along. The next few weeks are going to get very busy for us with a couple of weeks where we double up on meets. I am excited to see where the season will go, but we definitely still have areas that need improvement,” concluded Squiers.