It was a year of season-bests, personal records, big team wins and history-making performances for the Western Dubuque girls’ cross country team.

“From the team standpoint, we won a lot of meets, we qualified for state for the first time since 2019 and the third time in school history. We won the district title for the first time in school history, and fourth at state is the highest state finish in school history,” coach Mark Digmann said.

“Individually, Alyssa (Klein) was the first girl since Karla Burds in 1987 to win a district title and having Lilly Boge and Alyssa finish in the top 15-at state was the first time in school history that we had multiple individuals on the deck at state. I was also impressed by having six girls at or below 21:07 at the state meet.”

That time mentioned is important, as it was better than what Digmann was expecting when the season began.

“I thought we had the potential to be pretty good at the start of the year. I was hoping we could get five of them to run below 21:30 and we did that and then some. We had a lot of firsts this year and we couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out,” he said.

Audrey Biermann, Boge, Samantha Burds, Haylee Delong, Leah Digmann, Natalie Meyers, Ellie McDermott, Claire Neumann, Sammy Recker and Shelby Rice were the seniors on this year’s squad.

Looking at his senior class, coach Digmann said, “In terms of being competitive, three of our top-five and four of our top 10-girls were seniors this year. In terms of making practice enjoyable, helping the new kids out, and being positive and fun, this entire group will be missed.”

This season started on solid footing with a second-place team finish at Iowa City on Sept. 2, and it only got better from there.

“I think as kids started to figure out their roles and we started to close our gap we got consistently better. Our two freshmen, Bella (Meyers) and Paige (Koetz), started to figure some things out, our other new runners, Haylee (DeLong) and Gabby (Kaiser), also started to figure some things out and they all get to the point where they were in cross country shape and also knew what they could do in a race and when. As we progressed through the season, we got better.”

Klein is No. 3 on the WD’s girls’ all-time 5K list with a time of 19:11, while Boge is No. 4 on the list at 19:24. Of the 23 girls out this season, 18 of them recorded personal records in 2021.

Coach Digmann is excited about the future of the Bobcat girls’ program.

“We have four girls that ran at the state meet back and all of them have run near or below 21:00,” he said. “We have some other kids close, such as Gabby Kaiser that will help, Paige getting healthy will help, and we should get Carson Koerperich back next year after missing this season with an injury. Kylie Nauman will also be back. And then, as always, we’ll be able to get some kids that come out we weren’t expecting that will help out, girls that will improve over the summer and get themselves into the mix, and we will get some incoming freshmen that may contribute.”

The top times run by the Bobcats this year were: Klein 19:11, Boge 19:24, Biermann 19:46, Leah Digmann 20:18, Isabella Graber 20:37, Olivia Thul 20:43, Bella Meyers 21:30, Kaiser 22:02, DeLong 23:28, Nauman 22:40, Natlalie Meyers 24:12, Koetz 24:13, Emily Deutmeyer 24:42, Maggie Scherbring 25:53, Rice 27:02, Neumann 27:03, Burds 27:06, Claire McGrane 27:36, Recker 27:48, Ellie McDermott 32:29 and Cambrie Pitz 33:01.