Beckman’s Maria Kruse races her way to a 10th-place medal at state.

Beckman freshman Maria Kruse placed 10th overall in the Class 2A Girls’ State Cross Country Meet at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge, Oct. 31, ending less than a minute behind the first-place time with a 20:02.

Her medal finish was the first in school history, boys or girls.

“I tried to keep up with the pack around me,” said Kruse, “keeping them in touch and not getting behind them. There was a girl named Ruth that was my key and I stayed with her (Jennings, from Williamsburg, finished seventh). That makes me run faster, though I do try to keep my pace. This was a PR for me, by about 16 seconds. I guess that’s a good time to do it.

“There were a lot of people there, cheering for me and that made it easier to keep running. Basically, all the spectators moved around the course and it really makes it easier to run fast that way.

“I really appreciated the people there to cheer me on, my parents and the rest of the team and my friends. And my teammates helped me this week. Even though they didn’t have to practice anymore, they still ran with me and practiced with me. And my coach, Mr. (Tyson) Squiers, was a big help all year, walking the course with me there and helping me get ready.”

Squiers had this to say, “This was a big day in Beckman cross country and an enormous day for Maria. She was ranked for the first time this season (15th). She isn’t one to really pay much attention to stuff like that but I think it definitely gave her a little more confidence. My advice to her prior to the meet was “do what you always do, have fun and compete.”

“Maria is a very smart runner and proved that again today. Anyone who has run on a big stage like this knows it is very easy to start the race at a pace you’re not comfortable with. Your adrenaline is pumping and you’re running with the top in the state. It’s not uncommon to start way too fast. But Maria got out hard and put herself in a good position right away. It was an extremely windy day, common for Fort Doge and the state meet. She tucked into a group of six to eight runners and gradually worked her way up when she felt it was the right time to pass. With about 400 meters to go, she was about in 13th place and found one last gear to finish hard and pass when she was tired, finishing with a new school record.

“When Maria concluded her eighth-grade season, she was most excited about running with a team, something we didn’t have in the junior high runners. She is always ready to congratulate teammates on their own performance after a race. Obviously, this meet was a little different (since) she had to toe the line by herself, definitely a challenge as a runner. But the team came to support her which I know she really appreciated. There were more smiles, high fives, hugs and congratulations after the race. Lots of students, family members and community members were there to provide support.”

Winning the individual race was also a freshman, Danielle Hostetler of Mid Prairie (19:08). Following her were Addison Parrott, Danville/New London, (19:31); Jaden Yoder, Mid Prairie, (19:38); Amber Homan, Denver, (19:46); Clara Teigland, Treynor, (19:47); Amanda Treptow, Jesup, (19:47); Ruth Jennings, Williamsburg, (19:54); Mitzy Evans, Mid-Prairie, (19:56); Clare Wright, Jesup, (20:00); Kruse, Sydney Yoder, Mid-Prairie, (20:02); Kyrstin Agnitsch, Cherokee, (20:03); Mayson Hartley, Clarinda, (20:14); Taylor Kvale, Dike-New Hartford, (20:26); and Georgia Paulson, Underwood, (20:27). The top 15 all earn medals for their times.

Squiers concluded, “We hope that we get a little more acquainted with Fort Dodge in the upcoming years and make a few more trips here. Our ultimate goal would be to qualify as a team as well, which has been done only once in our program, back in 1996. With a little more experience for some of our runners, I think it could be a possibility. Today was a great day and we felt very blessed.”