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Maquoketa Valley’s Ethan Doyl (771) and Chance Downs (770) compete at the state meet.

With a fifth-place team finish at the Class 1A State Cross Country meet for the boys and a girl in the individual field, the Maquoketa Valley Cross country program can only say, “What a year.”

The boys team of Nolan Ries, Cy Huber, Mason Lubben, Michael Schaul and Ethan Doyl finished fifth with 209 points. Also running were Derek Mensen and Chance Downs. The top four runners were under 18 minutes and Doyl was just over.

“Of course, this was a key highlight in our season,” said assistant coach Sara Dever. “But their third-place district finish to qualify was a big one as well. This was the best boys team I have coached at Maquoketa Valley yet, and I think it will only get more exciting as the years go on.”

Ries, Huber and Schaul are sophomores, Doyl a junior. Head coach Pat Meehan and Dever will lose Lubben, Mensen, Downs and Jaiden Porter on the girls’ team.

“This was Jaiden’s first year out for cross country and she shook things up on the girls’ side,” said Dever. “She is calm and no-nonsense and made a difference in the culture of the girls’ team. Chance, Mason and Derek have contributed greatly to the program the past four years. We are proud of the way they ran (all three were on the state team in 2018 and 2019) but we’re more proud of the people they are. They are the reason the team is so close and when you care about each other, you run better.”

Dever is looking for bigger things in the future, with the underclassmen returning. “The girls’ team made the most improvement this year. Emma (Doyl), a sophomore, was also new to the team this year and qualified 14th at districts and 87th at state, where she ran under 22 minutes. The girls had a full scoring team for the first time in a long time and that gave them all motivation. Jaiden and Emma and Kriya Atwell led the girls this season. Jordan Hogan, Reece Mensen and Annie Trenkamp rounded out the team. We saw each girl run this season as we’ve never seen them run before. It was extremely rewarding to see them take pride in the way they ran at practice and in meets.

“Also, another highlight of the year was the JV conference race at Springville. Brock Trenkamp (sophomore) and Landin Frasher (freshman) ran 1-2 in the race,” said Dever. Rounding out the underclassmen coming back is sophomore Preston Roling.

“The key to seeing greater success will be running more miles together in the off-season,” concluded Dever.