A strong season officially came to a close for both Van Meter cross country teams Saturday, Nov. 2 in the 2019 Iowa high school state cross country meet in Fort Dodge.


Within the confines of the Lakeside Municipal Golf Course, the Bulldog girls made their first-ever state meet team trip while senior Carson Wille was attending his second straight state meet.


For Carson, his senior campaign was capped off with one of the best performances of his career. On the biggest of stages, Wille clocked in a time of 17:28.2 marking a 15-second personal record. That placed the senior 37th out of a 142 runner field. It was a performance that ended well but had a rocky start as noted by Carson himself.


“I didn’t get off to the start I wanted and I knew I’d have to keep up a good pace to make up time,” said Wille. “I feel I made up time during the middle stretch and towards the end. I felt overall it was a strong race.”


The finish was a huge improvement over Carson’s 94th place finish last season and a feel-good finish for the senior.


“If felt really good to finish the way I did,” began Wille. I felt like I left it all on the course today.”


On the girls’ side, it was an amazing experience for the Bulldogs who ended up finishing tenth as a team in their inaugural team trip to the state meet. The team collectively finished with a time of 1:47:47.9. Pacing the Bulldog lineup was freshman phenom Claire Kelly who has led the roster in nearly every meet this season. Her state meet performance included a 21st place finish and a time of 20:15.4. Following her was fellow freshman and sister Mary Kelly who clocked in a 37th place time of 20:43.9.


From the talented sister pair, returning state meet runner Maya Herman followed as she placed 65th overall thanks to a time of 21:22.3. Freshman Payton Rice followed in 99th place with a time of 22:17.1 while junior Matti Rebelsky clocked in a time of 23:09.2, good enough for 116th overall. The rest of the Van Meter lineup was finished off with Clair Lauterbach placing 118th with a time of 23:13.3 and Claire Newell with a 131st place finishing time of 24:27.3.