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Kelly takes individual title as Van Meter girls cross country places second in conference meet

Andrew Brown
Dallas County News

It was back to Panora for the West Central Activities Conference meet on Thursday, Oct. 15 for the defending conference champs Van Meter girls cross country. 

The setting once again was the Par Three Golf Course in Panora as Class 1A's fifth-ranked Bulldogs placed second in conference action. Highlighted by an individual conference title run by 7th-ranked Clare Kelly, Van Meter's second-place finish included a team time of 1:49:42, second only to Panorama (1:48:50). 

"They ran as well as they could of," began head coach Josh Flaws. "Our fourth and fifth girls tonight were two different girls who hadn't been there this season. Our goal was to be in the top three mix and they did a great job." 

Clare Kelly en route to capturing the individual crown in the West Central Activities Conference meet on Thursday, Oct. 15 in Panora.

For the second straight season, sophomore Clare Kelly placed top-five in the field and became Van Meter's only individual conference champion.  She bested the 97 runner field  with a time of 20:02, beating last year's time by 27 seconds. 

"This course is always nice," Kelly said. "It was really nice in the woods, not as much wind."

Mary Kelly runs in the West Central Activities Conference meet on Thursday, Oct. 15 in Panora.

Her sister, Mary Kelly, followed in fifth place following a time of 20:42. 

"It's nice to know we can always count on Clare and Mary to lead this team," said Flaws. "They do a great job and they ran great tonight." 

Both Kelly sisters earned their second straight trip to the first-team All-Conference list for their efforts. In total, the Bulldogs had three total All-Conference runners with junior Maya Herman earning second-team status, her third straight all-conference finish. Her time to do so came in at  22:09, giving her a new season-best time for 13th overall.

"Maya is always steady in that third spot and it was nice to see her add depth to this team," said Flaws. 

Maya Herman en route to a second-team all-conference selection in the West Central Activities Conference meet on Thursday, Oct. 15 in Panora.

That marked just one runner short of their all-time most All-Conference runners in Van Meter girls history (four in 2019). The Bulldogs totaled two more top-30 runners as senior Matti Rebelsky and sophomore Claire Newell placed 25th and 28th respectively with times of 23:14 and 23:36. The freshman pair of Eden Moore and Brooklyn Fryar rounded out the top-seven for Van Meter. Moore finished 32nd with a time of 23:58 while  Fryar captured 33rd with her time of 24:07. 

It's another strong overall finish by Van Meter as they continue to put their stamp on the cross country world. 

"It was pretty nice (to finish second), considering last year with our success," began Clare Kelly. "Even though we lost some people, we're still getting up there and showing people who we are." 

Following their strong finish, the Bulldogs now have their eyes set on state qualifying which will take them to Mount Ayr on Oct. 22.

"It helps that we ran this course last year so we know it quite well," Flaws said. "It's a fast course and Clare ran her best time last year. We just have to go and take care of business now." 

Eden Moore nears the finish line during the West Central Activities Conference meet on Thursday, Oct. 15 in Panora.