DCG girls cross country takes first in state-qualifying meet to advance to state

Andrew Brown
Dallas County News
DCG girls cross country after capturing the state qualifying crown and their seventh straight state meet ticket on Wednesday, Oct 21 in Winterset.

 The Dallas Center-Grimes girls cross country team continued their streak of state meet appearances after capturing first at the state qualifying meet Wednesday in Winterset. 

 The DCG girls captured their seventh straight state meet appearance with a collective time of 1:39:30. It also marked the 11th time in the past 12 years that the Mustangs have graced the state meet. That became possible as DCG placed three runners in the top-five while all seven runners placed 20th or better. 

DCG's Kami Smith en route to placing second in the state qualifying meet on Wednesday, Oct. 21 in Winterset with a career-best time.

"It's been an interesting season for us and we ran pretty well tonight with plenty left for next week," began head coach Justin Droppert. "These girls ran great as a group and I couldn't be happier for them." 

It was an all-around solid performance for the Mustangs as a group as they picked up their sixth top-two finish of the season. The best performance on the night for the Mustangs came from sophomore standout Kami Smith. En route to placing second out of the 78 runner field, she not only captured a season-best time, but her time of 19:24 also marked her career-best. 

"Kami ran her best race of the year which is huge for us moving into next week," said Droppert. "She had a good start and just ran strong the whole race." 

It was a finish that no one could defeat which was interesting given that only the senior group for DCG had ever raced on the Lakeview course. 

"It's funny because we normally come to the Winterset meet every year but it's been cancelled the last three years," laughed Droppert. "It's a challenging course for sure. It's hilly and fast with mostly good footing. It's a fun course." 

DCG's Megan Sterbenz during the initial leg of the state qualifying meet in Winterset on Wednesday, Oct. 21 at Lakeview Golf Course.

Following Smith was another reliable runner in Megan Sterbenz. Despite a health issue, the senior pushed through to finish third overall with a time of 19:34. Sterbenz was the second of three runners to place inside the top-five and also included fellow senior Miranda Muhlstein. In just her fourth race of the 2020 season, Muhlstein placed fifth in Winterset with a time of 19:53, just ten seconds off of her season-best time set back on Oct. 12. 

"Megan had been battling a hip problem but just kept battling through it," said Droppert. "For Miranda too, she just kept battling and did a great job." 

DCG senior Miranda Muhlstein down the final stretch of the state qualifying meet on Wednesday, Oct. 21 in Winterset.

Junior Hannah Little was next up on the DCG roster as she placed 16th overall with a time of 20:18, a mere one second off of her current season-best time. The rest of the field for DCG included freshman Vanessa Bickford (17th, 20:21), Meredith McDermott (18th, 20:25) and senior Emma Angus (20th, 20:27). 

Angus, along with all the seniors on the roster, played a big part in the success for DCG girls cross country.

Senior Emma Angus runs in the state qualifying meet on Wednesday, Oct. 21 in Winterset.

"This didn't happen overnight and these seniors were a big part of it," began Droppert. "It's just built every single year and these seniors have known nothing but placing top four at state so far. That's really something to think about with six returners back but a different dynamic this year." 

Next up for the victorious Mustangs will be the trip to the very familiar grounds of the Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge for the Class 3A state meet on Friday, Oct. 30.

DCG junior Hannah Little during the midway point of the state qualifying race on Wednesday, Oct. 21 in Winterset.
Meredith McDermott runs alongside teammate Vanessa Bickford in the state qualifying meet on Wednesday, Oct. 21 in Winterset.