Van Meter girls cross country places seventh at state, football keeps winning

Megan Teske, Correspondent
Special to Dallas County News
The Van Meter girls cross country team poses for a photo at the state meet on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Fort Dodge.

The cross country season has come to a close, but not before the Van Meter girls cross country team could get in one final meet to end the season.

The Bulldogs ran at the state meet Oct. 30 and finished seventh overall among 15 total teams.

Head coach Josh Flaws said Van Meter came into the state meet ranked 13th and the goal for the Bulldogs was just to see where they could end up, so they were happy with the result.

“Seventh was a really, really good finish for us, we were super, super excited about that,” Flaws said. “We ended up beating Clarinda and Des Moines Christian, who beat us at the state qualifying, so to kind of jump them and run better than them than we did the previous week was really, really good to see.”

Flaws said the team felt like they were getting doubted coming into the meet, so the Bulldogs had a chip on their shoulder and wanted to come in and prove what they could do, especially after moving from 1A to 2A.

“I think we kind of finished better than some people expected us to so I think that kind of sums it up for us,” Flaws said.

Forest City junior Lili Nelson, left, pushes forward in an attempt to catch Van Meter junior Mary Kelly during the Class 2A Iowa high school state cross country meet on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Fort Dodge.

Helping Van Meter to get to seventh place was juniors Clare and Mary Kelly. Clare placed 10th overall with a time of 19:39.17 while Mary finished 15th with a time of 19:57.60.

Since both girls have ran the state meet the last two years, Flaws said the experience really helped them at the meet and they were in a much better mindset going in this time and really confident.

“Clare ran probably one of her best races of the year, her fastest time in three years up there,” Flaws said. “... Mary obviously placed on the podium, getting up on that porch for the first time, getting top 15 and getting a medal, really cool experience for those two being sisters.”

Flaws added that not only was it a cool moment for the girls, but Clare and Mary were also proud to help the team.

Clare Kelly runs during the state cross country meet on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Fort Dodge.

While the Kelly sisters and few of the other girls on the team had experience running at state, there were still some who didn’t and therefore some nerves for the meet.

Flaws said with a meet as big as this one, you can never truly get rid of the nerves, but that’s a good thing and he said the girls handled it well.

“I thought they stuck together as a team, they really kept each other calm and just stayed focused on just kind of thinking about the race and not worrying about the big crowd there and all that,” Flaws said. “It was just like, OK what do we need to go do, what’s our goal, let’s go accomplish it.”

Now looking to next year, Van Meter doesn’t lose any seniors, so Flaws said they have all the opportunity in front of them.

The Bulldogs will have some younger runners join them next year as well, he added, and the sky's the limit next year for them in terms of what Van Meter can do.

“That’s kind of the exciting piece is you look at your team and you're going, ‘well I get all of them back,’” Flaws said. “Number one they’re great kids and number two it’s just, they’re really competitive.”

Flaws added that for next year getting a trophy and being in the top three is the goal for this group.

Van Meter's Dalten Van Pelt runs the ball during a game against Woodward-Granger on Friday, Oct. 29.

Football keeps winning

The Van Meter football team played in the second round of playoffs Oct. 29 and took on Woodward-Granger. The Bulldogs defeated the Hawks 42-0 to advance to the quarterfinals.

Van Meter put up 14 points in the first quarter and raised its lead to 35-0 by halftime.

Leading the Bulldogs in the win was senior quarterback Jack Pettit, who went five for seven for 181 yards and three touchdowns. Pettit also rushed eight times for 111 yards and two touchdowns.

Senior Dalten Van Pelt had the majority of the carries on the ground, rushing 15 times for 123 yards and one touchdown.

On the receiving end of Pettit’s throws was the duo of senior Ganon Archer and junior Carter Durflinger. Archer caught three passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns while Durflinger had two catches for 87 yards and one touchdown.

Carter Durflinger runs the ball for the Bulldogs during a game against Woodward-Granger on Friday, Oct. 29.

While the offense kept scoring, Van Meter’s defense held Woodward-Granger scoreless. The Bulldogs held the Hawks to 156 passing yards and -11 rushing yards.

Van Meter’s defense had seven tackles for loss, led by seniors Casey Trudo and Lincoln Olsen, each with two, and two sacks, with Trudo notching one and Durflinger getting the other.

The Bulldogs will play in the quarterfinals against ACGC at 7 p.m. Nov. 5 at Van Meter School.