COUNCIL BLUFFS — Jacob Scott had won races before. This was different.
The Sioux City East senior had no shortage of inspiration during Saturday morning’s Abraham Lincoln Invitational. Not after his coach, Rochelle Babcock, got a call during the 90-minute bus ride to Council Bluffs that her father had passed away
With a heavy heart and suddenly light limbs, Scott cruised to the win on the winding, five-kilometer course at Iowa Western. The rest of the Black Raiders also came through to help earn East’s first team title of any kind in at least four years.
“She wanted us to push it today, and we did,” Scott said. “It was a lot of extra motivation.”
Justin Hill (fourth) and Mac McKeever (ninth) joined Scott among the top 10 finishers for the Black Raiders. After the boys squad was announced as the winner, runners surrounded Babcock for a hug before accepting their trophy.
Babcock said her father, Rick Atkins, a longtime Whiting principal and former cross country coach himself, would have wanted her to be with the team.
“Bless my dad, he put me right where I was supposed to be with these kids,” Babcock said. “They just said, ‘We got this today.’ ”
Harlan Community claimed the meet’s girls crown for a sixth straight season while its boys settled for second behind East, 56-60.
The outing answered plenty of questions for Harlan coach Doug Renkly. Roster depth seemed like a concern as runners lined up Saturday. Also unclear was how the Cyclones would stack up against some of the area’s top competition.
Both his squads answered with their best showing of the young season.
“Collectively, I don’t think we could have run much better — right now, at this time — than we did today,” Renkly said. “It’s a confidence thing and a momentum thing more than anything to prove to yourself that we are good enough to win a meet.”
Harlan’s Chris Brace and Philip Sciranko were fifth and sixth, respectively, in the boys race. Sioux City East’s Scott claimed top individual honors, 13 seconds ahead of T.J. runner-up Brian Collinson. Michael Sciranko, who ran JV last week, was No. 3 for Harlan and finished 10th overall.
Harlan’s boys bested third-place T.J. by 23 points after losing to the Jackets by 32 at last weekend’s Glenwood meet.
“T.J. looked unbeatable at Glenwood,” Renkly said. “We said, ‘You know what? They put their pants on one leg at a time just like we do. Now that we know what they got, let’s go out and see if they can prove it.’ We went out after them.”
For the Class 3-A No. 4 Harlan girls, Bailey Kuhl took second behind fellow senior Emma Preston of A.L. for a second straight week. The next Cyclone didn’t finish until Mercedee Mayberry crossed for 11th, but freshman Bailey Hansen rounded out the school’s top five with a 23rd-place showing.
“We always go in with a positive attitude,” Kuhl said. “We work so hard to win it. We just go out together, we work hard and it pays off.”
St. Albert freshman Jacey Martin finished in third while her five-girl team earned fourth with 131 points, trailing Harlan (58), Abraham Lincoln (76) and Glenwood (119).
Martin, who took second at Logan-Magolia’s meet last week, said it’s been a fun introduction into running at the high school level.
“I just run my own race,” Martin said. “It’s my pace; I don’t follow what other people do. But if people are in front of me, I’ll do my best to catch up.”
Team scoring: 1, Sioux City East 56. 2, Harlan Community 60. 3, Thomas Jefferson 83. 4, Sioux City West 112. 5, St. Albert 124. 6, Abraham Lincoln 167. 7, Denison-Schleswig 182. 8, Red Oak 195. 9, Lewis Central 202. 10, Missouri Valley 250.
Individual results: 1, Jacob Scott, Sioux City East, 17:37. 2, Brian Collinson, Thomas Jefferson, 17:50. 3, Josh Sunberg, Red Oak, 17:53. 4, Justin Hill, Sioux City East, 17:57. 5, Chris Brace, Harlan, 18:00. 6, Philip Sciranko, 18:14. 7, Mukhtar Ali, Sioux City West. 8, Alex Brewer, Abraham Lincoln, 18:18. 9, Mac McKeever, Sioux City East, 18:24. 10, Michael Sciranko, Halran, 18:30.
Team scoring: 1, Harlan Community 58. 2, Abraham Lincoln 76. 3, Glenwood 119. 4, St. Albert 131. 5, Lewis Central 132. 6, Sioux City West 139. 7, Sioux City East 151. 8, Red Oak 161. 9, Thomas Jefferson 175. 10, Denison-Schleswig 197.
Individual results: 1, Emma Preston, Abraham Lincoln, 16:34. 2, Bailey Kuhl, Harlan, 16:52. 3, Jacey Martin, St. Albert, 17:10. 4, Bre Waugh, Abraham Lincoln, 17:20. 5, Denae Statzer, Lewis Central, 17:30. 6, Lizzy Young, Glenwood, 17:32. 7, Cassie Warner, Thomas Jefferson, 17:47. 8, Avery Lester, Sioux City East, 17:52. 9, Hannah Dugdale, Missouri Valley, 17:57. 10, Molly Dean, Glenwood, 17:58.