After storms delayed the running of the state cross country qualifying meet at Lake Panorama Thursday, the Albia boys ran Friday and qualified for the state meet in Fort Dodge set for this Saturday. Dawson Bonnett became just the third runner to ever qualify for three individual state meet appearances and led the Blue Demons to a runner-up finish behind conference foe, Davis County.
Bonnett came out of the gate with his feet on fire with the wind chill sitting at 27 degrees and north winds pushing at the rate of 19 mph. He positioned himself inside the top 10 within the first four tenths of a mile and remained constant throughout the whole race. He ended up finishing in a time of 18:08 in seventh place. “Dawson was solid tonight,” said Coach Todd Ratliff. “This is exactly where he thought he would be. He went out and took care of business, and I am so proud of where this puts him in Albia’s record books.” (Only Colton Dorpinghaus and Landon Noe accomplished three individual state qualifications.)
Max Teno and Brock Ratliff once again worked off of each other’s efforts as they completed the hilly, mainly trail running course. Teno broke away late in the race to finish 20th in a time of 18:56 with Ratliff finishing 24th in a time of 19:07. “Max was determined today, and showed it with every step that he took out there,” said Coach Ratliff. Brock passed five runners in the last 400 meters. When you add those two things together, it led to few enough points to make the difference today.”
Battling the course, and each other for the 10th time this season were Ethan Stalzer and CJ Ratliff. Stalzer pulled away with his foot speed and finished just three seconds ahead of Ratliff as they finished 31st and 32nd in times of 19:24 and 19:27. “It has been a long time since I have seen two runners work together so well as they race,” said Coach Ratliff. “It seems that they are magnetically connected at times as they are very well matched on the course. The beauty of it is, it makes them both better, and helps pull them towards the front.”
Pushing team scores up were John Pistek and Travis Sheffield. John finished in 37th place in a time of 19:41 and senior Travis Sheffield, in his first district appearance, ran a solid race and finished in 50th place. “These guys are so key in a big meet like today,” said Coach Ratliff. “Travis’ placing added points to nine other team scores, and John not only added points to 13 team scores (of the 15) but also was used as the tie breaker that pushed our team to runner-up. So huge.”
“It was a huge day all around for this squad,” said an ebullient Coach Ratliff. “Dawson with his third individual qualification, Brock setting the stage to be the first Blue Demon runner to finish all four of his seasons with the program at the state meet, as well as receive Academic All State (senior, ACT of 29 or higher, and a top 30 finish at the state qualifying meet). Max Teno with a top 20 finish and senior Travis Sheffield working his tail off over the last four years to get himself a spot on this year’s team. Just a spectacular day for the team and the program.”
The team scores were as follows: Davis County 51, Albia 114 (and won the tie breaker runner), Central Decatur 114, Missouri Valley 122, Clarinda 130, Underwood 155, Roland Story 176, Red Oak 181, Treynor 194, Shenandoah 203, Chariton 268, Woodward Granger 345, West Central Valley 394, Centerville, Panorama.
This is the sixth time in the last seven seasons of coaching under Coach Ratliff that the boys squad qualified for the state meet. (2012, 2013, 2014, two-year absence by Coach Ratliff to coach at IHCC, 2018, 2019, 2020).