FORT DODGE, Iowa — Rebekah Topham finished first again on the state’s biggest cross country stage.
This time the rest of the Griswold team joined her.
Topham, a sophomore, won her second straight individual Class 1-A crown and senior Jordyn Sindt also medaled as the top-rated Tigers beat Pekin 86-102 to earn their first state title in program history Saturday at the Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge.
As usual, Topham set the pace. Her time of 14:05 was 10 seconds ahead of Sibley-Ocheyedan’s Leah Seivert, but off her Class 1-A all-time best mark of 13:59 she established on the four-kilometer course last year.
Topham’s time ranked fourth on the day among girls in all classes. Linn-Mar freshman Stephanie Jenks won the 4-A race in 13:42 and Iowa City West junior Ashlynn Yokom finished with a 14:00 in the same race. In 3-A, Waverly-Shell Rock senior Anna Holdiman prevailed in 13:51.
“I just wanted to win,” Topham said. “My time was just whatever, really. I was mainly going for the ‘W.’ ”
The experience became even sweeter when her team joined her on the awards deck later in the afternoon with the 1-A trophy. Sindt finished sixth overall (14:54), followed by sophomore Alyx Flippin in 19th (15:34), senior Allison Young in 53rd (16:25) and senior Larissa Backhaus in 55th (16:28) among Tigers who scored.
Coach Jane Chaillie said a combination of talent and hard work came together in Fort Dodge. It doesn’t hurt that the Tigers are also good friends — they spent part of Friday carving pumpkins with messages like “I love XC.”
“People have asked us all season if we’re going for a state championship,” Chaillie said. “From day one, we talked about not going for a championship but being the very best we can be. That’s the only thing we have control over.
“If we all run our best races, it will take care of itself. It took care of itself today.”
Topham took the lead in her run roughly a quarter of the way through. She steadily built on the advantage and cruised comfortably down the final stretch.
Even with some “stuff” in her throat, which sometimes happens after she uses her inhaler.
The winner certainly had a little extra motivation to draw on. She dropped to No. 2 in the state’s 1-A individual rankings behind Seivert earlier in the week despite showing no signs of slowing up from last year’s title.
Topham, who keeps up on the ratings, certainly noticed.
“I just didn’t let it bother me,” Topham said. “I don’t know what they based it on.”
Sindt, at No. 10, also exceeded the state’s opinion of her by crossing the finish line sixth. The senior, who wants to run in college, improved on her times throughout the fall and ran among her best races when it mattered most.
Sindt and Backhaus, who both qualified for state all four years, end their prep careers as part of their school’s best-ever cross country team. The Tigers finished third a year ago.
Griswold also won the Class 1-A track and field state crown last spring.
“I worked really hard this year to get here, so I’m glad it paid off,” Sindt said. “It was my last year. I’m very happy.”