Washington Evening Journal
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BURLINGTON — After a year of Demon dominance on the Southeast Conference cross-country scene, Thursday’s league meet was the same old story.
Washington rose above all others at the 2021 SEC championships. Both the boys and girls teams took home conference titles.
Washington’s boys championship was led by a one-two finish from Lance Sobaski and Micah Rees. Sobaski finished the race in 16 minutes and 32 seconds, notching his second title in a row, and also just the second SEC title in Washington boys cross-country history.
“I kept pushing myself because I knew I had a team behind me,” Sobaski said. “I knew what I had to go out and do, and everybody else knew what the plan was.”
Micah Rees crossed the line 23 seconds after his teammate, giving the Demons a big boost that helped to defeat Fairfield by nine points for the title.
“I'd say this is like the image of the whole season,” Rees said. “We put in a lot of work, and it's great to see it pay off.”
Fairfield gave it a heck of a run on the boys side. The Trojans had three runners finish in the top six, with Brady McWhirter taking fourth place in his first SEC meet.
“I felt pretty good,” McWhirter said. “Probably about a mile and a half in is when I started to feel a kick.”
Gavin Van Veen finished just seven seconds behind McWhirter. Lone Trojan senior Kaidyn Mickels followed in sixth.
“I just go into it like any other meet,” Mickels said. “I don't think anyone was behind me, but I pushed my hardest anyway to try to catch Gavin.”
Mt. Pleasant slipped into third place in the boys team scores, nipping Fort Madison by one point. Burlington took fifth, and Keokuk was sixth.
It was a dominant outing for the Demon girls. Washington’s team of all underclassmen won the meet by 29 points, led by the second-place finish of Quincy Griffis, who crossed the tape in 21:06.
“I think we all did our best, and worked really hard,” Griffis said. “I'm so proud of everyone.”
The Demon girls placed five runners in the Top 10. Lauren Horak placed sixth. Isabella Lujan was seventh. Amelia Dahl finished eighth, and Alyvia Anderson was ninth.
“It felt great just to know they were all right there,” Griffis said. “It helps, how close we are.”
But nobody could catch Mt. Pleasant’s Abby Blint. The 2020 SEC girls champion defended her title with a final time of 20:32.
“Physically, I feel good,” Blint said. “I started coming down with some congestion yesterday, and I thought some fresh air would do me some good.”
Despite having just six girls available, the Panther girls still took second as a team, edging Fort Madison by six points.
“I think it's really just something for the younger girls to look up to,” Blint said. “We've been trying to get with the middleschoolers all week to try and get them interested in the high school program.”
Mt. Pleasant had two runners in the top three on the girls side. Panther freshman Alexis Wagner placed third, one of seven freshmen overall in the top 11.
“I felt real really good about how I did, and I’m just super proud of how we all did, honestly,” Wagner said. “We’re a small team, but we’re mighty.”
Fort Madison finished third among the girls teams. Fairfield was fourth, helped out by a fifth-place finish from senior Kelsey Pacha.
Fort Madison swept the middle school championships. Washington took both junior varsity races, going 4-for-4 in the high school team standings.
“It's amazing, because I've seen the program grow from my eyes, from the ground up,” Sobaski said. “I couldn't ask for better coaches, and all the parents and the teammates. It's a family.”
BOYS TEAM SCORES
1. Washington 42; 2. Fairfield 51; 3. Mt. Pleasant 78; 4. Fort Madison 79; 5. Burlington 91; 6. Keokuk 182.
1. Lance Sobaski (12th grade) Washington, 16:32; 2. Micah Rees (10) Washington, 16:55; 3. Samuel Morehead (11) Burlington, 17:07; 4. Brady McWhirter (10) Fairfield, 17:16; 5. Gavin Van Veen (11) Fairfield, 17:23; 6. Kaidyn Mickels (12), Fairfield, 17:30; 7. Ben Carthey (10), Mt. Pleasant, 17:55; 8. Austin Miller (12) Fort Madison, 17:57; 9. Hayden Wolfe (12) Fort Madison, 17:59; 10. Joey Jolin (10) Burlington, 18:00.
GIRLS TEAM SCORES
1. Washington 32; 2. Mt. Pleasant 61; 3. Fort Madison 67; 4. Fairfield 72. Burlington, Keokuk did not have a team score.
GIRLS TOP-10 INDIVIDUALS
1. Abby Blint (12) Mt. Pleasant, 20:32; 2. Quincy Griffis (9) Washington, 21:06; 3. Alexis Wagner (9) Mt. Pleasant, 21:09; 4. Paetyn Wiegand (10) Fort Madison, 21:14; 5. Kelsey Pacha (12) Fairfield, 21:15; 6. Lauren Horak (9) Washington, 21:20; 7. Isabella Lujan (9) Washington, 21:30; 8. Amelia Dahl (10) Washington, 21:33; 9. Alyvia Anderson (9) Washington, 21:40; 10. Allison Lamb (9) Fort Madison, 21:44.