Prairie Wins Cross-Country Invitational

By Jeff Linder, Reporter

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By Sam Louwagie

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Prairie Hawks were easy to spot.

They wore orange and black checkerboard uniforms that could be described as snazzy or tacky, depending on your fashion taste.

And they could be found out front.

Cedar Rapids Prairie had the frontrunners (Mitch Pritts and Isaiah Vlasek finished 1-2) and the depth (all five runners in the top 25), earning the boys championship of the Cedar Rapids Invitational cross country meet Thursday afternoon at Noelridge Park.

Word to the Iowa Association of Track Coaches voting panel: Might want to rethink that No. 11 Prairie placement in Class 4A.

“I think this was a little bit of a statement,” Pritts said. “We used that ranking as motivation that we should have been a little higher.”

The Hawks outpointed a Josh Evans-less Linn-Mar, 44-66. Ames was third with 86 points, followed by Iowa City High (141) and Iowa City West (149).

Linn-Mar is top-ranked, but Prairie was the class of the 18-team boys’ field on a beautiful early-autumn afternoon.

Evans was out with what Lions Coach Todd Goodell called “a tweaked Achilles.” Evans motored through a moderate workout at Noelridge on his own before the varsity race.

But take absolutely nothing away from Prairie. The Hawks were dynamite.

Pritts won the individual race in 15:32, 6 seconds ahead of teammate Isaiah Vlasek. Jake Moore was fifth.

“Isaiah and me, we try to push each other,” Pritts said. “I don’t know if you’d call it a rivalry — it’s a friendly rivalry. But we really do push each other.

“I felt good at a mile, and I took off.”

West’s Ashlynn Yokom was the individual girls’ champion in 14:08, but Ames’ team dominance was the story of the girls’ race. The Little Cyclones scored four top-10 runners and tallied a tidy 44 points.

Cedar Rapids Kennedy (92) was second, outrunning a pair of teams — Linn-Mar (104) and West (115) — that had beaten them in the past week.

Yokom was locked in a battle with Linn-Mar’s Amber Decker for the first half of the race. By the time Yokom emerged from the south portion of the course, she was safely in front.

She was clocked in 14:08. Brina Kraft of Muscatine was second in 14:23.

“The first mile was pretty easy for me. Then I kept pushing, faster and faster,” Yokom said. “When you’re on the (south) side of the bridge, there aren’t that many fans there, so you can really pace yourself better and have your thoughts to yourself.”

City High’s Ellen Carman and Cedar Rapids Washington’s Shannon Gorman were fourth and fifth. Decker finished seventh.

Daniel Gardarsson of West was third in the boys’ race. Linn-Mar’s Tanner Rathje was fourth.

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