Norah Pearson

Knoxville’s fabulous freshman, Norah Pearson has qualified for the State Cross Country Meet in Fort Dodge.

Norah Pearson, Knoxville Panther freshman, was the star of the show for the cross country team Thursday, Oct. 24 at the Class 3A State Qualifying Meet in Pella.

The meet was held on the Central College Course and Pearson displayed the strength and poise of a veteran.

She was second in the 3A 5K race with a time of 19:48. The top 15 runners in the varsity boys’ and varsity girls’ races each punched their tickets to State competition this Saturday in Fort Dodge.

Megan Sterbenz of Dallas Center-Grimes won the 5K girls’ race with a time of 19:18.

It was a rather ideal afternoon for late October in Iowa.

“This is my favorite running weather,” Pearson said following the race. “The course is tough and there are some challenging hills.”

Pearson felt running the hilly Pine Knolls Country Club Course in Knoxville, helped prepare her for the Central Course.

In regard to the State Meet, Pearson stated, “My goal is a top 10 finish, if not better!”

Panther Coach Mikayla Splavec added, “I’m very proud of Norah, she has put a lot of hard work in.”

The year was 2011 when the Panthers last had a girl run at the state meet. The last KHS boy ran at State in 2012.

KHS Coach Michael Splavec chimed in, “Norah has a great body of work with all the work she put in during the summer. I’m excited to see what she can do in Fort Dodge.”

As a team the Panthers finished eighth with 214 points.

The top three teams all earned trips to the State Meet.

Dallas Center-Grimes won the girls team title with 26 points followed by Norwalk with 70 and Pella High with 89.

In addition to Pearson the rest of the KHS lineup for the day consisted of Abbey Jackson in 50th place witha time of 24:26, Charlie Ver Meer was 51st at 24:26. Tanna Davis was 54th at 24:51 and Olivia Maasdam 57th at 25:07.

Also racing but not counting in the team total were Dani Johnston in 58th at 25:07 and Sophie Murphy 62nd at 26:18.

Jackson and Ver Meer were the only two seniors in the Panther lineup.

Varsity Boys

Earning trips to Fort Dodge were Dallas Center-Grimes with 34 points in first place, Norwalk 55 for second and Pella High with 61 points in third.

The Knoxville Panthers were 8th in the field of 11 squads with 216 points.

Season long leader Jordan Bacon was the leader of the pack for KHS in 29th place at 18:27 followed by Seth Walraven 34th at 18:33.

The rest of the KHS scoring showed Trent Walraven 48th at 19:10 and Max Purvis on his heels in 49th at 19:11.

Freshman Kaden McGill rounded out the scoring in 56th at 19:32.

Also running for the Panthers but not counting in the team total were Ethan Murra in 59th at 19:43 and Joey Hembrook 61st at 19:48.

Murra, Bacon and Trent Walraven were the senior members of the KHS squad Thursday in Pella.

Odds and Ends

The Class 3A girls’ portion of the State Meet will start at noon Saturday, Nov. 2 at the Lakeside Municipal Golf Course north of Fort Dodge.

The top 15 runners will earn medals.

Teams from Dallas Center-Grimes and Norwalk were each ranked among the top five teams in 3A for both the boys and girls.

State Cross Country Time Schedule Saturday, Nov. 2

11:00 4A Girls

11:30 4A Boys

12:00 3A Girls

12:30 3A Boys

1:00 2A Girls

1:30 2A Boys

2:00 1A Girls

2:30 1A Boys

Class 3A Girls State Qualifier

1. Dallas Center-Grimes 26; 2. Norwalk 70; 3. Pella 89; 4. Winterset 115; 5. Bondurant-Farrar 164; 6. Nevada 169; 7. South Tama 198; 8. Knoxville 214; 9. Oskaloosa 218; 10. Fairfield 244.

Class 3A Boys State Qualifier

1. Dallas Center-Grimes 34; 2. Norwalk 55; 3. Pella 61; 4. Bondurant-Farrar 115; 5. Winterset 151; 6. Oskaloosa 152; 7. Fairfield 208; 8. Knoxville 216; 9. Nevada 224; 10. South Tama 284.

Perry Bell can be reached at or by calling the newsroom at 641-842-2155.

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