KHS 5 girls

Many of the Knoxville Panther varsity runners ran in a pack at the Early Bird Invite. From the left are Charlie Vermeer, Jalen Nelson, Dani Johnston, Jade Six and Olivia Maasdam. The Panthers were third as a team, but they were knocking on the door for the runner-up spot.

Knoxville freshman Norah Pearson had a very impressive start for the Knoxville Panther cross country team in their season opener August 26.

The freshman won the Knoxville Early Bird four-team meet held at the Knoxville High School. Her time was 18:56, as she won the 5k race by over 1:30 ahead of the second place runner from Pekin High School.

Pekin won the varsity girls’ team title with 24 points followed by Fairfield with 58 points and Knoxville in third with 62. Eddyville-Blakesburg was a distant fourth at 98.

The rest of the KHS scoring for the day consisted of Olivia Maasdam in 13th place at 23:21 and Dani Johnston in 15th at 23:28.

Next came Charlie Vermeer in 16th at 24:02 and Jade Six in 17th to round out the scoring with a clocking of 24:17.

Also racing with the varsity but not counting in the team total were Jalen Nelson in 20th at 24:34 and Abbey Jackson 21st at 25:08.

Vermeer, Six and Jackson are all seniors, while the other four KHS runners are underclassmen.

KHS Coach Michael Splavec replied, “It was a beautiful day to run. The course around the High School is a very flat, and very fast course. All runners ran great times and have a lot of confidence as we move forward in our season.”

Other Panthers, who missed out on the varsity lineup, but were next in the running order were Sophie Murphy in 24th at 26:34, Madelynn Liston 30th at 27:18, Claire Fay 32nd and Anna McDonald 33rd.

Odds and Ends

The Panthers will run at the Pella Invite Saturday, Sept. 7 at the Central College Course starting at 9:30 a.m. The meet will be for both varsity squads and JV runners.

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

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