It was a hot, steamy afternoon at the Oskaloosa Cross Country Invitational Tuesday and the heat was hard on the runners. But it was the Twin Cedars Sabers that made the most noise of Journal Express area teams.

Williamsburg won a tight battle with Ottumwa and Grinnell for the title with 48 points compared to 51 for Ottumwa and 55 for Grinnell. The Sabers, the only Class 1A school in the loaded meet, grabbed the fifth place spot 182 points and the Knoxville Panthers were 10th with 248.

Rylee Dunkin, slightly built freshman, for the Sabers led her team with a third place finish overall. Dunkin was beaten only by the Bookin-Nobish twins from Ottumwa and they were all-state performers in track last year. And Dunkin has not lost to a Class 1A runner yet this year.

Dunkin’s time of 20:53.6 was followed by Cheyanne Bruns at 23:09 in 17th place. Other Saber places were Kisha Reed 33rd in 24:25, Brooke Roby 60th in 27:21 and Grace Bailey 69th in 28:09.

“I felt real good, despite the heat,” Dunkin said. “I enjoy running against good runners and the Ottumwa girls are very good. I had a good kick at the end and my goal is to continue finishing in the top ten in every meet.”

Saber coach, Trent Verwers, felt that this was a good meet for his team.

“This is a tough course with lots of hills,” Verwers said. I felt our kids competed very well with upper class teams and that will help us when the regional meet rolls around. Rylee ran a super race and she is unbeaten in her class.”

The Panther leader was Jade Six with a time of 25:17 in 38th place. Other KHS runners were; Jalen Nelson 42nd 25:34, Charlie Vermeer 52nd 26:11, Abbey Jackson 55th 26:28 and Dani Johnston 61st.

It should be noted the Panthers did not run Norah Pearson their No. 1 runner.

On the boy’s side of the ledger, Williamsburg won a four team battle with Albia, Grinnell and Ottumwa to take the title with 84 points. Knoxville was seventh with 158 points.

Jordan Bacon led the Panthers with a 21st place finish in the time of 19:30. Other Knoxville scorers were; Kaden McGill 26th 19:40, Seth Walraven 27th 19:43, Trent Walraven 40th 20:10 and Peter Pickard 44th 20:17.

The Panthers did a nice job of running in a pack during this race. Now their focus will have to be to move the pack up a few places.

Andrew Freel was the lone Twin Cedars runner in the race and he finished 82nd in a time of 25:38.

The Knoxville JV team ran well and captured 2nd place. Max Purvis was the second place individual to lead his team with a time of 20:07.

Emmett Schmidt and Joey Hembrook were also in the top 10. Schmidt was 5th with a time of 20:20 and Hembrook was ninth with a time of 20:41 Rounding out the Panther scoring was Carson Irving, 15th in 21:00 and Ethan Morgan, 48th in 22:56.

Panther Coach Michael Splavec replied, “Hot and humid were the name of the race today. Weather conditions made racing very difficult. Most of our runners did a nice job battling through the tough conditions.”

Perry Bell contributed to this story.

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

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