At the midpoint of the varsity girls 4K cross-country run in the Heart of America league championships Thursday at Marion County Club, Kaelyn Thierolf found herself all alone.
The Marion High School sophomore runner was far ahead of the pack and still pulling away. There was no one to pace her, no one to push her. No one except herself.
She could have coasted the rest of the way. Instead, Thieolf claimed the league championship by setting a new school record of 14 minutes, 43 seconds, shaving seven seconds off the mark previously held by Danielle Cope. She finished 20 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor.
Marion head coach Rebecca Hofer praised Thierolf’s effort, noting how difficult it is to achieve a record time running solo.
“You have no one pushing you, you have no one to set the pace with — you’re all on your own,” Hofer said. “She was running by herself the whole race with no one pushing her, except me yelling at her how many minutes she had left.”
Marion’s other entrant in the field, Elizabeth Goentzel, placed 29th with a time of 19:11.
Jordan Hett paced the Warriors to a third-place team finish in the boys varsity 5K race, running with the leaders for most of the race before slipping to a third-place finish in 17:18.
Patrick McCarty and Jacob Cope placed sixth and seventh, respectively. McCarty ran the circuit in 18:09, and Cope trimmed nearly 20 seconds off his previous personal best with a time of 18:29.
Timothy Knolla, competing in only his third race this season after returning from an injury, finished 16th with a personal best time of 20:20. Jared Hague lowered his personal best by nearly a minute, placing 31st with a time of 21:50. Quinton Hett finished 34th with a time of 22:10.
“I was hoping we’d get second, and they only missed it by two points,” Hofer said. “If they would have passed one or two more people, we would have had it.”
Marion will compete Saturday in the Class 3A regional meet at Lake Afton, and Hofer believes the boys’ squad can vie for a third-place finish that would earn them a trip to the state championship.
“It’ll be tough — there are a couple of pretty strong teams that we haven’t beaten at any other meet, and there’s about five or six teams that one meet we’ll beat them, another meet they’ll beat us, so we’re pretty evenly matched with several teams,” Hofer said. “If we have a great run, we could hopefully get third, but they have to all run really hard.”
The girls 4K race begins at 2 p.m., and the boys 5K will follow at 3 p.m.