For the first time since 2001 both the boys’ and girls’ cross country programs at Pella have qualified to the State Championships held in Fort Dodge, IA, on October 28th. The top three teams at the district race Thursday evening qualified.

In the girls’ race the top three finishing teams were Knoxville with 61 points, Pella with 62 points, and Benton with 72 points. The Dutch were led by Maddy Davis who finished 2nd to Ashley Lawson of Knoxville. Maddy and Ashley raced side by side the entire 4000 meters, pulling away from all other competitors soon after the first mile. Both posted times of 15:17 which set a new course record.

Michelle Renaud finished second for the Dutch in 10th place and a time of 16:06. Her tenth place finish earns her All-District honors. Completing Pella’s team score were Heidi Shulte, Hannah Schwab, and Morgan Hiemstra who finished in 15th, 16th, and 19th respectively. Kayli Hrdlicka finished 29th while battling mono, and Gracie Eggland finished 31st in her first race back in several weeks because of injury.

The boys placed first in their race, earning Pella their first cross country District Championship in school history. Knoxville placed second and Benton third, qualifying both those teams to state as well.

Pella had three men earn All-District Honors by placing in the top ten individually: Walker Bell placed 3rd in a time of 16:38, Adam Verhoef 5th in 16:56, and Andrew Bentz 8th in 16:59. Trey Behning and Zach Wittenberg completed Pella’s championship-earning performance finishing 11th and 34th respectively. Brandon Klassen had positioned himself to finish among the top 25 competitors, but was knocked down and injured by incidental contact in the race’s final 100 meters. Unable to rise without assistance, he was not given an offical finishing position. Nathan Buchheit finished 63rd in his first race back from a hamstring injury.

“This was a very exciting day for our programs,” shared Coach Cutler after the race. “One of our goals this season was for both teams to race competitively at the State Championships. That goal is now very close to a reality. Qualifying was obviously a necessary step in acheiving that goal. We showed a great many positive things today, but I am even more excited about what we have the potential to show next week.

“On the girls’ side, Maddy running with Ashley the entire race shows that she is now ready to display her full talent. Our pack finishing close together will be a great advantage in a large race like state. Gracie and Kayli are getting their strength back after their injuries, and they could have great performances next week.”

“On the boys’ side, having three boys break 17:00 on this course is impressive. Adam and Andrew hadn’t broken 18:00 previously on the same course. Trey is showing greater strength than he has previously during the last mile. Zach, Nathan, and Brandon are running very well under much more pressure than I would prefer they feel their freshman season. Nathan needed a race before state to get his legs underneath him again, and hopefully the injury Brandon sustained at the end yesterday is only superficial. We’ll know more after a few days.”

Complete Individual Results


Madison Davis 2nd 15:17

Michelle Renaud 10th 16:06

Heidi Schulte 15th 16:37

Hannah Schwab 16th 16:38

Morgan Hiemstra 19th 16:43

Kayli Hrdlicka 29th 17:27

Gracie Eggland 31st 17:33


Walker Bell 3rd 16:38

Adam Verhoef 5th 16:56

Andrew Bentz 8th 16:59

Trey Behning 11th 17:12

Zach Wittenberg 34th 18:08

Nathan Buchheit 63rd 19:34

Brandon Klassen DQ (spectator assistance)