Cherokee Braids Take 7th
The Braves Girls Cross Country team made their third straight appearance at the Iowa State Meet in Fort Dodge, but this time they were running as the District Champions. The self-dubbed “Braids” would have to run without talented sophomore Riley Lubeck, but just as they have done all season they tackled the challenge with determination.
Despite all the costumes and laughter on the bus ride and during warm-up, the Braids were all business and focused on what they would need to do to continue the upward trend of State finishes from 15thin 2018 and 10th in 2019. Led by the dual-threat juniors Kyrstin Agnitsch and London Rogge, the Braves were at the top of their game when the gun went off and they would blitz to a 7th place finish.
Despite competing in an extremely talented field led by Mid-Prairie Golden Hawks Freshman Danielle Hostetler who would run to a 5th straight gold medal for the Hostetler family, the Braves were not intimidated. Both Agnitsch and Rogge would run the entire race within the top 25 runners in the state and each would better her place and time from 2019. Kyrstin Agnitsch would go from 43rd place to 12th and better her time by 49 seconds finishing with a time of 20:03. Agnitsch would bring the first State Cross Country Individual medal home since Kara (Nelson) Nitz won the bronze medal in 2006. London Rogge would go from 60th place to 21st improving 17 seconds from 2019 and finishing at 20:53. Both Agnitsch and Rogge credit the amount of work they did in the offseason for their success in October. Rogge stated, “I started doing long runs, 7-8 miles at least once a week as well as a lot of speed work.”
The lone senior on the Braves State roster was Rylie Bainbridge. Bainbridge saved her best race of her long 5-year career for last. Bainbridge would cross the finish line in 49th place with a time of 21:47, a full minute and forty-three seconds faster than her 2018 state time. Upon reflecting on her career Bainbridge said, “I think this team is amazing. Everyone works hard and supports one another. This is my second family and they honestly make me so proud every day.”
The rest of the team would not only be running towards the finish line but also toward the rest of their team as the Braids refused to leave the holding area until all 7 had crossed the line. No other team could be seen cheering and encouraging each other on through the finish line. Not until Julia Letsche (85th, 22:16), Natalie Harman (118th, 24:01), Heidi Letsche (128th, 25:08), and Taylor Farver (129th, 25:43) were all safely across the finish line would the team exit the holding area into a mass of Braves family, friends, and teammates. Kyrstin Agnitsch would remark, “I love my team and we’ve come a long way from last year. We’ve improved not only on how we race but how we connect as a team.” The Cherokee Braids has put the state on notice that they are the team to watch in 2021!