OTTUMWA — Don’t doubt Davis Eidahl’s Pekin cross country team.

With just a lone returning runner from his boy’s squad, the Panthers made believers out of critics with a berth in the state tournament after running at the Class 1A District/Regional meet at Wildwood Park in Ottumwa on Thursday.

It’s Pekin’s 17th state tournament appearance under Eidahl’s legendary guidance.

Eidahl spoke with perhaps his most appreciative tone of any team that he’s coached when discussing his group of kids this year.

“I always said all along, don’t give up on the boys,” said Eidahl, who has been named Regional National Coach of the Year twice. “Of all the years, I’m more proud and pleased with these kids because they’ve come from nowhere.”

Pekin has won state titles in 1967 and 1968.

The Panther boys squad finished third with 118 points and were led by senior Matt Swanson, a three-time state qualifier. He finished 15th in a time of 17:47.

“When you put on a Pekin jersey, it’s more than yourself or the guys that you’re running with at the race. It’s all the Pekin runners that have been there before you,” said Swanson, who is the lone returnee from last year’s team that placed eighth at state.

Pekin’s other finishers were senior Jeremy Tosh, who finished 19th in 18:03 and Jack Lastovitsky’s 24th-place finish (18:16). Gary Sievers finished 27th in 18:26 and Albert Newman finished 33rd in a time of 18:56.

“I guess you could say, tradition never graduates,” said Swanson. “They weren’t a lot of expectations with this team. We earned it. We knew what the goal was.”

Wright’s Panthers girls squad made a return trip to state as well.

A youngster led Pekin in freshman Emma Nelson. She finished seventh in 14:16 as she just edged IMS’s Jessica George at the finish line.

Nelson visualized herself running at state over the past two seasons after viewing the race in Fort Dodge as a spectator.

“In seventh grade it really didn’t hit me that I could run in it that soon. In eighth grade, I was like, wow, this is going to me next year,” said Nelson.

Two freshman runners compete from Pekin, the other being Annie Jones, who ran to a 20th-place finish.

Pekin finished 12th at state in 2005.

Junior Ashton Benson finished in 11th place in a time of 14:19 and junior Allison Shipley raced to an 18th-place finish (15:15). Senior Desiree McNamer finished 21st in 15:58.

Van Buren sophomore David Pedrick wowed the competition as he qualified for a state spot with a ninth-place finish (17:26).

Pedrick spoke with amazement and hope that people will take notice of his skill after his top-10 performance.

“I keep telling people I haven’t made a name for myself yet. Maybe this will be the day,” said Pedrick.

“I’m very excited for David. He really came into his own tonight. Hats off to him,” said Van Buren head coach John Simmons.

Van Buren senior Landon Greenfield, the Warriors top runner all season, failed to qualify with a 28th-place finish (17:59).

Greenfield placed 63rd at state a year ago.

“I feel bad for Landon,” said Simmons.

Iowa City Regina blew past the competition at the meet as the Regals took first in both races. Regina took the top four spots in the boys race and girls team had three top-10 finishes.

IMS also qualified in each race and will make the trek up to state.

Twin Cedars finished 12th with 312 points and the Sabers’ top-finisher was Trevor Roberts’ 20th-place finish (18:07).

Austin Boomgarden of Moravia finished in 44th-place (19:41) and Christian Ferree of Sigourney ran to a 56th-place finish in 20:46.

Derek Heisdorffer led Cardinal with a 65th-place finish in 21:44 and Christina Goering finished in 77th-place in 20:28.

“I appreciate the effort. The boys stuck it out and did a good job. We’ll miss Christina,” said Cardinal head coach Ron Howard.

Whitney Atwood led Van Buren in a time of 17:25, good for 23rd place.

Twin Cedars’ Brittany Clark finished 46th and Crystal Davis was right behind her in 49th-place.

Lisa Wehr of Sigourney finished 48th (18:34) and Rachel Godby of Moravia finished 58th (19:00).

CLASS 1A Regionals

At Ottumwa, 10/19/06

BOYS

Team scoring — 1. Iowa City Regina 22; IMS 51; 3. Pekin 118; 4. Wapello 126; 5. Van Buren 168; 6. I-35 188; 7. Wayne 243; 8. Pleasantville 255; 9. Montezuma 267; 10. Highland 292.

Top Ten — 1. Bob Ingram (ICR) 16:19; 2. Jeff Ross (ICR) 16:50; 3. Nick Synan (ICR) 16:57; 4. Shawn Sexton (ICR) 17:01; 5. Craig Shetler (IMS) 17:02; 6. Gideon Grenell (IMS) 17:02; 7. Sam McKinney (I35) 17:10; 8. David Ruiz (Wap) 17:17; 9. David Pedrick (VB) 17:26; 10. Jake Geyer (IMS) 17:31.

Pekin Runners — 15. Matthew Swanson 17:47; 19. Jeremy Tosh 18:03; 24. Jack Lastovitskyy 18:16; 27. Gary Sievers 18:26; 33. Albert Newman 18:56.

Van Buren Runners — 9. Pedrick 17:26; 18. Landon Greenfield 18:00; 30. Cody Goehring 18:35; 41. Lucas Sandry 19:26; 70. Shawn Evans 22:24; 71. Jacob Poole 22:27.

Cardinal Runners — 65. Derek Heisdorffer 21:44; 69. Peyton Rupe 22:23; 87. Landon Schropp 26:25.

Moravia Runners — 44. Austin Boomgarden 19:41; 81. Zach Fears 23:34; 86. Jake Strickler 24:38.

Twin Cedars Runners — 57. Daniel Feagins 20:57; 66. Torbin Schulte 21:55

GIRLS

Team scoring — 1. Iowa City Regina 29; 2. Pekin 77; 3. IMS 112; 4. Pleasantville 133; 5. Lynnville-Sully 145; 6. Wapello 172; 7. Montezuma 226; 8. I-35 227; 9. Matensdale-St. Mary’s 259; 10. Van Buren 293; 11. Highland 300; 12. Twin Cedars 312; 13. Central Decatur 341.

Top Ten — 1. Katie Ries (ICR); 2. Annette Gingerich (IMS); 3. Nicole Klienmeyer (ICR); 4. Maria Yoder (IMS); 5. Vivian Tomkovicz (ICR); 6. Jessica George (PV); 7. Emma Nelson (P) 14:16; 8. Samantha Osterhaus (ICR); 9. Britney Yotter (Wap); 10. Jessica Sutfin.

Pekin Runners — 7. Benson 14:16; 11. Ashton Benson 14:19; 18. Allison Shipley 15:15; 20. Annie Jones 15:44; 21. Desiree McNamer 15:58

VB Runners — 23. Whitney Atwood 17:25; 37. Hali Anderson 17:56; 69. Kylie Harlan 20:03; 73. Morgan Chapuis 20:16; 91. Kathryn Osborne 22:40.

Twin Cedars Runners — 46. Brittany Clark 18:30; 49. Crystal Davis 18:35; 61. Jenna Huston 19:35; 64. Andrea Kaisand 19:43; 92. Charmane Downy.

Sigourney Runners — 48. Lisa Wehr 18:34; 54. Lindsey Gerard 18:54.

Moravia Runners — 58. Rachel Godby 19:00.

Cardinal Runners — 77. Christina Goering 20:28.

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