DENISON – When the dust cleared Thursday night, Atlantic cross country became home to seven all-Hawkeye Ten Conference finishers.

And both Trojan teams, the boys and the girls, placed strong thirds in the team standings.

On the boys’ side, it was conference champion Craig Alan Becker leading the way, and with him came eighth-place finisher Zane Berg, along with Drew Engler (14th) and Ethan Williams (16th).

Then there was the girls, with bronze medalist Taylor McCreedy finishing her high school career with her third top-three conference finish. With her were sophomore Ava Rush (14th) and freshman Claire Pellett (16th).

The all-Hawkeye Ten honor was McCreedy’s fourth and solidified her as one of Atlantic’s all-time best in the sport.

McCreedy came through the finishing gates at the Northside Recreational Facility in 20:00.96, less than 10 seconds ahead of meet winner Braelyn Baker of Creston.

“I just focused on going out and having fun since this is my last Hawkeye Ten Conference meet,” she said. “I just wanted to go out and run as hard as I could. Even when my legs wanted to give out I still pushed hard for my team because I love each and every one of these girls.”

McCreedy was runner-up her freshman and sophomore years. Last year brought a 14th-place finish. But that was then. Thursday night she was near, if not at, vintage McCreedy form.

A grand finish for one of the state’s elite, but McCreedy – and her teammates – knows the real goal lies ahead: Qualifying for the state meet at Fort Dodge.

That step comes next Wednesday, Oct. 21, at the big state qualifying meet in Winterset.

“We’re all extremely pumped for Wednesday and going out and running and doing our best,” said McCreedy.

McCreedy hung in the top five the whole way, while Rush and Pellett were running within the top 20 the entire time as Baker gained enough distance to hold off McCreedy and Glenwood’s Emma Hughes, the runner-up, off down the stretch.

For the first couple of miles on the boys’ side, Becker was in a pack that included Harlan’s Trey Gross and Council Bluffs Lewis Central’s Ethan Eichhorn. After each traded the lead, Becker turned on the jets in the third mile and went on to win in 16:25, seven seconds better than Gross and 20 ahead of Eichhorn.

The win makes it six for Becker, who was also unbeaten in meets hosted by Hawkeye Ten teams, including the home Trojan Invitational just a week ago.

Coach Dan Vargason called the Hawkeye Ten Conference meet a springboard for the district meet, and eventually the state meet to take place Friday, Oct. 30, at Lakeside Golf Course.

“This is a tune-up,” said Vargason. “The kids don’t always like it when I say it but I don’t care about conference meet. To me, this is really cool to get a medal but next week’s post-season. We just get excited to go out and compete, and both sides did a great job tonight.

“This is a training run. Now we go to Winterset and try to make some noise there.”

Several of the Trojans said they’re ready to push toward the big meet in Winterset. ADM and Dallas-Center Grimes, along with Glenwood – the team that swept the team titles – will be there.

“It’s always nice to go out on a new course and we always like new course because we don’t always know what’s coming and don’t really have any experiences to base it off of,” said Pellett. “I really liked this course because it went really fast and you could see everybody and where they were.

“To get out on a course we don’t know about, it was good to have a good race and do really well. That gives us motivation to go out on Wednesday because it’ll be a new course and we don’t know what’ll come.”

“It’s just going to be trusting the process, trusting God and doing our best and let God do the rest,” said Becker. “We’ve got a good shot and I’m really excited to see the potential.”

Hawkeye Ten Conference

Thursday, Oct. 15, at Denison

Boys results

Team scores: 1. Glenwood 63, 2. Council Bluffs Lewis Central 70, 3. Atlantic 77, 4. Harlan 122, 5. Carroll Kuemper Catholic 137, 6. Clarinda 147, 7. Council Bluffs St. Albert 161, 8. Denison-Schleswig 192, 9. Red Oak 196, 10. Shenandoah 238. No score: Creston.

Top 5: 1. Craig Alan Becker (Atl) 16:25.18, 2. Trey Gross (H) 16:32.69, 3. Ethan Eichhorn (LC) 16:45.04, 4. Nathan Sell (LC) 17:05.66, 5. Baylor Bergren (RO) 17:07.88.

Atlantic: 1. Becker, 8. Zane Beg 17:34, 14. Drew Engler 17:57, 16. Ethan Williams 18:00, 41. Tyrell Williams 19:11, 51. Bennett Whetstone 19:38.93, 58. Devin Wood 20:01.

Boys results

Team scores: 1. Glenwood 63, 2. Council Bluffs Lewis Central 70, 3. Atlantic 77, 4. Harlan 122, 5. Carroll Kuemper Catholic 137, 6. Clarinda 147, 7. Council Bluffs St. Albert 161, 8. Denison-Schleswig 192, 9. Red Oak 196, 10. Shenandoah 238. No score: Creston.

Top 5: 1. Braelyn Baker (Cre) 19:51.85, 2. Emma Hughes 19:55.70, 3. Taylor McCreedy (Atl) 20:00.96, 4. Mayson Hartley (Cla) 20:06.03, 5. Kaia Beiker (H) 20:14.62.

Atlantic: 3. McCreedy, 14. Ava Rush 20:46, 16. Claire Pellett 20:58, 26. Madison Botos 21:54, 28. Addie DeArment 22:34, 40. Faith Altman 23:24, 43. Gwen Irlmeier 23:24.

To reach Brian Rathjen, send correspondence to sports@ant-news.com or phone (712) 243-2624.