REINBECK - The battle between South Hardin and East Marshall has been back-and-forth all season. On any given day, they can and have beaten each other.
Monday was South Hardin's day at the North Iowa Cedar League meet at Oak Leaf Country Club.
The Mustangs had two runners in the top 10 and three in the first 18 spots but the difference in the team standings came down to South Hardin getting a better performance from its fourth and fifth runners.
"We worked really hard and competed hard," South Hardin coach Mike Olson said. "It was a different kind of meet. It was postponed for the first time in my 23 years Saturday and we did not have school today. So it was an unusual setting for us. We adjusted well though."
In the end, the Eagles wound up fourth and East Marshall was fifth with a separation of nine points. Winning the NICL meet was Class 1A No. 7 Dike-New Hartford with 75 points, while defending champion Hudson was second with 106. Coming in just behind Hudson for third place was Class 1A No. 6 Denver, which has never finished outside the top three in the NICL and has won the meet three times.
Denver's Kelsey Kirchoff, who is ranked No. 7 in Class 1A, was first overall with a time of 16 minutes, 9 seconds, while Wapsie Valley's Abrah Meyer was second in 16:35.
The first area runner to finish was South Hardin freshman Lydia Rose and she came across in sixth with a time of 16:52. Also scoring first-team all-conference recognition was South Tama senior Kelsey Kupka, who was just one second behind Rose in seventh place.
"I knew the two runners from Denver and Wapsie Valley were good so I was just thinking somewhere around three to six would be good for me," Rose said. "I was hoping for third, but I have gone back-and-forth with those other girls in front of me all year."
Kupka improved her placing by 10 spots this season after coming across in 17th during her junior campaign.