For nearly two decades, the Heartland Classic has been a beacon for elite runners across the Midwest. This year is set to continue that tradition, welcoming teams from Nebraska, South Dakota, Kansas, and Iowa. Among the participants are several top-ranked athletes, all eager to make their mark on the Central College course and vie for the coveted Heartland title.
With last year’s event boasting 31 girls’ teams and 37 boys’ teams, this year promises a similarly impressive turnout. This Saturday’s race isn’t just another meet; it’s a gathering of the Midwest’s finest, a display of skill and determination. Mark your calendar, because the Heartland Classic is an event you won’t want to miss.
With a lineup brimming with talent, singling out just a few ranked teams for this article is no easy feat. By honing in on the top 5 from various classes across the Midwest, we unveil a selection of strong contenders vying for the title this Saturday.
South Dakota: Our neighbors to the northwest send a single team currently ranked #1 on Athletic.net. The Patriots showcased their strength at the Heartland preview meet on September 9th, sealing a 4th place finish and emerging as the top South Dakota team. Their stats include a team average of 16:29 and a 1:35 spread.
Nebraska: The Cornhusker State is undeniably loaded with talent. The spotlight shines on three schools within the top 5 of Class ‘A’:
- #2 Fremont: Fresh off their remarkable performance at the Augustana Twilight, where they secured 2nd place just behind the stalwarts, Creighton Prep. They clocked in a team average of 16:31 with a 2:19 spread.
- #4 Millard West & #5 Papillion-La Vista South: These two titans collided at the Platte River Rumble on September 8th, with Papillion-La Vista South emerging victorious.
Kansas: The Sunflower State is represented by a single team this year, but what a team it is! Gardner-Edgerton, presently ranked #1 in 6A, recently dazzled at the Olathe Twilight. They not only clinched 4th overall but also were the top Kansas team finishing with a solid 16:13 average. Coach Walt Cochran undoubtedly has this team primed for a potential triumph in Iowa.
Iowa: The host state boasts a large number of ranked boys’ teams. Among the top five from various classes gracing the event are:
- 4A: #3 Ankeny, #4 Dowling, #4 Dallas Center-Grimes, and #5 Norwalk
- 3A: #1 Gilbert and #2 Pella
- 2A: #1 Des Moines Christian
Other Notable Ranked Teams:
- Nebraska ‘A’: #8 Lincoln South West
- Iowa 4A: #6 Waukee, Northwest, #11 Dubuque Hempstead, #12 Pleasant Valley, #13 Waukee, #16 Cedar Rapids Prairie, #18 Indianola, and #20 Iowa City High
- Iowa 3A: #8 Glenwood
- Iowa 1A: #6 Pekin
With such a competitive roster, Saturday’s showdown promises to be thrilling!