Teens made a strong showing in the Ag Days 6k race on the Spring Valley trail Saturday, Aug. 21, as a 16-year old had the fastest time. Cole Kruegel was the first finisher in the 2021 race with a time of 24:19. Two other teens were close on his heels, though, as Andrew Imm finished second with a time of 24:39 and Garrison Hubka took third with a time of 24:57. The three Spring Valley teens are all 16 years old and members of the Kingsland cross-country team.
The first female across the finish line was Jenna Steeves, 32, of Milford, Connecticut, with a time of 27:12. She is the daughter of Steve Tammel, who volunteered to drive the bus full of runners to the starting line. Steeves was also the female winner in 2018, the last time she ran the local race.
A teen winner is a repeat of the last Ag Days 6k trail race. The Ag Days race wasn’t held in 2020 due to the pandemic. In 2019, Treyton Lanning, 14, of Chatfield, became the youngest ever winner of the race, which became a 6k race on the trail in 2013. Previously the race was 5k in length and the course was on roads in Spring Valley, starting at Spring Creek Park.
Since then, the race has started on County Road 8 near the city camping area with runners heading onto the paved trail and following it all the way to Willow Park. The course is 3.72 miles long.
Kruegel previously played football in the fall, but last season he was allowed to play football and run cross-country for Kingsland. This year, he is focusing solely on cross-country. However, in cross-country meets this year, Hubka is usually the one in front of the Kingsland High School cross-country team. At a Hayfield invitational meet Sept. 9, Hubka took first and Kruegel finished second overall in a field of a dozen teams.
A total of 49 runners signed up for the 2021 race. There were plenty of young runners as 16 of them, or nearly a third, were age 18 or younger. The field even included a 9-year-old, Carson Smith of Spring Valley. Every age group was represented up to the 60s, which included three women older than 60.
Youth 14 and younger: Dalton Pischke of Elkton and Kylie Meyer of Spring Valley.
Age 19 and under: Imm and Susan Mettler of Spring Valley.
Age 20 to 29: Isaac Watson of Spring Valley.
Age 30 to 39: Dan Hershberger and Heather Betts, both of Spring Valley.
Age 40 to 49: Nils Wahlander and Angela Boysen, both of Spring Valley.
Age 50 to 59: Bruce Meyer and Sarah Kohn, both of Spring Valley.
Age 60 to 69: Sharon McGill of Stewartville.
Volunteers included Dave and Marlene Foster at the finish line, Kristi Mettler at the registration table, and Brenda and Matt Stier and Pam Phillips at the aid station. Tammel also officially started the runners and the Kingsland School District provided a bus to transport the runners from Willow Park to the starting line.
Next year’s race will be held Saturday, Aug. 20, with plans to run the same course. Any suggestions for improvement are welcome. Also, don’t forget the Frozen Feet 4k during Christmas on Historic Broadway Avenue on Dec. 11. This is a fun run that supports Kingsland youth football.