The Northeast boys cross country team has made it a habit of finishing their season with somebody at the state cross country meet.
With an influx of young talent, the Rebels girls are hoping to set the stage for their own run of success.
For each of the past nine years, a navy Northeast uniform has been found in the 2A boys field.
Sometimes there has been a lot of them — team trips in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014 — sometimes there has been just one, but for nearly a decade the Rebels have been present in Fort Dodge.
And with the return of two-time state qualifier Andrew Hilgendorf, Northeast plans on being there again.
After two state finishes just outside the top 30, Hilgendorf has a 2A state medal in his sights.
The senior, who is ranked 18th in 2A, ran his second-fastest time of the season — 17:34 — at state last fall, and has already finished under that clocking twice in this young season.
If Hilgendorf earns a third straight trip to Fort Dodge, he would love some company and Northeast has enough veteran runners to oblige.
Five of the seven Rebels who competed in last year’s 2A state-qualifying are back — all of them, besides Hilgendorf, juniors.
Thomas Machande and Nathan Ketelsen have both hovered around 19 minutes in the early season.
Machande ran a personal-best 18:55 at the Schoolhouse Open, while Ketelsen finished right at 19 minutes a week later at Tipton.
Joe Hasken was 22nd at the state-qualifying meet with his season-best clocking of 18:04, while Jace Rathje has broken 20 minutes in two of his first four races this fall.
A fifth junior, Zebediah Cox, has also seen varsity action in the early going after competing in four varsity races last year, and Northeast has received a lift from seniors Jarod Berggren, Chad Williams, a state track veteran, and freshman Daniel Rowland.
It is a new era for the Northeast girls team, which has seen an uptick in numbers despite graduating both of its varsity runners from the year before.
A trio of freshmen have led the way early.
Cenady Soenksen has finished in the top five in each of her first five meets, including a victory in a dual with Clinton and a third-place finish at the 17-team Tipton Invitational.
Grace Ketelsen has steadily lowered her times during the Rebels’ first four races and so has Faith Ketelsen, who finished under 24 minutes for the first time at Northeast’s home invitational.
A fourth freshman, Natalie Krogman, has run in each of the team’s first five meets and so has junior Emma Ketelsen.
Sophomores Annika Regenwether and Emi Feller, meanwhile, have impressed in early junior varsity races.