FORT DODGE — She came. She ran. She savored.
Stephanie Jenks of Linn-Mar capped an undefeated freshman season with a Class 4A championship at the state cross country meet Saturday morning. Her time of 13:42 ranks No. 4 all-time at the 4,000-meter distance.
“My mom told me to come here, have fun and enjoy myself, so that’s what I did,” Jenks said.
Jenks took control of the race shortly after the gun went off, winning by 18 seconds over runner-up Ashlynn Yokom of Iowa City West.
“I knew she was behind me,” said Jenks, who ran the first mile in 5:16 and had a 14-second cushion at the mile mark. “I could hear (some of the spectators) yelling, ‘Go Ash, go!’ ”
Jenks’ title highlighted a strong day for Linn-Mar. The girls were 4A runners-up; the boys finished third.
Pleasant Valley captured the girls’ crown with 49 points. Linn-Mar was next with 93, with Johnston edging Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 156-157, for the third-place trophy.
Led by individual champ Jason Thomas, West Des Moines Dowling won its second straight boys’ crown with 60 points. Pleasant Valley was second with 111 points, followed by Linn-Mar (120) and Iowa City West (135).
The pre-race favorite, Jenks didn’t fret Saturday about those she was about to run against.
“I don’t really think about the competition as long as I get a good time,” she said. “I’m happy.”
Amber Decker, another freshman, was 10th for Linn-Mar. Kennedy’s Alyssa Averhoff was eighth.
Yokom passed Dowling’s Karissa Schweizer in the final half-mile to finish second in 14:00.
“The last 800, I knew I had to go fast,” Yokom said. “I wanted to get (Jenks). I always want to get her. You don’t want to settle for anything less than first place. But this is state, you know it’s going to be a fast pace, and I’m pretty happy.”
Thomas emerged from a pack of seven in the final portion of the race and won in 14:51, the first boy to run a sub-15 5K at Lakeside.
Brook Price of Iowa City High was fourth in 15:02; Isaac Jensen of Iowa City West was fifth in 15:06.
“I ran a really tough race, but I wish I had a little more at the end,” Price said. “At the end, it came down to the kick, and they had a little more.”
Last year’s runner-up, Josh Evans of Linn-Mar was ninth. He battled injury through the end of the season, but gutted out a strong effort Saturday.
“I didn’t see that time (15:12) coming,” Evans said. “I was praying that I could give 100 percent, and that’s what I came in and did.”