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Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Leah Seivert of the Sibley-Ocheyedan Generals has been winning high school cross country races this fall with surprising ease.

Cross country: Seivert's star shines bright

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sports Worthington, 56187
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

SIBLEY—For Sibley-Ocheyeden senior Leah Seivert, a newspaper article was all it took to jolt her into action.

Some six years removed from a 5K race she and her mom once prepared for, the younger Seivert is still running. She’ll graduate next May, but is enjoying one last hoorah for the Generals’ girls cross country squad, hoping to earn a state title in her final try. She has come out with a silver effort in all three of her previous attempts.

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“My mom found this ‘couch to 5K’ program. We started by walking together and built up to running,” Seivert says. “I don’t remember how I finished in that 5K, but I was just running for fun.”

Moving ahead to her middle school career, Seivert turned in a few first place finishes, and the gold medals started piling up. Pretty soon, it became apparent that she wouldn’t be a run-of-the-mill cross country runner. As a senior, Seivert now sits as the second-ranked female runner in Iowa’s Class 1A by the Iowa Association of Track and Field Coaches.

“It really started to hit me after my freshman year that I had something special that God had given me,” Seivert said.

Class 1A currently is led in ranking by Rebekah Topham of Griswold. In third place comes Eagle Grove senior Tiffany Christensen. As it stands for now, Seivert is the lone Class 1A girl who is ranked in the Daily Globe coverage area.

Seivert has won each race she has entered this fall, and none have been close fights.

“I think my closest this year was at Sheldon,” Seivert commented. “It was about 50 seconds ahead, and that has been my closest so far. I just want to see my times keep improving and, at state, I’ve improved every year.”

At state, down in Fort Dodge, Seivert’s goal is to break the 14-minute mark this fall. While that is a tall task for her to achieve, she finished 14 seconds behind that mark last year. Topham won by turning in a time of 14:05 as Griswold also won the team title.

For Keith Swenson, head coach for S-O cross country, there is no shortage of things to say regarding what Seivert has been able to accomplish. Swenson also praises his entire squad, both boys and girls, for what they have accomplished all season.

“It has really been fun to watch Leah improve throughout her career. Every year she keeps running faster and faster and people wonder how she does it,” Swenson said. “Well, it’s simple … total dedication and working longer and harder every year. She’s so determined to accomplish her goals, and I am very proud of her.

“I am also proud of all of my runners,” coach Swenson added. “The boys do not have a complete team but are improving individually. The girls just started running as a team and, if they stay healthy, hopefully they will perform well at the state qualifying meet.”

The Generals have struggled to always field an entire team for this fall due to low numbers and injuries. Seivert says, even so, she enjoys the time she spends with her teammates. It is a group made up of three seniors and three freshmen.

S-O goes to George-Little Rock this afternoon for a meet in George. The gun goes off at 5 p.m.

“My teammates are so supportive and we do pasta parties sometimes before meets or do other activities together,” Seivert said. “We’ve tie-dyed socks for one of them or have done other activities together. We get along well.”

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