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Humboldt’s Quinton Orr tries to push Nate Mueller of Ballard during the Class 3A boys state cross country race at Lakeside on Friday. For more photos, please visit

The state cross country meet was the perfect setting for the final installment in a storied rivalry between Quinton Orr and Nate Mueller.

Orr, a senior from Humboldt, was unable to dethrone Mueller, a senior from Adel-ADM, earning his third consecutive second place finish in Class 3A here Friday at the state meet inside Kennedy Park at Lakeside Golf Course.

With the silver finish, Orr becomes just the second runner ever to place third at state three times. His Humboldt teammate, Eric Wittrock, capped his own standout career by placing 16th overall.

“Not winning sucks, but that’s part of cross country,” Orr admitted after the race. “I have a lot to be proud of and my hard work has definitely paid off. It sucks not being on top, but that’s part of running. It’s all relative.

“I’m not trying to be cocky, but I think I’m one of the best in the state; I just didn’t back up being the best in the state (Friday).”

Dallas Center-Grimes was crowned team champions followed by Solon and Carlisle. In the 3A girls race, Ballard took home the team title behind first and second place finishes by sophomores Shewaye Johnson and Paityn Noe.

Orr, who got the better of Mueller earlier this year at the Ballard Invitational, finished in a time of 15:48 to Mueller’s 15:28.7.

“Running against Nate has made me a better runner,” Orr said. “You can’t run fast without fast people to push you. I’m ready to race him again and it’ll be a fun track season.”

During the regular season, Orr captured titles at each meet he entered including the stacked Fort Dodge Invitational, which featured some of the top runners in Class 4A, and the North Central Conference championship.

Orr also became the first Humboldt boy to qualify for state four times, set several course records and led the team to numerous team titles.

“I’m really proud of what I and all my teams and teammates have accomplished throughout the years,” Orr said.

During the race, Orr found himself in a difficult starting spot before putting together a fast first mile. However, he admitted to starting to “tire about 3k in.”

“I realized I was at my now-or-never movement and tried to make my move to win the race there,” he said. “I wasn’t able to create enough distance and Nate covered and started to pick it up. By then, I was starting to fatigue and was doing everything I could to just hold on.

“The last 800, my legs were dying. I still finished hard, but I was fading.”

Wittrock, making his second appearance at state, finished in 16:47.8, just behind 15th place finisher Jacob Ewers from Dallas Center-Grimes.

Algona’s Moriah Knapp, a sophomore, was 51st in a time of 20:32.7. Also from the NCC, Lydia Maas of Hampton-Dumont/CAL was eighth overall and Ellie Meyer from Iowa Falls-Alden placed 10th.

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