Alex Jackson learned just what state cross country is all about on Saturday.
Jackson, a Fort Dodge sophomore, finished 78th in the Class 4A boys race at Lakeside Golf Course.
Jason Thomas of Dowling Catholic captured the individual gold, leading the Maroons to the team title as well.
For Jackson, this was his first time experiencing the state atmosphere in any sport.
"What a cool experience," Jackson remarked. "I think I let the adrenaline get the best of me early, but I tried to just stay with the pack and run with them."
Jackson clocked a time of 16:35 after advancing to state with a sixth place finish at districts last week.
"State is just a whole different race," said FDSH head coach Tim Hanson. "This was good for Alex to experience it and see what it was all about, how he needed to race, and now, what he needs to do to compete.
"He's typically more of a slow starter, but he went out that first mile and gave it his all. At state, you can't start slow because you will be left behind and Alex knew that."
Jackson said he stayed focused throughout the race, not letting the big stage get the better of him while competing. He added, "but this was the happiest meet of my life. Now, I want to make sure I work hard and am able to get back here (next year)."
Hanson echoed those thoughts, saying, "the entire team was here cheering on Alex and I know that will motivate them to train and work hard this offseason so they can run with him next year.
"This was a great learning tool for Alex and our team. We can definitely use this as a building block for the future."
Fort Dodge was left out of the state meet a year ago. Reed Russell qualified in 2010, snapping a two-year drought from the race.