Experienced young runners powers Newton boys’ cross country team

Youth powers the Newton boys’ cross country team in 2013. The Cardinals have veteran junior leadership, but no seniors back on the squad.

Newton did lose its No. 1 runner from a year ago — then-freshman Cooper McDermont qualified for the 2012 Iowa Class 4A State Cross Country Meet. McDermont moved from Newton.

“We have six or seven kids who have put in a lot of miles during summer conditioning. I see us contenders for the conference championship,” said Tom Bartello, who takes over as head coach from his father John Bartello. John Bartello isn’t far away, he is back as an assistant coach this season.

Juniors Christian Laube and Jacob Thomas are the top runners back on the course for the Cardinal cross country team.

Laube led the Cardinals to a fifth-place finish at the Little Hawkeye Conference meet last year, earning All-Conference honors for his seventh-place finish in 17 minutes, 4 seconds for the 5K distance. Laube placed 17th in the Class 4A district meet.

“Jacob and Chistian have the potential of running with the leaders in every meet we go to this season plus qualifying for the state meet,” Bartello said. “We also have two sophomores back who ran well as freshmen in Jwan Roush and Chase Dykstra.”

Bartello coached the Newton Middle School cross country boys the past three years. He is the NHS boys’ track coach.

Others back on the squad this season are juniors Justin Simms, Grant Osborn and Zach Thies.

The Cardinals gain the Little Hawkeye Conference middle school champion in freshman Brennan Dodd.

“We’re expecting about 20 kids out this season. We have several other younger runners who could step up and run well. They will have to get used to the longer high school distance,” Barello said.

Newton opens the 2013 cross country season Thursday, Aug. 29, at the Gilbert Invitational meet on the Iowa State University cross country course in Ames. Races begin at 5:30 p.m.