FORT DODGE — Clear skies and brisk air provided an inviting way for the 2013 cross country season to end for Iowa’s high school athletes.
Prairie City-Monroe, Collins-Maxwell/Baxter, Colfax-Mingo and Lynnville-Sully each sent competitors to the meet. There were some seniors back for one last run, freshman ready to make a mark and sophomores and juniors prepared to start a tradition.
Colfax-Mingo’s freshman runner Dakota Hostetter finished off a fantastic freshman campaign with a 13th place finish in the Class 1A race. Her time of 15 minutes, 36.5 seconds was her second fastest on the season. She and her coach Zach Tomas discussed some strategy that might help her overcome what could sometimes be an overwhelming experience for a freshman runner.
“When we were talking race strategy we discussed the importance of starting the race fast,” Tomas said. “She put herself in a good position early and maintained that for the entire race.”
“It was all about starting fast, just getting out to a really good start and maintaining it throughout,” Hostetter added.
Hostetter admitted she was a tad intimidated by the girth of both the field and the crowd, but her whole team came up to provide support, something she said was both needed and appreciated.
“It was scary, but fun,” she said. “I was happy to have my whole team come up with me. That was the most fun part, just to seem them all there for support.”
Lynnville-Sully’s entire girls’ team got an opportunity to run, and the Hawks took advantage of their moment. L-S finished fifth overall with 145 points in Class 1A. Pekin won the state title with 81 points, followed by Pochontas Area (113), Elkader Central (126) and South Wineshiek (142).
“The girls’ team has been one of the best teams in Class 1A over the last four years, having made it to the state meet in 2010, 2012 and now this year,” L-S coach Darin Arkema said. “In 2010, they finished 9th and were 10th last year. For them to finish in 5th place on Saturday and just 3 points from 4th was an absolutely awesome performance by all of them. It is the highest team finish at state for a Lynnville-Sully team since 1996 when the girls’ team was state champions.”
Leading the charge for the Hawks was senior Tara Vos. Vos finished 31st with a time of 16:06. She was happy with her effort and even more pleased to have her whole team there to run with her.
“I thought I did good,” Vos said. “It was hard, but having so many people to keep up with actually helped out. Having my whole team there definitely made it easier on me. I was proud of how the team finished, both the seniors and the new runners as well.”
Senior Alexa Vander Leest placed four spots behind Vos with a time of 16:11. That was her fastest time of the season by more than 20 seconds, according to Arkema. She has been on all three Hawk teams that went to state the past four years.
“I felt like I did pretty good. It really was easier than I thought it was going to be,” Vander Leest said. “It was over so quick. There’s so many people, and the crowd is so charged up. It’s really excited. I was happy with how are team finished. We beat three teams that we really weren’t supposed to. That makes me really proud.”
Cori Rice was four spots behind Vander Leest, running 16:15. She was followed by Karli Roozeboom in 44th at 16:22. Elizabeth Van Manen was 95th in 17:53. Kasiah Ehresman ran 104th at 18:12, and Line Ascanius placed 116th at 18:42.
Arkema had plenty to say about all of his girls’ runners following what was an exciting day for Lynnville-Sully cross country.
“Cori improved on last year’s showing by seven seconds and I’m sure will be looking to get one more chance to race here next year,” Arkema said. “Karli had a tremendous improvement from last year’s race, dropping over 30 seconds. Elizabeth, Kasiah, and Line all got their first taste of what the state cross country meet was all about. They seemed relaxed and handled things very well prior to the race. They did a good job of getting off the starting line, but not getting caught up into a crazy fast start.”
Another reason for Arkema’s excitement was sophomore Canyon Kuhlman — the lone Hawk boy at state. Kuhlman took 49th overall with a run of 17:52.9. He was surprisingly calm and confident, and it showed in his run. Kuhlman talked about his race afterwards.
“I felt really proud of how I ran,” Kuhlman said. “I really didn’t think it was that hard to be hones. The spectators really helped. I liked all the cheering and the noise. It’s a fun environment for me. I’m proud of how I ran, and I just want to keep improving from here.”’
“Canyon might have been one of the youngest if not the youngest to ever qualify individually for the state meet from Lynnville-Sully,” Arkema added. “Watching him, you wouldn’t have guessed him to be a sophomore or a first time qualifier. He was prepared and relaxed, had a goal and game plan, and raced tough. He improved a bunch from his freshman to sophomore year, and learned a lot over the course of this season to become a smarter runner. I believe he’ll put in the work and training to get stronger and improve.”
For CMB, Raider senior Mark Deutsch was a lone wolf at the state meet. Deutsch finished off his career as a Raider distance runner with an 85th place run of 18:14. According to CMB coach Jerry Meinerts, the overall result was a little bit disappointing, but he commented on the terrific experience it was to be at the meet.
“What a great experience for Mark,” Meinerts said. “Mark had a great season, ran some great times this year, earning all conference honors in one of the best cross country conferences in the state, finishing top 10 at the state qualifying meet.”
“Some meets you run well, and some meets you just don’t have it, and unfortunately today was one of those days,” Meinerts added. “I think that Mark went out a little fast running that first mile around 5:12, struggled that second mile, but really composed himself and ran a great last mile.”
PCM had freshman Rachel Stafford compete in her first trip to stare. Stafford’s time of 16:49.2 placed her 61st overall. The time was a personal-best on the season for Stafford, according to the team’s statistics listed on ia.milesplit.com.