The CIML has always been a source of stiff competition on the cross country course.
Doubling in size under the realignment, the uphill battle for supremacy only got steeper in the newly formed Central Iowa Conference.
Facing four ranked squads including defending state champion Dowling Catholic, the Marshalltown boys cross country team found out first hand, placing 10th out of 11 teams at the inaugural CIC Conference Championship at Marshalltown Community College Thursday.
T-R PHOTO BY TYLER STRAND
Marshalltown’s Nathan Phillips charges to the finish at the CIC Championship meet at MCC Thursday. Phillips crossed the finish in a time of 18:03 to place 59th in the field.
T-R PHOTO BY TYLER STRAND
"There's no question, this has always been a very tough conference. When we expanded it from six to 12 (schools), it just magnified the intensity and the competition," said MHS coach Tim Bell.
The Bobcats tallied a score of 280, while the top-ranked Maroons dominated the field - placing all five scoring runners in the top eight for a score of 23. No. 11 Waukee took second with a tally of 87, while No. 10 Johnston (97) held off No. 9 West Des Moines Valley (98) for third. Ames and Ankeny, both returning state qualifiers, rounded out the top six with scores of 106 and 186, respectively.
Zach Wells led Marshalltown placing 32nd in a time of 16 minutes, 57 seconds, and was one of 33 runners to complete the course under 17:00.
Team Standings - 1. Dowling Catholic 23, 2. Waukee 87, 3. Johnston 97, 4. WDM Valley 98, 5. Ames 106, 6. Ankeny 186, 7. Urbandale 214, 8. SE Polk 218, 9. Mason City 239, 10. Marshalltown 280, 11. Fort Dodge 281
Individual (top 10) - 1. Ben Anderson, VAL, 15:35; 2. Jason Thomas, DC, 15:40; 3. Spencer Clark, DC, 15:51; 4. Jeff DeRocher, DC, 15:54; 5. Tyson Wieland, JOHN, 16:06; 6. Brian Wahlig, DC, 16:06; 7. Daniel Lee, AMES, 16:10; 8. Lukas Steffensmeier, DC, 16:12; 9. Daniel Soto, VAL, 16:17; 10. Ben Forney, AMES, 16:18
Marshalltown (280) - 32. Zach Wells, 16:57; 50. Daniel Talbert, 17:33; 59. Nathan Phillips, 18:03; 68. Trae Petersen, 18:27, 71. Nestor Sanchez, 18:33; 73. Sam Johnson, 18:42; 75. Hunter Barnard, 19:10.
Defending state champion Ben Anderson, the top-ranked runner in Class 4A, held off a late charge from No. 16 Jason Clark (15:40) of Dowling Catholic for the individual title clocking 15:35. As a whole, the boys' race featured nine runners ranked in the state's top-30, four from the Maroons.
Daniel Talbert came through in 50th, while Nathan Phillips (59th), Trae Petersen (68th) and Nestor Sanchez (71st) completed the Bobcats' team score. Sam Johnson and Hunter Barnard were close behind placing 73rd and 75th respectively.
"Certainly we didn't finish as high as we hoped and what we're used to finishing. However, we have a chance next week to come back and try to put it together at the state qualifier. That will be a loaded field as well," said Bell.
Wells, who placed 41st at last year's state meet, will vie for a return trip though he was the first to admit that he'll need a better performance next week.
"It was incredible competition. The course is just what I'm used to, I just didn't run very well today," said Wells.
Fortunately, Wells and the rest of the Bobcats return to the MCC course to host the state qualifier next Thursday at 3:30 p.m.
"I qualified for state here last year, I don't know why I can't do it again," said Wells.
Bell believes Wells and the rest of the squad can only benefit from racing on familiar terrain.
"I'm confident that Zach will bounce back next week and really get after it. It should be a good opportunity for our guys to know the course and to feel comfortable. It will be a very tough meet, but we always love running in front of our home crowd," said Bell.
Though not quite as arduous as the CIC field, the state qualifier contingent will still provide several elite adversaries including No. 6 Cedar Falls, No. 7 Linn Mar and No. 14 Waterloo West. Mason City, Newton, Ottumwa and Southeast Polk round out the field.
The top three teams and top 10 individuals will advance to the state meet in Fort Dodge.
With the trials of miles already completed, Bell believes next Thursday's race will be a test of mind over matter for the Bobcats.
"Next week all of our guys are going to have to be really mentally into the race and just compete - not worry about times, but just compete. We'll let the chips fall where they may," said Bell.
"All the miles that you've put in during the summer, the training, you've got to trust that that's going to get you through it. And it will, but you have to believe in it."
Alex Heinrichs led the Marshalltown JV boys to a 10th place finish (288) out of 12 squads, placing 51st overall. Dowling Catholic took the team title with a score of 20.
Ellis Lincoln paced the Bobcats' freshmen/sophomore squad with a 22nd place finish as Marshalltown took ninth. Johnston topped the field tallying 40 points.