FORT DODGE - The BCLUW boys cross country team carried a message from their coach with them at the Iowa High School State Cross Country Meet Saturday.
On their skin to be precise.
With permanent marker, each Comet had an etching of a heart around the letter 'H', signifying a mind-over-matter approach that head coach Donna Fiscus has preached to her squad many times.
T-R PHOTO BY TYLER STRAND
BCLUW’s Derek Coulter charges uphill en route to a 16th place finish at the Iowa High School State Cross Country Meet Saturday. Making his third consecutive trip to Fort Dodge, the junior turned in his best performance yet by improving 17 spots from 2011.
"Once you get your head and your heart in the right direction, you don't have to worry about your feet," said junior Derek Coulter, who finished 16th in a time of 17 minutes, 21 seconds to lead the No. 12-ranked Comets to a 12th-place finish with a score 240. It was Coulter's third trip to Fort Dodge and his best finish ever - 17 spots ahead of last year.
"It basically means that if you think that you can do it and have confidence then you don't really have to worry about being in shape."
It was a fitting reminder for BCLUW, which welcomed back its No. 2 runner, Ben Kuhl, who has missed the final three weeks of the season with an injury.
"Getting Ben back for this meet - after missing the last few weeks, I was just very pleased that he was able to stay up there," said Fiscus.
Kuhl took Fiscus' lesson to heart and was the Comets' third runner Saturday placing 65th in a time of 17:55, while Clark Jackley was one place ahead in 16:44. It was Jackley's second state meet after taking 60th a year ago.
"We didn't know what to expect from Ben after that long of a break, but he did well. They all did really well," said Fiscus.
"They were already a success just making it here (without Ben)."
It was the seventh straight trip to state for the Comets and their ninth in the last 10 years.
Branden Storjohann (55th) and Tanner Teske (86th) completed BCLUW's team score.
Reigning state champion Council Bluffs St. Albert, No. 1 in Class 1A, defended the team title with a score of 68. Fourth in 2011, Josh Sindelar led the Falcons claiming individual honors in 16:15.
East Marshall junior Ben Terrones, rated No. 29, tried to take a more business as usual approach to his first state competition, though still admitted that his emotions were high.
"It was exciting being in my first one, but I just took it like any other meet," said Terrones, who led the No. 15 Mustangs to an 13th place finish (284) placing 27th in a time of 17 minutes.
While Terrones, was just off his goal of a top-25 finish, the Mustangs - making their first trip to Fort Dodge since 2009 - made their mark as a team.
"We were the second to last seed so if we beat that we accomplished our goal," said Terrones.
Caleb Benzing was close behind Terrones taking 29th in 17:07. Drew Schossow (63rd), Rob Petrie (65th) and Seth Webb (100th) also figured into the Mustangs' final tally.
South Hardin senior John Stanish saw his trials of miles come to fruition in his state debut Saturday, taking 64th in 17:34.
"It's real rewarding. It feels like all the work over the last four years has paid off," said Stanish.
Fellow Tiger Tim Rose, a junior, tried his hand with the front pack but ultimately ran out of steam later on.
"John had a real nice race and went out on his terms. Tim went out real hard and tried to stick his nose in there early. He paid the price in the middle, but I'm sure he will grow from it next year," said South Hardin coach Mike Olson.
Top-ranked and defending champion Monticello was at the top of the standings again with a score of 52. Spirit Lake's No. 1 rated Will Norris, last year's runner-up, outran the field in 15:25.