Flores flourishes in MHS season finale

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown freshman Odaly Flores, left, makes her way through the cross country course at Marshalltown Community College on Thursday during the Class 4A state-qualifying meet.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown freshman Odaly Flores, left, makes her way through the cross country course at Marshalltown Community College on Thursday during the Class 4A state-qualifying meet.

There was a new name at the top of the Marshalltown girls cross country team finish on Thursday in the Class 4A state-qualifying at the Marshalltown Community College course, as freshman Odaly Flores took the top Bobcat placing in the last meet of the season for MHS.

Flores ran a time of 23 minutes, 31 seconds, to place 51st in the meet, her best time in the four races at home this season and the first time she’s finished as the first Bobcat all year.

Usual top runner Mary Kate Gruening missed her second-straight meet due to a bout of pneumonia, which opened the door for Flores. Finishing just behind the freshman were three more MHS runners in the next three spots, as Jade Tejada, Kaci Uhde and Aida Almanza each took 52nd, 53rd and 54th respectively.

Marshalltown head coach Stacy O’Hare said Flores taking the top spot was a nice surprise, and as a whole she thought the girls ran well as a group, she just wanted them to get out and compete a little more against other teams.

“It’s nice to see that one night it can be one kid and the next night it’s another one, that just shows they are competing and each night they are pushing themselves,” O’Hare said. “Sometimes we tend to compete against ourselves and our own team, not the other teams, but this is tough competition and we talked about how fast it was going to be tonight.”

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown’s Mia Barajas, right, heads into the last third of the cross country course at Marshalltown Community College on Thursday while competing in the Class 4A state-qualifying meet.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown’s Mia Barajas, right, heads into the last third of the cross country course at Marshalltown Community College on Thursday while competing in the Class 4A state-qualifying meet.

With Flores finishing at the top, five of the seven meets this season for MHS cross country had a freshman taking the top spot for the Bobcats. O’Hare said having Flores and Gruening moving forward, as well as the strong sophomore group of Almanza, Uhde, Tejada and Mia Barajas, should help the team develop as they continue to work together.

“Now that we have Mary Kate and Odaly as freshmen, they mix real well with these other kids and I think there are actually some pretty good junior high kids who can come in and will also continue to push these other kids too so they don’t feel comfortable in their spot,” she said.

On the team end, Marshalltown came in 10th with a score of 274. Des Moines Roosevelt took the top spot with a 42, while Urbandale and Linn-Mar finished in second and third respectively to round of the team state qualifications.

Like the CIML Iowa Conference meet last week, O’Hare said her girls were a little jittery at the start, which caused them to fall off as the race continued.

“I think our girls did a nice job of getting out, they go out fast again we just aren’t able to hold on like some of these other teams are,” she said. “That could just be conditioning and us not being right there, it’s been tough without Mary Kate though and Victoria Johnson, one of our seniors, is injured too. It’s been kind of a rough week with kids being sick or hurt.”

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

Now that the season is over for Bobcats cross country, there is a lot to look forward to moving forward. Marshalltown returns most of its top finishers from the past season next year, and most of those girls are currently only freshmen and sophomores.

O’Hare said having so much time left to work with these girls should bode well for the team in the near future.

“Our future looks bright, not only are most of these kids going to be back next, they will be back the next two or three years,” she said. “They are very young and they enjoy the sport, they are coachable and they listen and want to get better. Whether they came out and performed their best tonight or not, I think we have a lot to look forward to heading into next year.”

Of course, all the work during the season can only take a team so far, and O’Hare said if her girls want to take the next step and earn a team qualification for the first time since 2007, they have to continue to work at their craft heading into 2018.

“We need to put in some more time in the offseason, over the summer we need to put in a few more miles than we did, getting out and running so we get that base and don’t have to spend so much time at the beginning of the year building that base and getting our conditioning down,” O’Hare said. “If we can put in some more miles during the summer that will be good, it’s a young group of kids that run as a pack in races so they really need to try to do that in the summer.”

Class 4A State Qualifying Meet

At Marshalltown Community College

GIRLS

Team Standings — 1. Des Moines Roosevelt 42, 2. Urbandale 52, 3. Linn-Mar 59, 4. Ames 108, 5. Cedar Rapids Kennedy 109, 6. Mason City 188, 7. Newton 215, 8. Cedar Rapids Jefferson 232, 9. Fort Dodge 242, 10. Marshalltown 274.

Individual (top 10) — 1. Micah Poellet, LM, 18:30; 2. Lilly Geelan, LM, 19:24; 3. Macy Gaskill, URB, 19:44; 4. Isabel Buchanan, DMR, 19:50; 5. Kayla Owens, URB, 19:51; 6. Megan Fleming, DMR, 19:51; 7. Clara Colvig, DMR, 20:10; 8. Hannah Fusselman, CRK, 20:15; 9. Avery Peterson, URB, 20:17; 10. Casille Jackson, AMES, 20:18.

MARSHALLTOWN (274) — 52. Odaly Flores 23:31, 53. Jade Tejada 23:46, 54. Kaci Uhde 24:02, 55. Aida Almanza 24:05, 60. Mia Barajas 25:12, 66. Pricila Vergara 26:18.