South Hardin surges to eighth in Class 2A, Mustangs 15th

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • South Hardin sophomore ZaKee Newman, left, kicks on the afterburners as he approaches the finish line during the 2A boys race at the state cross country meet on Saturday in Fort Dodge.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • South Hardin sophomore ZaKee Newman, left, kicks on the afterburners as he approaches the finish line during the 2A boys race at the state cross country meet on Saturday in Fort Dodge.

FORT DODGE — The only two teams to qualify for the Iowa High School State Cross Country Championships in the area this year were the South Hardin and East Marshall boys squads, and it just so happened that the Tigers and Mustangs were pitted against each other in a tough Class 2A boys race.

When the dust had settled, South Hardin came away as the top local team, finishing in eighth with a score of 224, while East Marshall came in 15th with a score of 301.

Tigers head coach Mike Olson said he was happy with the result from his guys, especially considering most of them had never run on the course at the Lakeside Municipal Golf Course.

“Six of the seven guys out here haven’t been on this course before and hadn’t run it,” he said. “You can tell them all about it, you can coach them, you can tell them to calm down and focus all you want but it still freaks them out when they get out in this.”

It was one of those newcomers, sophomore ZaKee Newman, who paced the Tigers and finished with the best local boys placing. Newman came 19th with a time of 17 minutes, four seconds, just two seconds behind his personal record for the year.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

Olson said even though Newman ran well, everyone at the state meet is a good runner so it’s difficult to break away from the pack.

“Everybody here is good, everybody is a good runner and these guys aren’t used to being shuffled that far back in the pack,” he said. “I thought we reacted pretty well, we kept our mind in it for most of it, we just got shuffled back in some places.”

Kolby Winter and Jacob Vander Wilt were the next-highest placers for South Hardin, finishing in 50th and 51st with times of 17:42 and 17:44 respectively.

East Marshall was paced by a good time from junior Cam Hungerford, who finished in 27th with a time of 17:18, but it was the next placers that had a hard time moving up the pack for the Mustangs. Junior Cade Curphy’s time of 18:16 was the next-highest finish for East Marshall, putting him in 86th, and senior Brandon Fogt took 89th with a time of 18:18.

Mustangs head coach Trent Taylor said Hungerford was able to finish right around where they had planned, and his middle runners competed well but in the end it just wasn’t enough.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

“We knew that we had to run three guys in the 17s and we thought maybe if we could get one in the 16s, that was kind of our overall goal,” Taylor said. “Cam did come in at 17:18, which was faster than what he ran last year here, and if you go down to our fifth, Trevor Taul was our number five tonight and he rand his fastest race of the year.”

All week leading up to state, East Marshall was dealing with a bout of illness that held a few kids out of school and practice, and Taylor said that might have had a bit to do with the slower times on Saturday.

“We were dealing with some health issues this week, and that’s no excuse, but the reality is we had some kids that just didn’t feel very well so I couldn’t be more proud of them coming out and dealing with that and still running some decent times,” he said.

Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck didn’t make it as a team to state, but the Spartans did send junior Derek Ciddio to Fort Dodge, where he placed 90th with a time of 18:19.

GC/G-R head coach Andy McQuillen said for his first ever race at the state meet, Ciddio competed very well.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

“I kind of pushed him to get out early and he sat in about 31st for a while,” McQuillen said. “This was his first experience running in that environment and having the foresight to understand the race a little bit and getting a feel for the field, it takes going out there a time to get that down.”

On top of the unfamiliarity with the course, Ciddio said the cool temperatures also hindered his abilities slightly.

“It was a lot of fun, it was a tough course and it was tough to breathe with the weather,” he said.

1A Boys

In the 1A boys race, Caleb Silver from BCLUW and Jackson Edens from GMG were the sole area representatives.

Silver, who made his second appearance at the state meet Saturday, finished in 20th with a time of 17:03, 26 place higher and 44 seconds faster than last year’s time.

Silver said he had his eye on a top-15 medal this season, but ultimately he wanted to go out and represent himself well.

“I just did what I came to do, I wanted to run my race today and do whatever I could to get closer to that top spot,” Silver said. “I feel like I push hard and I just wanted to run my race today and that’s all I was looking for.”

Edens was the first ever GMG boy to qualify for the state meet, and his time of 17:48 was good enough for a 64th-place finish.