Newcomer leads Bobcat girls to 5th

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON - Marshalltown freshman Phoebe Hermanson, center, makes her way along the course at Marshalltown Community College during the Marshalltown Early Bird Invitational on Thursday. Hermanson was the top Bobcat placer, taking 13th in the meet.

Marshalltown freshman Phoebe Hermanson had two firsts on Thursday,

her first day of high school and her first varsity cross country meet.

Make that three firsts actually, since Hermanson excelled in her first race on the varsity level to pace all Bobcat girls with a solid time of 22 minutes, 12 seconds, to place 13th at the 10th annual Marshalltown Early Bird Invitational on the course at Marshalltown Community College.

MHS head coach Stacy O’Hare said she wasn’t sure what to expect out of the talented freshman harrier in her first high school race.

“I am extremely happy with her performance,” O’Hare said. “I knew coming in she was extremely nervous, I feel like I couldn’t get her to settle down while she was warming up, she just wanted to keep moving. I look for great things for her as we move on.”

Hermanson admitted she was feeling the butterflies in her stomach before the meet started, but after watching the junior varsity races before hers started she settled down.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON - Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck senior Lily Ehlers, right, crosses through a stretch of the course at Marshalltown Community College during the Marshalltown Early Bird Invitational on Thursday.

“That always happens for me in the races, it felt pretty good when I got going,” she said.

Hermanson was only beat by runners from three different schools — Des Moines Roosevelt, Ottumwa, Urbandale and South Tama County — and she was the second-highest placing freshman behind Urbandale’s Erin Van Quathem, who took 11th.

After the strong time to start the year, Hermanson said she’s not settling with where she currently is.

“I definitely am looking to improve, but for the first meet I am satisfied with [my time],” she said.

It wasn’t just Hermanson who showed well, however, as Marshalltown placed fifth as a team with a score of 128. Junior Mia Barajas was the next-best finisher, placing 26th with a time of 24:08, and sophomore Odaly Flores followed just behind in 28th with a 24:39. Both Barajas and Flores improved their times from this meet last season by at least 11 seconds.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

Mary Kate Gruening was next on the list, placing 32nd with a 24:47, and Jade Tejada finished fifth on the team and 33rd overall with a 24:48.

“Mia ran really well, Odaly was right there, and Mary Kate and Jade were up there,” O’Hare said. “That was a solid five runners there.”

No matter the sport or how many times you’ve competed in it, the first meet, game, or match of a season can fray the nerves, but O’Hare said her girls handled it well.

“The excitement and all that stuff gets the best of you at times, but now that I’ve seen what they can do and I think they pushed themselves a little bit, I think expectations will go up a little bit in practice now that I see where they are at,” she said. “It just gives us something to work on, but I’m overall pleased.”

Also having such a strong showing from a newcomer like Hermanson is a little added motivation for the other girls, especially the older runners on the team.

“Right now with Phoebe running and pushing people in practice, everyone else is stepping their performance up,” O’Hare said. “You don’t want to get beat out by a freshman, it’s really forced everybody else to work harder. We’ve got a good future ahead of us.”

Frakes takes 12th for STC

The highest area finisher at the Early Bird was South Tama County senior Callie Frakes, who was the top local placer for the second-straight year.

Frakes placed 12th with a time of 22:07, about 15 seconds off her pace from last year, but head coach Robert Tyynissmaa said what he is most encouraged about is Frakes’ health, given she had her season derailed last year with some nagging leg injuries.

“Last year it kind of went downhill from this point forward, but this year we are not anticipating that so we are moving forward,” he said. “Her competition just needs to be harder and she knows that. She hasn’t run a cross country race in about a year.”

Aside from Frakes, nearly every Trojan runner on Thursday was new to the course. Freshman Jojo Tyynissmaa was the next-highest placer, coming in 31st with a 24:46, while sophomore Alyssa Chyma placed 43rd with a 25:30, sophomore Abbagail Froelich took 57th with a 27:46 and junior Makayla Backen came in 61st with a 28:42.

“We had a lot of turnover from last year to this year, so we are a young team. A lot of freshmen and sophomores,” Tyynissmaa said. “A lot of these girls have never done this race before, and their heads were just blown off. They didn’t even think they were going to finish the race, so everyone ran well.”

Ehlers paces GC/G-R to 4th place

Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck senior Lily Ehlers began her final year as a Spartan harrier with another top-20 finish, taking 19th with a time of 22:51.

Ehlers was one of two state qualifiers for GC/G-R last season, along with fellow senior Reegan Zinkula, and new Spartan head coach Jackson Anderson said she has been great so far not only as an athlete, but as a leader.

“Lily had a good race, she started out strong and the thing we have pushed so far is running together and working together,” Anderson said. “Lily led that today and I think those top four or top five, that’s going to be a rotation and a mix, but Lily ran a great race and she has some strong teammates that are going to help push in the right direction.”

Finishing just four seconds behind Ehlers in 20th was freshman Taylor Stahl, who completed her first varsity race in 22:55. Zinkula wasn’t far behind, placing 22nd with a 23:13, and Cora Saak also placed in the top-25, coming in 24th with a 23:36.

Anderson said having four of his girls all finish almost with 30 seconds of each other shows the competition on the team and their want to be present as a Spartan squad at the state meet in Fort Dodge.

“We are setting goals as a team and they know where they want to be come October, so I think all of our girls have worked harder in the first two weeks than they have in years past just because they know they are capable of it and want to do everything in their power to make it back to Dodge,” he said.

Marshalltown Earlybird Meet

At Marshalltown Community College

GIRLS

Team Standings — 1. Des Moines Roosevelt 34, 2. Urbandale 41, 3. Ottumwa 85, 4. Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck 115, 5. Marshalltown 128, 6. Waterloo East/West 157, 7. South Tama 192, 8. Belle Plaine 225, 9. Webster City 240.

Individual (top 10) — 1. Macy Gaskill, URB, 20:18; 2. Alli Bookin-Nosbisch, OTT, 20:27; 3. Megan Fleming, DMR, 20:30; 4. Carrolin Mellin, OTT, 20:39; 5. Sarah Fleming, DMR, 21:08; 6. Kayla Owens, URB, 21:08; 7. Clara Colvig, DMR, 21:15; 8. Abby Huls, URB, 21:16; 9. Anna Gilbreath, DMR, 21:35; 10. Gabi Hoard, DMR, 21:38.

GRUNDY CENTER/GLADBROOK-REINBECK (115) — 19. Lily Ehlers 22:51, 20. Taylor Stahl 22:55, 22. Reegan Zinkula 23:13, 24. Cora Saak 23:36, 35. Shelby Rivera 23:36, 43. Sarah Lindeman 25:37, 59. Lauren Wegmann 27:52.

MARSHALLTOWN (128) — 13. Phoebe Hermanson 22:12, 26. Mia Barajas 24:08, 27. Odaly Flores 24:39, 32. Mary Kate Gruening 24:47, 33. Jade Tejada 24:48, 56. Tana Underhill 27:44, 63. Taylor Hoffman 29:31.

SOUTH TAMA COUNTY (192) — 12. Callie Frakes 22:07, 31. Jojo Tyynismaa 24:46; 43. Alyssa Chyma 25:30; 57. Abbagail Froelich 27:46; 61. Makayla Backen 28:42, 64. Neena Lasley 30:09.