Bobcat boys fifth at CIML Iowa meet

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON - Marshalltown freshman Conner Smith, right, makes his way down the final stretch at the CIML Iowa Conference meet in Pleasant Hill on Thursday.

PLEASANT HILL — The Marshalltown boys cross country team not only faced a tough set of teams in the CIML Iowa Conference meet on Thursday at Southeast Polk High School, it did so with a vast gap in experience.

The Bobcats were the only squad in the six-team field without a single senior competing, and they still managed to take fifth with a score of 148.

MHS head coach Chad Pietig said his guys did well to stand toe-to-toe with some of the top runners in the Class 4A.

“I am pretty pleased with the way they ran, I don’t think they were overwhelmed with the competition,” Pietig said. “I am happy with the way they competed, we ran in that second pack, which is probably where we should. We ran four sophomores, two freshmen and a junior and I will take that effort from those guys every single week.”

The meet was originally supposed to run in Marshalltown at the Marshalltown Community College course, but that was changed a few days before to preserve the course for the district meet next week.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON - Marshalltown sophomores Eli Thiessen, middle, and Freddy Ross, right, run along an early stretch of the CIML Iowa Conference meet in Pleasant Hill on Thursday.

Pietig said given this was the first time his guys had ever run in Pleasant Hill and they competed with the likes of Waukee and Southeast Polk, it was a good experience for his young team.

“This was a really good race for them to build on,” he said. “Tough course, tough competition but I think they handled it pretty well. Their times are comparable to things they have run on easier courses, I think they are getting better and stronger and now is the right time to be doing that.”

Freshman Conner Smith was the top placer for the Bobcats, coming in 22nd with a time of 18 minutes, 25 seconds.

“That tells you how good the competition is when that is 22nd,” Pietig said of Smith’s time. “He ran 18:25 and he broke 18 minutes just last week on a short course, a course that was barely three miles, so that right there tells me he is running great right now. When you can run this tough of a course and be almost the same as an easy, flat course, that speaks pretty well of where he’s at right now.”

Eli Thiessen was next for MHS in 28th with a 19:03, Freddy Ross followed in 31st with a 19:15, Marcus Barker took 32nd with a 19:17, Noah Hermanson came in 35th at 19:40, Zach Bitker was hot on his heels in 36th with a 19:41 and Ethan Benscoter rounded things out in 39th with a 20:36.

Pietig said from the team’s first finisher to the last, he was thrilled with how his guys ran.

“They were competitive, they got after it and that’s what you have to do,” he said. “We know we were kind of undermatched just because we are young and not as physically strong as some of these other guys, but you still can go race hard and get after it and do your best and I think they did. I don’t see anyone on that varsity lineup where I look and go, ‘gosh, they could have run better.’ Even Ethan Benscoter, who is our No. 7, even though he was at the back he still ran a season best and that’s all you can ask from a kid.”

It’s been a bit of a struggle for Marshalltown to get meets in, particularly in prior weeks where it experienced multiple cancellations. Over the last two weeks, however, the Bobcats have been back to their regular meet schedule, which Pietig said is big heading into the district meet next week.

“At least with the cancellations, we were able to get some quality training in,” he said. “It wasn’t bad enough where we weren’t able to train, and I think the guys handled that very well. They knew what to expect and that we were going to get a good workout in on the track or something. You’d rather have the races but there’s nothing we could do about it. It was nice to get a couple in last week and nice to get this one in.”

Most of the CIML Iowa members in action on Thursday will be at the district meet on the MCC course next Thursday as well, with Fort Dodge, Mason City and Waukee all part of the nine-team field, and Pietig said it’s good they got a glimpse of those teams in the conference meet.

“I think it was as really good tune-up for next week, four of the teams we raced today will be at our district next week and we kind of used that as a measuring stick,” he said. “Picked out some of the schools we could be competitive with and went after them. Mason City and Fort Dodge are teams we want to compete with and we will see them again next week, we got beat by one and the other one got us so that gives us something to shoot for next week at the district meet.”

Marshalltown beat Fort Dodge, who finished last with a 173, but fell to Mason City, who took fourth with a 105. Waukee was the CIML Iowa champion as a team with a 19, and Warrior senior Moe Smith took the top individual honor with a time of 16:35.

Pietig said since the state qualifier will be on their home turf, he thinks his Bobcats can make up some ground on the Mohawks and some of the other teams in attendance next Thursday.

“We know that course well and I hope we run well,” he said. “I love starting our season there and I love ending our season there, it’s the best way to measure your progress and I think they are ready to go pop a good race.”

CIML Iowa Cross Country Meet

At Pleasant Hill

BOYS

Team Standings — 1. Waukee 19, 2. Southeast Polk 52, 3. West Des Moines Valley 70, 4. Mason City 105, 5. Marshalltown 148, 6. Fort Dodge 173.

Individual (top 10) — 1. Moe Smith, Waukee, 16:35; 2. Drake Hanson, SEP, 16:48; 3. Travis Loecke, Waukee, 16:49, 4. Ian Buske, Waukee, 17:06; 5. Tyler Loecke, Waukee, 17:15; 6. Cade Simpson, Waukee, 17:17; 7. Cade Mash, SEP, 17:19; 8. Evan Armitage, VAL, 17:21; 9. Jackson Smith, Waukee, 17:21; 10. Tyler Kinney, VAL, 17:21.

WAUKEE (19) — 1. Smith 16:35, 3. Travis Loecke 16:49, 4. Buske 17:06, 5. Tyler Loecke 17:15, 6. Simpson 17:17, 9. Smith 17:21, 15. Jordan Swanson 17:41.

SOUTHEAST POLK (52) — 2. Hanson 16:48, 7. Mash 17:19, 12. Alex Schneider 17:26, 14. Caden Mitchell 17:31, 17. Chase Bartlett 17:46, 18. Ben Miller 17:56, 30. Alex Rickabaugh 19:14.

VALLEY (70) — 8. Armitage 17:21, 10. Kinney 17:21, 13. Richy Salas 17:30, 19. Jack Smeins 18:06, 20. Jacob Soto 18:12, 21. Landon Denker 18:14, 23. Carsen Codel 18:40.

MASON CITY (105) — 11. Michael Rowe 17:25, 16. Christian Rodriguez 17:44, 25. Luke Mulholland 18:51, 26. Claudio Mateo 18:56, 27. Joey Daoud 19:01, 29. David Johnson 19:06, 33. Keagan May 19:20.

MARSHALLTOWN (148) — 22. Conner Smith 18:29, 28. Eli Thiesen 19:03, 31. Freddy Ross 19:15, 32. Marcus Barker 19:17, 35. Noah Hermanson 19:40, 36. Zach Bitker 19:41, 39. Ethan Benscoter 20:36.

FORT DODGE (173) — 24. Joshua Meier 18:41, 34. Carter Delanoit 19:29, 37. Eric Crawfor 19:56, 38. Jonathon Madden 20:04, 40. Gage Riley 21:34, 41. Carter Forbes 22:01, 42. Grant Harrison 22:01.