Bobcats’ lone senior tops local harriers

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown senior Luke Pedersen makes his way through the course at Marshalltown Community College during the MHS Early Bird Cross Country Meet on Thursday. Pedersen was the highest finisher from the area, taking 13th place for the Bobcats.

Area harriers kicked off their season on Thursday when Marshalltown hosted its annual Early Bird Cross Country meet, and lone Bobcats boys senior Luke Pedersen took the honors as the top finisher for the area schools in attendance.

Pedersen finished in 13th place with a time of 18 minutes, 23 seconds on the course at Marshalltown Community College, something that MHS head coach Chad Pietig said Pedersen had never accomplished before.

“He has run faster on other courses but on this course that was about 35 or 40 seconds faster than last year and about a 25-second PR (personal record) overall on this course,” Pietig said. “He deserves it, he has worked really hard. He ran 350 miles this summer and got himself ready.”

Pedersen was motoring early on in the race, keeping pace with runners who would eventually finish in the top-five, but as the final stretch approached fatigue set in and dropped him out of the top ten. Pietig said that isn’t a bad thing early on in the season, and he is very encouraged with how aggressively Pedersen approached the start of the race.

“He did great through the first two miles, that last mile he started to lose it a little bit but there are things we can work on to help him with that,” Pietig said. “He was aggressive through those first two miles, which is something he traditionally doesn’t do, so I was really really pleased to see that two-mile time and we will work on that last mile here over the next two weeks.”

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown’s Zach Bitker, right, leads a pack of runners along the Marshalltown Community College course on Thursday. Bitker placed 43rd to score for the Bobcats, finishing in a time of 20 minutes, 7.9 seconds.

As a team, the Bobcats took sixth in their home meet out of nine team scores with an average time of 19:51.3. Newcomer Eli Thiesen finished with the second-fasted time for Marshalltown, coming in 29th with a time of 19:13.9 in his first race at the high school level.

“That’s an incredible race for a freshman,” Pietig said. “Putting him in a varsity race, I wanted him to experience it once before we made decisions. There weren’t really any hammers here or people to be intimidated by so I thought it was a good race to be with Luke and warmup with him and see everything that goes into participating in a high school race. He was extremely competitive, he just had a fire in him and ran really hard, I was really pleased with that.”

The Bobcats will run three more times on their home course at MCC this season, including hosting the 4A District meet at the end of the season. Pietig said that fact is a boon to his squad, because it provides them with a great set of benchmarks to really see how much they improve each time they step on the course.

“Coming back here three more times, we get to measure every couple of weeks,” he said. “We will got to other courses in between, but when you run on the same course it is a really good way to show progress, especially for a bunch of young guys like freshmen and sophomores. That’s what we need, we need to be able to show that they are gaining, so we are fortunate to be able to race here as often as we do this season.”

Teams from Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck and South Tama County were in attendance on Thursday as well, with the Spartans finishing just behind the Bobcats on the team score in seventh.

Junior Derek Ciddio was the top-finisher for GC/G-R, taking 14th with a time of 18:23.1 and almost nudging out Pedersen for 13th. Also showing well for the Spartans was freshman Kenny Day, who finished 25th with a time of 19:02.4.

“Derrick Ciddio ran really well,” GC/G-R head coach Andy McQuillen said. “Kenny Day, for his first high school meet obviously came out and proved that he belonged. I was really happy, overall on the boys side it is a little different than the girls because you have to look at times more, but I thought we showed a lot of improvement.”

Now that they have a day of competition under their belts, McQuillen said he and the team will use this Early Bird meet as a learning experience to build off of and springboard into higher times moving forward.

“We will look at some things and address a few items in practice on where we can get better, but overall we try to stick with a plan and we will continue to do that,” he said. “One thing we have going for us is we have a meet similar to this next Thursday at Eldora, so that kind of helps get a look at things and evaluate them and go from there.”

STC had two guys run at MCC, with sophomore Tyrin Lasley leading the way with a time of 20:36.9. Trojans head coach Robert Tyynismaa said his team was battling through some injuries before today, leading to them not being at full strength, but once they get healthy he sees good things for his squad.

“We have a few people who are nursing some early season injuries right now, so we had four or five that didn’t run due to that, but our numbers are good and I am pleased with the numbers that we have out this year and I think we can pick up a few more in the next week or so,” he said.

The Trojans will run again on the MCC course coming up in a few weeks, so Tyynismaa said how his team performed today is a good benchmark to see how much they’ve grown as practice continues.

“The fact is we will be back here in two weeks on the same course, and we do run in Grinnell prior to that but that’s a little different course than this one,” he said. “That gives us and idea in terms of our training that we are doing on if we are making the improvements that we need to make between now and two weeks from now.”

Team Standings — 1. Urbandale 39, 2. Southeast Polk 63, 3. Webster City 93, 4. Waterloo West 105, 5. Ottumwa 165, 6. Marshalltown 176, 7. Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck 182, 8. Belle Plaine 183, 9. Sigourney 192.

Individuals (top 10) — 1. Payton Marrs, Urbandale, 16:54; 2. Cutler Owens, Southeast Polk, 17:29; 3. Sam Schweizer, Urbandale, 17:46; 4. Tyler Bultena, Webster City, 17:49; 5. Conner Riley, Ottumwa, 17:53; 6. John Piaszynski, Webster City, 17:54; 7. Cody Samuelson, Waterloo West, 18:01; 8. Sam O’Brien, Waterloo West, 18:01; 9. Ryan Finer, Urbandale, 18:05; 10. Drake Hanson, Southeast Polk, 18:15.

Marshalltown (176) — 13. Luke Pedersen 18:23, 29. Eli Thiesen 19:13, 41. Trey Gardner 20:03, 43. Zach Bitker 20:07, 59. Noah Hemmenson 21:28, 62. Wyatt Demeyer 21:43, 70. Peyton Hilsabeck 22:45.

Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck (182) — 14. Derek Ciddio 18:23, 25. Kenny Day 19:02, 47. Max Schweppe 20:13, 54. Sam Schildroth 20:46, 56. Brady Appel 20:47, 57. Marshall Day 20:51, 58. Alex Schweppe 21:16, 75. Colton Sandell 23:17.

South Tama County — 52. Tyrin Lasley 20:36, 73. Nick Jordan 22:59.