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Tenth-ranked Mustangs lead locals

September 17, 2017
Thorn Compton - Central Iowa Press , Reinbeck Courier

TOLEDO - Summer weather made a comeback on Monday evening as eight area cross country teams gathered at the Otter Creek Lake Park for the South Tama County Invitational.

On the boys end of the meet, Class 3A No. 4 Grinnell took home the top three finishing spots but there was a tight race for fourth between Caleb Silver of BCLUW and Cam Hungerford of Class 2A No. 10 East Marshall, as Silver made a come-from-behind effort to overtake fourth place from Hungerford by a few tenths of a second.

Hungerford said he was giving it all he had to cross the finish line before Silver, but in the end the Comet junior had the better kick.

"I just wanted to finish before he did but he got me," Hungerford said. "There's always a kick and you have to have to have a good kick if you want to be good, but we will keep working on it and we have the whole season to improve. I hope to keep battling with him."

There was a bout of illness that quite a few teams were facing on the day, and BCLUW head coach Donna Fiscus said Silver was one of the boys battling through but you couldn't tell by the way he ran.

"Caleb had a cold tonight but he didn't let that stop him," she said.

While Silver was the top-finisher for the Comets and the first to cross the finish line from the area, Fiscus said she was most impressed with Neifer Ralstons' run to take sixth in the meet.

"Neifer is who we were super pleased with, I knew he was capable of top-10," she said. "That was exciting, for him to get sixth with all that Grinnell in there was awesome."

Grinnell did end up taking first in the meet with a team score of 35 - led by Joe Simon, Landon Steffen and Matthew Cunningham coming in first, second and third respectively - but East Marshall took second with a 64, 50 points lower West Marshall in third.

Mustangs head coach Trent Taylor said he was greatly encouraged by the way his guys ran on the day, even though they too had a couple of sickness issues to deal with.

"We ran well, Grinnell is an outstanding team and they had a huge separation but we had a huge separation between second and third," Taylor said. "Cam looked really good up front and Seth (Kilborn) was struggling a little bit with some sinuses. Brandon Fogt backed off a little bit today, but they know coming in what they want to get and regardless of what obstacles they face they have a tendency to run through them."

BCLUW finished in fifth just behind West Marshall with a 115, compared to the Trojan's 114, while Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck took sixth with the team score of 124. GMG was next for the area teams, taking seventh with a 157 and tournament-host South Tama County finished eighth with a 182.

Girls fight for second

The girls varsity race also saw a tight competition for the top area finisher, with West Marshall's Avril Sinning nudging out GMG's Kyla Wilkening by one second to take second place with a time of 21:25.

Sinning said it was nice having someone like Wilkening to run with during the race because they are closely matched, which makes running a tough course like the one at Otter Creek Lake Park a little easier.

"The course is really hard and there's a lot of big hills, it's easiest if you find someone your speed to run with and keep with them most of the time and try to help them out also," she said.

Wilkening said she also enjoyed running alongside Sinning, but as they came around the final corner she knew Sinning was about to turn on the jets.

"She was with me the last part of the race and I tried to stay with her for a little bit," the Wolverine senior said. "I like her, she's a good runner and I knew coming around the corner she was going to get it so I thought 'I am just going to do my own thing.'"

Class 3A No. 12 Grinnell's Mary Blanchard took first in the race with a 20:40, and three other Tigers finished in the top-10 to give Grinnell the top team score with a 30.

West Marshall was next with a 77, led by Sinning's second place and Grace Girard's 10th-place finish. Sinning said she enjoys finishing as high as she can, but not for her own benefit, for the team's.

"I like to place high and PR and I really like to help my teammates and make sure they do well also," she said.

GR/G-C took third with an 82 off the back of two top-10 performances as well, with Lily Ehlers finishing in sixth and Reagan Zinkula taking eighth. The Spartans have run quite a bit in the first three weeks of the season, but now they have a lengthy break before their next race, and head coach Andy McQuillen said having that break will be great for his team to heal up and get back into some practice.

"I think we need to kind of figure out as a team, both boys and girls, what our goals are and we will keep working to get better and better every day," he said. "It's always nice to get a little bit of a break where you get some consistent practices because it's actually been 10 or 12 days since we had a decent practice since we've had so many meets."

Taking fourth as a team was STC, who saw Callie Frakes return to the course after missing the last couple of meets with a leg injury to finish in ninth at her home meet. Trojans head coach Robert Tyynismaa said it was good having Frakes back out and running, though she still has some work to do before she's back to 100 percent.

"Our goal was to try to get her ready for the home meet so we were rehabbing and doing certain things that seemed like it was working," he said. "She was running without pain and discomfort and she said she was ready to go today. She ran OK, I think her physical fitness suffered in that downtime off the injury."

East Marshall and GMG each had a 112 team score, with the Mustangs taking fifth off a tie breaker, and North Tama rounded out the team scoring by taking seventh with a 197.

Coach Taylor of East Marshall said, though his boys team is more highly rated right now, his girls are the ones who have shown the most growth.

"From meet one to meet two, our girls had more improvement than our boys did," Taylor said. "Once again, compared to last year and comparing the girls who ran this last year we ran tough. This is a tough course and they know that, instead of psyching themselves out they prepare for it and get past the first mile and then they just get it out. I am really proud of the girls, there is no question they ran well tonight."



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