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Newman makes instant impact for South Hardin

October 8, 2017
Thorn Compton - Central Iowa Press , Reinbeck Courier

GRUNDY CENTER - An area runner had a shot at the top spot at the Spartan Invite on Thursday afternoon at the Town & Country Golf Club, but it wasn't a known commodity for local racing fans.

South Hardin sophomore ZaKee Newman, running in his first varsity race of the season, was barely nudged out by Aplington-Parkersburg senior Mason Tyler as they crossed the finish line, giving the young Tiger a second-place medal with a time of 17 minutes, 22 seconds.

Newman, who led for most of the race, said he had some jitters as the race started, but once he got in a groove his training kicked in.

"At first I was a little bit scared, but after I got through the first mile I kind of pulled it off and started thinking about winning. Other than that it was just a great race," he said.

South Hardin as a team finished in third with a 77. Sophomore Kolby Winter came in 10th place to add to Newman's top-10 finish and junior Jacob VanderWilt finished just behind Winter in 11th, while sophomore Justin Meints took 25th.

Tigers head coach Mike Olson said his team ran a great race and it's nice to be getting some athletes back onto the team from injury or ineligibility.

"We would have liked to maybe move up two more points, but it was an awesome start," Olson said. "That was ZaKee Newman's first 5K, he just became eligible and we got Jacob VanderWilt back after 10 days off with a hip injury, Cauy Teske in his second race back, it was good to have our juniors back in the lineup. We didn't have any of them last week, last Saturday we ran five sophomores and two freshmen."

Class 2A No. 13 East Marshall had the highest finish as a team on Thursday, as the Mustangs took second with a 75. Junior Cam Hungerford was the high finisher with a 17:58, and he said the 90-degree-plus weather was a challenge but something that everyone had to deal with.

"We couldn't really train for it, I mean it's September! When is there 90 degree weather in September," Hungerford asked incredulously. "But that's something we have to deal with, and it's something we can't complain about and make excuses about, we just go out and run. That's our job here."

Junior Cade Curphy also had a top-10 placing, coming in eighth, while senior Seth Kilborn finished in 13th and Brandon Fogt took 14th. Kilborn said the Mustangs are just looking for someone else to step up to round out their fifth runner to compete at the high levels.

"We've got to find a fifth runner up there, that's our main weak point now, our last like three guys are battling out for our fifth position and one of them has to figure it out sooner or later if we want to win conference," Kilborn said. "A-P is going to be strong, they already are strong, so we have to get our fifth guy up there."

Grundy Center/Gladbrook-Reinbeck had a good day on its home course, taking fifth as a team with a 147. Derek Ciddio had one of his best days on the year, finishing in fourth with a time of 17:47. Spartans head coach Andy McQuillen said he's been working with Ciddio about competing for a top spot, and he was proud to see his junior do that on his home course.

"We have been emphasizing with Derek that he needs to go out faster and he needs to go out with those top dogs with the boys race and he really did," he said. "He went out there with (Caleb) Silver from BCLUW and ran a good race."

Speaking of the Comets, BCLUW took sixth as a team with a 184 but had the second-highest individual finish of the day from Silver, who finished third with a time of 17:36.

After his race, Silver said he enjoyed getting out and competing with a good team like Aplington-Parkersburg - who finished first with a team score of 50 - because it pushes him to get better.

"Its fun to have competition just to know that you have to keep climbing because it's always fun to compete with those guys who are pretty good runners," Silver said. "It's fun to see what you can do."

GMG took eighth as a team with a 214, led by sophomore Jackson Eden's ninth place time of 18:10, and North Tama didn't have a team score, but Chris Castor took 50th for the Redhawks.

GC/G-R coach McQuillen said the conditions of the meet were grueling, but he was proud of how his team ran and fought through the hot and hilly race to defend their home course.

"It was a hot day, we haven't had a hot day and really we haven't had a hot practice, so it's different to run in," he said. "If you don't run you don't understand that, but I thought we ran. I thought the kids really performed and kind of overcame the adversity of the weather and the wind and everything else that was out here."



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