OSKALOOSA — Hills, mud and wet overall course conditions greeted Little Hawkeye Conference cross country runners in Monday’s conference meet.
The LHC meet was originally scheduled to be run at Norwalk. It was switched to Oskaloosa’s Edmundson Park because Norwalk’s course was too wet.
Guess what with over-the-weekend rain, the Edmundson Park course was wet but still passable to run on.
The conference did cancel the middle school races and ran one race each for the high school boys and girls on Monday.
“Oskaloosa is not a course to get PRs but it’s a course with lots of hills and you have to be mentally tough to finish,” Newton senior Claire Muckler said after the race. “We were able to run on the Oskaloosa course earlier this year. That really helped us know when to push and when to back off.”
Newton High’s Cardinal boys ran the course first and finished sixth with 155 points. The Cardinal girls took to the course next, also finishing sixth with 144 points.
Senior Rachel Rhoads was Newton’s only medal winner. Rhoads claimed sixth in the girls’ race. She finished the 5K course in 21 minutes, 26.3 seconds, earning All-Little Hawkeye Conference honors.
A year ago on Newton’s home course, Rhoads was 33rd dealing with health issues. She’s been leading the Cardinal girls this season back to form.
“I feel blessed, very blessed for this season. It’s been the craziest season weather-wise for us,” Rhoads said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to run this season.”
Rhoads said it felt good to be back in the top 15 of the LHC. She said it was tough course, but the whole Newton team powered through the race well.
“We got through another muddy one today,” Rhoads said. “We attacked the course with the attitude we were going to be mentally tough.”
Rhoads said the Osky course is known for almost constant hills so it’s hard to get a stride. It wasn’t her best race, but the weather and course conditions played parts in that, she said.
“We were prepared for the conditions. It is what it is and whatever Christ blessed us with,” Rhoads said.
For Treycen Garton, it was his first varsity LHC 5K meet. The freshman has been leading the Newton boys’ team this season. In 2017, Garton placed ninth in the LHC middle-school, two-mile race at Newton’s Westwood Golf Course.
“It was very muddy and very hilly,” Garton said after finishing 21st in the boys’ race. “It was really hard for me to keep up with the varsity runners, but I think I did pretty well.”
Garton was the Newton boys’ top runner in the conference meet. He ran the course in 18:54.8. Freshman Jackson Mace-Maynard was No. 2 for the Cardinals, finishing 28th in 19:10.3.
Garton said he thought he ran the first loop too fast and burnt himself out. He said the team did pretty well considering the conditions and the toughness of the course.
Junior Luke Zaabel placed 35th in 19:25.9 followed by senior Adam Hunter in 36th at 19:26.8. Freshman Nathnail Zemene took 43rd in 19:45.8.
“With the condition of the course and all the hills, I could have been smarter going out,” Hunter said about his final LHC race. “I went out a little quick. Today’s race just gives me more motivation for next week’s race (Class 4A state qualifier).”
The other two non-scoring varsity runners for the Cardinal boys were freshmen Hunter Kennedy and Derek Beiner. Kennedy was 84th in 21:06.1 and Beiner was 95th in 21:18.2.
Sophomore Ashay Malow finished 19th for Newton in the girls’ race. She ran the course in 22:25.7 then Muckler came across the finish line in 23:03.9 for 26th.
Freshman Morgan Stalzer placed 50th in 24:51.7 and sophomore Willow Oswalt ended up 78th in 26:18.9.
“It was nice to see Rachel earn all-conference honors again as a senior,” Newton girls’ head coach Rachelle Tipton said. “She has worked hard to go out well and I am proud of all she has done. We’re not done yet, however.”
Tipton said Malow went out and ran her race, inching her way to closer to being all-Conference, a good goal for the next two years. Despite the conditions five girls still ran faster times than here in September, Tipton said.
The other two non-scoring varsity runners for the Cardinal girls were freshman Kelsey Church and junior Tes Schuster. Church took 80th in 26:29.1 and Schuster was 94th in 28:00.
Both varsity and junior varsity runners were in one race per division Monday.
Newton had three other girls in the race. Freshman Heather Perry was 138th in 33:32.2, sophomore Emma Ham was 148th in 43:11.8 and freshman Amor Hilburn was 149th in 52:00.
“Heather, Emma, and Amor all ran their last meets of the season. These girls have all seen great progress in both practice and meets, learning to keep pushing and never give up,” Tipton said.
For the Newton boys, there were four other boys in the race. Sophomore Anthony Bestell took 113th in 21:52.4 and sophomore Trent Hamand was 165th in 25:26.1. Senior Nathan Jennings placed 170th in 25:42.6 and sophomore Dakota Gooden was 180th in 26:50.9.
“The boys ran well despite running our first course with rough hills in a month. Losing the Newton and Knoxville is a shame as they’re great hilly courses and hard to replace,” Newton boys’ head coach Steve Weeks said.
“After two flat courses with amazing competition, it was a bit of a downer for many of the guys who saw their times go up. The course was saturated and saw many falls, so times are bound to be different. Now we sit and wait to hear our districts destination.”
Class 4A 14th-ranked Indianola was the 2018 boys’ LHC team champion with 49 points. Dallas Center-Grimes, ranked No. 5 in 3A, was second with 55 points. Pella, No. 12 in 3A, took third with 67 points followed by 3A No. 11 Grinnell with 101.
Oskaloosa was fifth with 142 points followed by Newton. Norwalk was seventh with 177 points and Pella Christian placed eighth with 182.
Leading Indianola to victory was senior Eric Baldus, who is ranked 22nd in 4A, winning the individual title. Baldus won the 5K race in 17:08.8.
Pella junior Caroline McMartin, who is ranked 15th in Class 3A, was the girls’ LHC champion. She ran the race in 2:33.6.
The top three teams in the girls’ division are ranked in 3A. No. 6 Dallas Center-Grimes powered past No. 4 Pella and No. 13 Grinnell to claim the team title with 51 points. Pella was second with 59 and Grinnell was third with 64 points.
Indianola, which is in 4A’s top 20, took fourth with 104 points. Norwalk was fifth with 117 followed by Newton. Oskaloosa took seventh with 162 points and Pella Christian was eighth with 219 points.
“It’s tough to go from no meets to three (or four — Griak) in a row and the girls have persevered,” Tipton said. “We saw some tired legs but they pushed through and will be ready to go again at state qualifying.”
Newton’s teams wait to see which 4A state qualifying meet they will be assigned to run in on Oct. 18. Assignments are expected to be announced this week.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at
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