For some of us, today might be just another Tuesday but in the world of high school cross country, several area teams are gearing up.
It’s round two of competition for most teams including the Van Meter Bulldog girls and boys cross country teams will be in action and on the road. Both teams will be en rout to compete in the Dallas Center-Grimes Invitational as one of 13 teams in attendance. The Bulldogs yield 11 on the boys roster and five on the girls roster. Both teams have a lot of promise on the horizon for the 2018 season and interestingly enough, one aspect that head coach Josh Flaws in most excited about, revolves around the freshmen on the boys squad.
“I’m really excited about the freshmen boys we have on the team this season,” began Flaws. “These are the same athletes who won the middle school conference meet last season. They’ll be great additions to what we have in place.”
With the season already underway, coach Flaws is looking to shorten the learning curve for his youthful group.
“This year we’re pretty young,” said Flaws. “The biggest challenge is how tough they can be both mentally and physically. It’s a long grueling season making sure that the maturity level is there for consistency’s sake. With younger kids you can have a great outing one race, then turn around and have a poor performance the next.”
This will be the second meet of the season for the Bulldogs after the Gilbert invitational where the girls placed eighth out of ten teams with an average time of 26:24 while the boys finished seventh out of 13 teams with an average of 20:37. Carson Wille is looking to make waves once again for the Bulldog boys after leading the team last time out with a time of 19:54 and placing 26th. The girls will be looking for another standout performance from Clair Lauterbach who placed 17th at Gilbert last time out after a time of 24:14.
Dallas Center-Grimes will also be a part of the mix today as they will be hosting the 13 team field. Both teams head into the meet ranked inside the top 15 teams across all of Class 3A. The Mustang boys, under the direction of Matt Pries, head into today’s meet ranked fourth in Class 3A preceded only by Carlisle, Clear Creek-Amana, and Gilbert.
The Mustangs placed second in the Gilbert CC Invitational in their season opener, just missing out on the top spot to Gilbert with a team average time of 18:24. DC-G, a team that placed inside the top five at state the past two straight seasons, will be looking for another step up this year, despite returning just one state meet runner from last season. They will have help from a variety of runners including Aidan Ramsey who finished fifth at the Gilbert meet while Tyler Borneman just missed out on a top ten spot, placing 11th his first go round.
“With us finishing third at state in 2016 and to improve upon that in 2017 just goes to show how much this program has come,” said Pries. “We’ve had to deal with loss of senior talent before and this team is more than capable of overcoming anything.”
The Fillie cross country team also heads into the meet ranked fourth in the latest Class 3A rankings. The Fillies, who finished fourth at state last season, are poised to do it again with eight returning letter winners from last season. The Fillies were a threat inside the conference and at the state level and in attempt to do so again in 2018, they will have to continue what returning state meet runner Natalie Paulson spoke about as a strength.
“We are a really smart team and we work well together,” said Paulson. “We’re really good at making sure we don’t over do ourselves and do the little things right like sleep well, eat right, and warm up properly. All of that may not sound too huge but they are very important in the long run and this team does that well.”
The meet for both teams will begin today, weather pending, with the girls race at 5:10 p.m. and the boys race at 5:45 p.m.