Mustang girls ride 1-2 punch to team title

ELDORA – No radical adjustments were necessary for East Marshall’s first race.

The Mustangs carried on with the same course of action that’s helped them through the preseason – following the lead of Haley Fye and Kristen Amendt.

Fye ran alongside her teammate before taking control near the one-mile mark and winning in 16 minutes and 16 seconds. Bobbi Amendt (17:24) and Kristen Amendt (17:27) followed in ninth and 10th, respectively, as the Mustangs (86) edged Dike-New Hartford by five points for the team title at the Pine Lake Fun Run Thursday.

“I just ran my hardest and (Kristen Amendt) pushed me too,” said Fye, who made her way from the front pack to lead the field of 82 runners.

“I tried to power up the hills and caught some girls on those. … Our coach (Erik Niggemeyer) didn’t care about times, he just wanted us to try our hardest and see what we could do.”

Niggemeyer has seen what his top runners can do in early practice efforts after building a strong foundation in offseason training.

“(Haley) put in a lot of time this summer. She and Kirsten are really pushing themselves hard in practice,” Niggemeyer said. “They’re always up front trying to lead the rest of the girls and bring them along.”

North Tama’s Abi Watson was also amongst the front pack and finished third (16:38) behind Hudson’s Amanda Cartney as the Redhawks placed third with 94 points. The Pirates took fourth (104), while Grundy Center (128) held off host South Hardin (131) for fifth.

Tiana Saak (18:10) paced the Spartans in 16th and Hannah Stumberg was just eight seconds behind in 18th. Harper Wells (18:31) was close on their heels in 21st.

Claire Damon propelled the Tigers on their home course, claiming fourth in 16:54. Megan Carr grabbed seventh in 17:13.

“Claire and Megan ran very strong. It was a good start for those two,” South Hardin coach Mike Olson said. “The rest of the girls competed fairly well and just have a little ways to go. They’ll get it figured out with more experience.”

BCLUW’s Becca Steckelberg was the early pacesetter and finished fifth in 17:00. The Comets placed seventh with a tally of 147.

Comets coach Donna Fiscus simply wanted to see her runners get out and compete in the season opener and let the times take care of themselves.

“Our race plan was to go out and compete the best we could today with where we are in our conditioning,” Fiscus said. “It’s early season so we’re not close to where we’re going to be but today I was really pleased with the effort. We got out there and did exactly what we could do today.”

Aplington-Parkersburg took eighth with a score of 168, while West Marshall (198) and Gladbrook-Reinbeck (225) rounded out the field.

Allison Hilleman (19:09) guided the Trojans with a 26th place showing and Nicole Adair’s 18:16 earned 17th to lead the Rebels.

GMG’s lone runner, Natalie Smith, was 31st in 19:47.