Hobbled Bobcats settle for 10th
AMES – Weathering some injuries and another solid week of mileage, the Marshalltown girls’ cross country team came into Thursday less than full strength.
And against an elite field featuring Class 4A’s top four ranked teams, there was little margin for error to begin with.
Unable to keep its strong pace going from the start, the Bobcats finished 10th out of 12 teams with 299 points at the 2nd Central Iowa Conference Championship meet at the Iowa State University Course.
Top-rated Dowling Catholic tallied a score of 67, while No. 2 Ames (74) edged No. 10 Johnston by a point for second. Fourth-rated Waukee (93) held off No. 3 Urbandale by five points for fourth, while No. 13 Ankeny Centennial (154) rounded out the top half of the field, which featured six ranked squads.
The Maroons’ Karissa Schweizer, ranked second individually, came through in a winning time of 14 minutes, 15 seconds. Johnston’s fifth-rated Jordyn Kleve claimed runner-up in 14:32 and Elyse Prescott of Urbandale, ranked eighth, took third in 14:43. A total of 12 runners ranked in the top-30 toed the line.
“I’m a little disappointed with the way we ran,” said MHS coach Doug Bacon.
“We continued to keep the mileage up on them a little bit, so I thought we were a little sluggish. Maybe we got a little scared at how fast our first mile was and backed off a bit. We didn’t push as hard in the second mile as we should have.”
Rachel Blagg led Marshalltown’s unit with a 46th-place clocking of 16:00 and Michaela Huey finished seven spots back in 16:22. Both halves of the Bobcats’ top duo had some adjustments to make as they look ahead to the state qualifier Oct. 24 at Marshalltown Community College.
Blagg said she faded after getting out a little too fast, though the elite field of runners gave her a first-hand look at how she wants to race next week.
“It kind of opens my eyes that we need to push harder,” said Blagg, who missed qualifying for state by one spot a year ago.
“I need to dig down deep and go with the girls I’m running against.”
Huey noticed her pace taper off a bit midway through the race when there wasn’t as much fan support. While the MCC course is more fan-friendly, the Bobcat senior believes a stronger mental approach will keep her on pace throughout.
“When there’s not a lot of people there cheering, you need that boost,” said Huey.
“You need to be mentally prepared for that to push yourself.”
Ellyn Boland came through in 64th at 17:02, while Ashley Macbeth (66th, 17:10) and Wynn Tan (70th, 17:14) were close behind to finalize the team score. Abby Snyder (73rd, 17:23) and Becky Schwartzenburg (75th, 17:32) also competed for the Bobcats.
Bacon said Tan is still working through a hip-flexor injury sustained a couple weeks ago, while Schwartzenburg, a freshman, is battling some ankle issues. Varsity regular Victoria Jones has been hampered by a calf injury but led the JV squad in 29th (17:24).
“We’re thin enough that we can’t afford too many injuries,” said Bacon, who hopes a lightened workload will have his primed for the state qualifier.
“We’ll try and regroup, let the legs freshen up and be in as good a state of mind as we can. Certainly racing the home course will help.”
Marshalltown hosts a 10-team state qualifier meet Oct. 24 at the MCC course starting at 4 p.m. The field features No. 3 ranked Urbandale, No. 6 Linn-Mar and No. 14 Iowa City High along with fellow CIC foes Southeast Polk and Mason City. The top-three teams plus the first 10 individuals advance to the state meet in Fort Dodge on Nov. 2.
Bacon said his team, which finished seventh in the state qualifier at MCC last season, will have its work cut out to earn a bid. The same holds true for Blagg and Huey individually.
“(Rachel) is going to have to decide to go do it,” said Bacon of the junior who placed 11th in the state qualifier last fall.
“It’s going to hurt. If she’s going to get it done she’s going to have to make herself hurt. (Michaela) has had some big races on our course and maybe if things go well she’ll have a shot.”
Valley (183), Southeast Polk (193) and Ankeny (272) placed 7th through 9th in the CIC field. Marshalltown held off CIC Northern Division foes Mason City (329) and Fort Dodge (390) Other teams in the state qualifier field include Cedar Falls, Des Moines East, Des Moines North and Newton.