STATE CROSS COUNTRY: Any medal will do for BCLUW’s Silver

FORT DODGE – Donna Fiscus wasn’t looking to make a fashion statement.

Instead, the BCLUW head coach was trying to motivate her pair of senior runners.

Telling her team all season to embrace feeling uncomfortable within a race, Fiscus followed through with her own sense of discomfort – donning a pair of bright blue Cookie Monster pants around the Iowa High School State Cross Country Championships at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course Saturday.

The Comets took the message to heart as senior Cole Silver raced to a ninth-place finish in the Class 1A race, covering the course in 16 minutes, 54 seconds.

The 19th-ranked runner hovered around the top-15 midway through the race before making up ground on the hills and using a late charge down the final straight to cap his debut season of cross country with all-state honors.

“I wasn’t going to allow myself to be one off (the top 10) so I just kept moving up and had to fight off kids on the hills,” said Silver. “With the hills you just have to power through them and that’s when you get people. It’s just a matter of focus and determination from there.”

The multi-sport athlete switched from football to cross country this season after a hip injury hindered him in track and forced an uncomfortable, but ultimately rewarding decision.

“It was a tough decision, but it was obviously the right one,” said Silver. “I loved my experience and win or lose, I love this team. I would have gone out just for the team atmosphere.”

Fellow senior Derek Coulter capped his prep career with his fourth state meet appearance and clocked a time of 17:26 to finish 32nd. The state veteran worked hard to get Silver on the squad and the recruiting effort paid dividends.

“Last year I felt like if I was having a bad day I could kind of back off in practices a little,” said Coulter. “With (Cole) there there was always that rabbit to chase so I had to work hard every day to keep up there.”

Fiscus kept the intensity high in some workouts earlier in the week, but also tried to lighten the mood at times including her choice of attire Saturday, which was picked out by her runners the night before.

“It’s been a season of me telling the kids they need to be uncomfortable when they run,” said Fiscus. “If you’re going to talk the talk, you got to walk the walk once in a while and that’s what I do with the kids.”

Fiscus and volunteer coach Austin Schlatter did their part Saturday with matching bright blue pants visible around the course, while Silver and Coulter held up their end in the race.

“Cole played it smart and he let that first group go,” said Fiscus. “It put him in a great position and then a lot of other people really dropped off.”

While Fiscus knew Coulter was hoping for a higher finish Saturday, the four-year stalwart’s overall impact on the program far outweighed any disappointment.

“He’s had a fantastic career and been a great leader,” said Fiscus, who has worked with Coulter as a coach since he started seventh grade.

“I have a hard time visualizing him being gone next year. … When you have somebody for six years it hits you in the heart big time.”

Denver’s Kyle Kehoe topped the field in 16:17 to outdistance West Fork’s Peyton Twedt by 20 seconds. The top-ranked Cyclones claimed the team title with 89 points, while No. 2 West Fork (119) and No. 8 South Winneshiek (157) rounded out the top three.