Cross country teams heading to State

By Jack Moodydistrictccsamweb

After the men’s team got second and the women’s team got first at Birdsall Park last Thursday, Oct. 20, both teams are ready to compete at the state meet in Fort Dodge.

For the women, senior Cassidy Christopher finished 10 seconds ahead of everyone else to lead the Tigers. With an average time of 19:32, Cedar Falls finished in first place with 34 points and four top 10 finishes.

For the men, they finished second as top ranked Sam Schillinger finished 20 seconds before the next competitor. They were also ranked second in the district, so they placed as expected.

Coach Troy Becker said the guys ran well last Thursday. “They followed the strategy that coach Hartman and I asked them to do,” he said.

As far as the expectations for the state meet go, the team is also sticking to its plan. “Our goal from the beginning of the season was to get in the top 10, and that’s still our goal,” Becker said. “Anything better would be a thrill to the guys and a tribute for how hard they have worked.”

For the women, the expectations are a little higher after winning Districts. Coach Don Williams said he hopes to get on the balcony, or top three.

This has also been the most successful season for them since 1996. They have beaten 90 teams, and only lost to two. They look to continue their success at the state meet.

Teams that evenly match up against the Tigers at the state meet would be Dowling, Pleasant Valley, Dubuque Hempstead and Cedar Rapids Prairie. At the state meet, they aren’t going to change their game plan. They will stick to what they have done all season, which has helped them be a successful team.

districtcccassidywebThe competition at the state meet for the women is Johnston, and the Tigers will have to be at their best to beat them. “One of our best strengths is our depth,” Williams said. “Ten girls have been training together for most of the season, and at most meets we have had 30 seconds between our top five scores.”

Working hard during the season is important, but Williams said work in the offseason is even more important. “Summer base running is the most important part of our success. The season is way too short to include base conditioning.”

Williams said that leadership is equally important when it comes to cross country. Senior Cassidy Christopher has helped lead the Tigers as she has commanded the team in six of the eight races so far.

For the men, it’s the same idea. Becker s
aid, “Seniors Josh Timm, Sam Schillinger and Ben Eastman continue to be strong leaders for us and set themselves up for great finish to their careers.”
With lots of young, talented runners, both teams look to continue to have successful seasons in the years to come. Both coaches said they have lots of determined runners who still have room to improve.

Although the runners compete by themselves, they still come together and compete for each other. “This group has really come together as a team. They have worked really hard this year, and their performances are reflecting their competitiveness and determination,” Becker said.

Before the season started, the guys had a goal to get top 10 at State. This is the 25th year in a row that the Tigers have been at the state meet. They are currently ranked ninth, but assistant coach Jeff Hartman said that anything can happen. “We don’t really think there is much of a difference between the sixth-ranked team and the 12th-ranked team. We have had a great season in many ways and even exceeded our expectations, so we want to go to State and just run hard and have everyone finish with a good race.”

The last time the men’s cross country won State was 11 years ago, although they came close in 2011 with a second place finish.

After graduating a very talented senior class last year, Hartman was unsure what this season would be like. “We have five guys running varsity this year for the first time, including three sophomores. Thanks to great leadership by our seniors and lots of hard work by everyone, we have worked ourselves into a position to finish top 10 in the state.”

After achieving their goal of qualifying, only one more thing is left to be achieved, which is to get in the top 10, and Hartman said if the guys go out and do what they have been doing all year, they can reach that goal.

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