Cross country teams ready for hosting Rich Engel

The men’s and women’s cross country team is gearing up for the Rich Engel Classic that will be held on Thursday, Sept. 15, at Birdsall Park in Cedar Falls.  

Last week, at the 49th Bobcat Invite, held in Marshalltown, the men’s team finished 4th out of 24 teams, ahead of the No. 1 ranked Johnston men’s team. Junior Luke Hartman led the Tiger pack with his 16:09, which placed him 14th, followed by freshman Jaden Merrick in 15th and senior Gavin Denholm in 17th. 

The women’s team finished 14th at the 49th Bobcat invite. They were led by sophomore Zoe Zylstra, who finished 19th with her time of 19:20.9. She ran the 2nd fastest sophomore time in Cedar Falls history. She was followed by senior Rachel Mandt who finished 69th, and sophomore Josee Simonson, who finished 71st. 

Head coach Brett Egan said, “We have an opportunity to achieve a lot of team success in the last half of the season. We have not put together a complete lineup at the varsity level, so at our best, we are going to be an extremely competitive team that can run with the best in the state.” 

Zylstra said she is looking forward to running on the home course at Birdsall for Rich Engel. “In Marshalltown I was able to reach my PR on a harder course. For the home meet I’m hoping to use the familiar course to my advantage. Something I really want to improve on is my finish.” 

Regarding the rest of the season, she said, “I have a big goal of going sub 19 minutes this year. Smaller goals I have put in place for myself is running with girls that will push me and keeping my eyes up throughout the race.”

Regarding his 14th place finish at the Bobcast Invite, Hartman said, “I ran well and beat Jackson Bergman who I had a goal of beating and came close to going sub 16. I could have gone out faster because I had to constantly pass and make up for it even though that’s how I usually race anyway.” 

He said, “My goals for the rest of the season are to go under 15:39, which is the junior record, and to make First Team All-State.”

The Rich Engel Classic will be held Sept. 15, at Birdsall Park in Cedar Falls. The middle school races start at 4 p.m., followed by a rolling schedule with the last race being varsity boys at 6:05 p.m., and awards after that at 6:40 p.m.

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