Humboldt is usually one of our hardest races of the season because it's a trail run, and because the kids have passed down the legend of "Big Bertha" through the years. After running last week at Osage, Humboldt and Bertha don't even measure up on the difficulty scale. After two crazy weeks in a row, Humboldt brought some normalcy back to our schedule and gave me a reliable baseline for our times heading into the rest of the season.
Take a minute and pause: we are officially halfway through the Cross Country season. Time flies when you're having fun, right?
Most of the times from last night show improvement since Webster City (aka, the last time we had a "normal" course). Some were still a little slower, but many runners have a more difficult time on a trail than they do on a golf course. Trails are especially difficult on runners with previous knee or ankle issues since they are a more uneven/unstable running surface. There's also something about trails that just makes some of us want to play it safe because they are a little more unpredictable.
One thing that definitely made me excited was comparing our times from last year on this course to the times from last night. Many of our returning runners are running at 2-3 minutes faster than they were at this point in the season last year. That gives me hope for where our times could be by the end of the season.
Shout-outs to Hayden Klaver (18.59; 15th), Alex Rosenbaum (19.18; 25th), and Luke Rapp (19.40; 34th) for taking home hardware in the Varsity Boys race. Max Powers also placed 6th in the JV race, his first back after injury. His time of 21.10 earned him his Varsity spot for Algona. The boys team placed eighth out of sixteen last night, and that's phenomenal considering the huge competition we were up against.
Our boys are so competitive with times right now, that it really is a race-to-race decision on who runs Varsity or JV. For next Monday at Algona, Kaeden (23.04) will run JV. Kamren will also run his first JV race of the season on Monday, which could add another line-up shake up. I'm sure both will be gunning for Varsity spots. With two meets next week, the Varsity Boys line-up could very well change from Monday to Thursday.
The girls are more stable in their times. The good news: Peanut is perfectly recovered from her dislocated knee cap! Most of our girls in Varsity and JV showed their best times of the season (not including Belmond): Peanut (24.17), Raven (26.19), Maya (26.42), Kylie (27.06), Kayleen (28.31), Quinn (29.51), Jade (29.52), Cupcake (30.28), Katie (35.44), and Nicole(35.43). Shout-out to Nicole for not stopping to walk for the first time ever, and to Shpressa for competing in her first ever high school race!
Next week, we have Algona on Monday and Hampton-Dumont on Thursday. Algona is a trial run for the NCC meet since they are hosting this year, so it will be a nice preview of what to expect later in the season. The Hampton-Dumont race at Maynes Grove is my personal favorite meet of every season, and it's usually one of our best races of the year. Two meets in one week is intense, so plenty of sleep and good nutrition are absolutely essential for next week.
As always, even though it's hard to talk running without talking times, that's not the most important part for me as a coach. I want our athletes to enjoy making healthy decisions and have a positive environment to be a part of outside of the school day. I know I'm biased, but if you talk to our runners, I think you will find quite a few people who are healthier and happier than they were a month ago. That's what makes CGD XC such a great sport to be a part of.
The Osage Invitational is by far the most difficult cross country course our team has ever seen. I knew we were taking a gamble with adding a new meet to our schedule instead of running at the Clear Lake meet this week. I was not prepared for the level of challenge it would be. None of us were! That being said, as a coach, I think it's a great addition. We need a challenging course on our schedule, and this meet happens early enough in the season that we will reap the benefits of the training it provides.
The monster hill (repeated twice), rocky trail, and sharp curves on the Osage course were different from anything we've ever experienced. Humboldt is the closest we ever come to an actual "trail run" and that pales in comparison to what we ran last night. Before the races even started, I knew we would run some of our lowest times of the season because of the difficulty level. I was (unfortunately) right.
So, shout-outs this week go to everyone who ran at Osage. You survived! You pushed beyond anything you've ever done before. I can unequivocally state that the absolute hardest race of your season is now over.
Just as I said last week, times aren't worth talking about. We have no comparison for what a "normal" time would be for us on a course like that. We went from our easiest course (Belmond) to the hardest (Osage) in the span of a week. If I was making a line graph of our times right now, instead of the neat downward line that a typical season follows, our current season looks like a two-year-old's coloring book scribbles. A visual:
With more familiar (easier) courses for the rest of the season, I'm hoping we'll get back to something a little more predictable. Humboldt (Monday) is the most physically challenging course left on our schedule. After last night, it should feel like nothing.
Major kudos to Hayden Klaver and Alex Rosenbaum for medaling last night in 11th and 12th place for the Varsity Boys race! I was impressed with all of the boys and their ability to stay somewhat consistent with time on the tough course. Hills are the runner's version of strength training, so it's natural for men to perform better on hills. Our boys placed 3rd out of 11 teams last night.
For girls, we had a rough night that put us in last place. Stephanie Castro (Peanut) and Courtney Harle are both battling injury. Courtney's fracture takes her out for the rest of the season, and Peanut's knee is TBD. For next week, that means Kayleen Johnson and Natalie Kirstein will step up to Varsity to fill out our roster.
Thank you to the parents who traveled all the way to Osage to cheer. We have the best fans in the world! A big thank you to Alissa Nebbe for sending me copies of our XC Family photo. If any parents ever want to email photos of the team or action shots, I would love to have more to post here each week and forward on to the newspaper.
This is a strange recap for me to write because I'm 98% sure of one thing: the course we ran last night had to be a little bit short distance-wise. While I would love to think that our runners showed such drastic gains over last week due to their hard work (and my coaching), it's not realistic based on everything I know about this sport. So this recap is going to be short because I don't want to talk about times that might not be a completely accurate portrayal of where we are currently running at this point in the season.
My overall feeling after the Belmond meet is still one of joy, even if the times don't seem to add up.
The reason I'm so happy is pretty simple: my runners were happy. Pretty much every single kid felt good after running last night.
The weather was a major factor. Colder weather is good for running times, and we usually don't see temps like this until later in the season. (This is another reason why I'm worried for next week; our next meet will be back to temps that could slow our runners down.) Training is also a factor. We're finally at the point in the season where our long runs have built up enough, and that endurance showed last night.
Instead of talking about times, I'll give shout outs to the three runners who made Varsity debuts last night.
On the boys' side of things, a huge tip of the hat to freshman Isaiah Nebbe. With Max Powers out due to injury for two weeks, Isaiah was next in line to step up to Varisty. I'm proud of Isaiah for running his best race yet, and for not allowing the pressure to stop him from being cool and calm. Our boys stayed steady as a team by placing 5th (out of 11).
For the girls, Stephanie Castro (Peanut) and Raven Kinnetz joined the Varsity line-up. They made quite the impression, and their speed definitely helped our other Varsity girls drop down to put us in a more competitive team standing. Placing 6th (out of 12) was a huge leap for us as team.
Next week, we are at Osage. I'm curious to see how our times from this week stand up, or if Belmond ends up being an early-season anomaly.
After the SE Valley Invitational, the Webster City meet is always a reality check for the competition we face during the regular season. The fact is, we compete against some hardcore schools with distance-running history: Humboldt, Algona, and Eagle Grove, for example. It's difficult to go from a meet where we are evenly matched with other teams in size and ability, to being thrown into a meet like Webster. It's also a good thing.
The times don't lie, and while many of our athletes ran their best times last night, our goals need to be realistic. For those curious, the time a Varsity boy would need to run to "win" a meet would be in the 16-17-minute range (most of our Varsity boys roster are in the 19-20 range). Girls Varsity winners tend to be in the 20-21-minute range (although Humboldt had one of the best runners in the state come in at a 19:39 last night). Perspective is important in a sport centered around time.
Our Varsity boys slipped a bit on times last night. This is typical since Webster has more rolling hills than Gowrie. Coming in at the top of our line-up was senior Alex Rosenbaum with 19.01, taking 30 seconds off his time from last week. Alex turned 18 yesterday, so we were thrilled to see him rack up one of his best times ever on his special day. Luke Rapp also showed a major improvement by dropping down to a 19.28. The rest of our Varsity boys stayed consistent with time from last week.
Our girls had a major shakeup last night, with some of our JV runners posting times that will earn them Varsity spots next week. Stephanie Castro (CAL) made her season debut with a 24.49. Angela Castro dropped a minute from her time to come in at 24.51, her career PR (personal record). Katherine Lopez dropped almost a minute from last week to reach 25.17. Raven Kinnetz made her season debut with a 27.02, which earned her the 4th spot on our roster. Courtney Harle and Maya Jackson both dropped by over a minute. Kylie Klaver grabbed the last spot with a consistent 27.28.
Kayleen Johnson, Brenna Harklau, Natalie Kirstein, Jade LaRue, Cupcake LaRue, and Katie Haberman all showed improvement over last week. No one had a significant drop, which is a relief since this course can have that affect on us.
For JV boys, both Isaiah Nebbe and Logan Robertson dropped their times. Caleb Jacobsen held steady.
Special shout out to all of our fans! I think we had the biggest crowd of parents, friends, and CGD staff that we've ever had at a meet. I hope some of you fell in love with the positive energy that our sport provides for its spectators and participants. There's a reason we're crazy enough to run long distance, and it's because we have the most positive atmosphere I've ever witnessed in a competitive sport. Extra thanks to Coach Warnke for letting us use the Boys' Track tent; now we can camp in style!
We run at Belmond next Tuesday and we would love to see you there!
I love starting the season with the SE Valley Invitational each year. As a coach, having an open race with no JV/Varsity distinctions makes it the perfect place for a competitive time trial in an actual race setting. With a bunch of new faces on the team this year, we had some awesome surprises for the season opener.
Our senior boys are strong this year, but I'm grateful for the addition of our strong underclassmen to keep them on their toes and push everyone's times down. Kaeden Langfitt rocked it with a 19.23 and 9th place overall for his high school debut. Kaeden has been running 5k road races for years, so he's already a seasoned pro as a freshman. Coming in right on his heels were Hayden Klaver with a 19.27 (11th) and Alex Rosenbaum with a 19.30 (13th). Right behind the first group, we had Max Powers with a 20.01 (17th), Ben Rapp with a 20.07 (19th), and Luke Rapp with a 20.12 (21st). Overall, these are much faster times over the same race last year, and I think having the nudge from newcomers is part of the difference. Caleb Krueger came in at a 21.59 and will round out the Varsity boys group for our next meet. Having this strong of a group all within the same time frame is thrilling, and I expect the boys Varsity lineup to have a strong competitive season if they can keep pushing each other to get times down. A second place overall team score for the boys was a wonderful surprise, and the best we've done at SE Valley!
Rounding out our boys squad, we had freshman Isaiah Nebbe with a 22.44 high school debut, Logan Robertson with a 25.26, Cristian Tamayo with a 27.14, and Caleb Jacobsen with a 27.5. I am a proud coach with all of these times, and I'm especially impressed with how strong our new runners looked tonight with their first 5k race.
On the girls side of things, I knew team rankings would not be as strong since most of our runners were competing in their first ever 5k. We placed last as a team, but I'm hoping with this one under our belts, the race length will be less intimidating and the girls can start to push their times down now that they have a feel for long distance.
Angela Castro came in at a 25.36, earning her the 22nd place medal. Katherine Lopez was close to her at a 26-flat. Kylie Klaver came in at a 27.18. All three of these girls bested their time from last year's run on the same course by at least two minutes! Newcomer Courtney Harle posted a 27.53, and I'm hopeful that will continue to drop as she adjusts from sprinting to distance. Maya Jackson ran a 28.18, which was a minute and a half improvement over last year at this point in the season. Freshman Jacqueline Lopez debuted with a 28.47, and Kayleen Johnson posted a 29.33 putting her right at her consistent beginning season time.
For JV girls, we had Natalie Kirstein run a 30.27 for her first cross country experience. Brenna Harklau ran a 30.31, Jade LaRue ran a 31.11, Quinn Hansch and Maya (Cupcake) LaRue tied at 32.34, Evelyn Tevalan at a 34.3, Emma Schluttenhoffer with a 36.12, and Nicole Lorenzo with a 37.59. I look for all of these times to drop significantly within the next 3-4 races as the girls adjust to the distance and temperatures start to cool down a bit.
Overall, tonight was a great reminder of why I love coaching these kids. Every person went out with heart and determination. We try to create an environment where everyone can work hard and show continual improvement, and tonight provided a great jumping off point for the season. Thank you so much to the AWESOME crowd of parents and grandparents who made the trek all the way to Gowrie to cheer us on, and extra love to Shelley Powers for the pan of brownies for the bus ride home!
I am so proud of our Varsity runners and the way they ended their season on Thursday, October 20, 2016. Every single boy and girl hit their season best time, many setting their CGD XC career-best times. That kind of performance tells me that each and every one of them left everything they had on the course. It's any coach's hope that runners will perform their best at the end of the season, and these runners did not disappoint.
To show the phenomenal growth these runners have shown this season, here's a record of their first time of the season (SE Valley Invitation on 8/25) compared to the last:
Katherine Lopez: 30.52 to 24.41
Maya Jackson: 29.49 to 24.47
Kayleen Johnson: 29.08 to 25.05
Brenna Harklau: 27.24 to 25.28
Kylie Klaver: 30.56 to 25.39
Angela Castro: 26.53 to 25.50
Myriam Carrillo: 31.44 to 26.38
Max Powers: 20.19 to 18.18
Alex Rosenbaum: 20.26 to 18.48
Luke Rapp: 20.18 to 19.08
Hayden Klaver: 20.34 to 19.28
Vegard Lauritsen: 20.49 to 19.31
Dakota Hennigar: 25.25 to 21.46
Logan Robertson: 27.17 to 22.04
The times show that these runners have so much to be proud of with their progress over the season, but that's only part of the story. Yes, I'm thrilled with the progress I saw in each runner this year, but even more so, I'm proud of all of the other things I saw that have nothing to do with their times. This group welcomed new runners, whether they were freshman, or upperclassmen who had never gone out for cross country before, with open arms. They supported and cheered each other on every step of the way. We say that cross country is a family, not a team. That's not just talk. We show it in the way we treat each other, and anyone who joins this family can see the difference.
It's bittersweet to end the season, but I'm already looking forward to next year. On varsity, we will return six of our boys and five of our girls. That will make for a strong, experienced group if we work hard and build a strong base over the summer.
Thank you to everyone who supported CGD Cross Country this year. We had more fans (parents, students, and teachers) show up to our meets than ever before. We know it's not easy to make it to meets, and we appreciate how much our loyal fans care. Thank you for another amazing season!
We could not have asked for a more perfect evening at NCC on Tuesday, October 11.
For Varsity girls, our two Freshman runners had stand-out performances. Katherine Lopez continued her pattern of continual progress to clock in at 26.01. It is exceedingly difficult to cut time at every single meet of the season, and Katherine is the only runner on the girls' side who holds that honor for this season. Kylie Klaver also posted a season-best 26.4. I am so proud of both of these ladies for the progress they've made in their first high school season. Brenna Harklau also ran her best of the season at 26.47. Even better, she ran without feeling sick, which has been a season-long goal for her! Rounding out varsity were Maya Jackson (26.33), Angela Castro (27.21), Sid Magee (27.53), and Kayleen Johnson (28.02).
JV girls finished their season strong. Myriam Carrillo ran a 27.50, which will place her on Varsity for Districts. Ami Martinez held steady at a 30.03. Jade LaRue ran a 29.19. Maya "Cupcake" LaRue ran a 29.30, setting her best time of the season. Evelyn Tevalan came in at a 33.24, and Alondra Aragon at a 31.03. I am so proud of the work the JV girls put in this season. Notable improvement goes out to both LaRue girls. Cupcake took nine minutes off her time from beginning of season to end. Jade improved by five minutes. Most runners are able to take off two-three minutes over the course of a season, so these were exceptional gains.
Varsity boys had another strong night. Max Powers shaved a second from his time last week for an 18.48. Alex Rosenbaum came in right behind him at an 18.49 for the best performance of his career. Luke Rapp (19.18) and Vegard Lauritsen (19.56) held steady, and Hayden Klaver came in at a 20.58. Dakota Hennigar battled a strained back with a 22.26.
Logan Robertson ran a 22.56 for his career-best, which will put him on Varsity for Districts. Cristian Tamayo ran a 25.06.
We have come so far this season. I can't believe Districts is right around the corner. Girls will run at 4 and boys at 4:30 at Garner on Thursday, October 20th.
The rain did not stop the CGD Cross Country team from doing well at Eagle Grove. While being considered "Class A" and running against much larger schools made for unimpressive team rankings, most of our runners continued to show the staggering progress that happens at this time in the season. We took a complete day of rest the day before the meet, and the beginning of our end of season taper is working nicely for most of our runners.
Maya Jackson (25.47), Katherine Lopez (26.15), Brenna Harklau (26.52), Myriam Carrillo (27.28), and Jade LaRue (28.53) continued to show major improvements. Kylie Klaver had another significant drop (26.55) that will put her back on the Varsity roster for NCC next week.
Max Powers (18.49), Luke Rapp (19.10), Vegard Lauritsen (19.34), Hayden Klaver (19.35) and Cristian Tamayo (22.55) all posted personal records, some smashing bests from just last week.
We are headed back to Mayne's Grove in Hampton on Tuesday the 11th for the North Central Conference Meet. We run well there, and I'm excited to see how we perform on one of our favorite courses.
Take everything I said about the Humboldt meet and reverse it for Hampton. Meaning, we love running at Mayne's Grove! Both this year and last, we had major breakthroughs at the H-D Bulldog Invitational. As much as we psych ourselves out for Humboldt, I think we psych ourselves up for Hampton.
This meet is the perfect storm for success for a few reasons, but the most important is probably that it's just the right time. The temps and humidity have dropped, the training is at the right spot, and the course is fun, flat, and fast.
What isn't there to say about a meet where 18 of our 20 runners ran their best time of the season? And five of our returning runners ran the best times of their careers!
On the Varsity girls side, Maya Jackson took two minutes off her time for a 26.02. Katherine Lopez showed a similar drop by taking 90 seconds off her previous for a 26.47. Kayleen Johnson (27.19) and Brenna Harklau (27.11) both continued steady drops to earn their best times of the season so far. Senior Myriam Carrillo had a stunning 3-minute drop to earn her a career-best of 27.59.
JV girls all dropped at least two minutes from their times, with Kylie Klaver leading the pack with a 28.08. Alondra Aragon made her season debut this week, coming back from an early season injury with a 30.43.
The Varsity boys took 4th place as a team, with all of them clocking their best times of the season so far. All of our Top 5 boys finished within one minute of each other, making this coach thrilled, if not a little frazzled. Max Powers led with a 19.02. Luke Rapp was close on his tail with a 19.12. Alex Rosenbaum hit 19.32. Hayden Klaver found his career-best time of 19.57, breaking the 20-minute for the first time. Vegard Lauritsen ran a 20.18.
All three JV boys also hit their best times: Dakota Hennigar at 22.1, Logan Robertson at 23.09, and Cristian Tamayo at 23.25. I am continually impressed by the effort and attitude all of these boys display week in and week out. They make coaching easy.
We will be back at Mayne's Grove in Hampton on Oct. 11 for the North Central Conference Meet, and I know we're all excited to run NCC on our favorite course this year.
Next up: the Dick Bell Invitational at Eagle Grove on Tuesday the 4th. We would love to have as many fans as possible in this meet since it's close to home!
I'm always weary of the Humboldt meet at Sheldon Park because of two words: Big Bertha. Not the hill itself, which is just as awful as the kids describe it, but because of what that hill has come to mean to our kids over the years. Sometime, long before I took over, CGD kids decided that Humboldt and "Big Bertha" are the hardest part of our season. We can get past most things as runners, but mental blocks are the toughest to overcome. Very few of our runners were able to get through the race last night without allowing the idea of Big Bertha to hold them back. Whether it was conserving too much energy in order to "save up" for the big hill, or just simply allowing the steepness of it to overwhelm them and set back the entire race, this course and its infamous hill psyched most of us out. Big Bertha aside, the course at Sheldon Park is easily the most difficult out of any of the locations we run.
People who thrived on the hills last night: Kayleen Johnson with another stellar drop down to a 27:52 (previously 28:38). Brenna Harklau looked good at 28:05 (previously 29:12) after a few weeks of tough races and battling nerves. Katherine Lopez continues to drop her times each week, coming in at 28:15 (previously 29:12). Myriam Carrillo ran a 30:52, which was good enough to bump her into a Varsity spot for next week at Algona. Marlud Landeros took a minute off her previous time with a 36:16.
Our Varsity boys continue to battle each other for placement each week. All five are currently within one minute of each other. This makes it a little chaotic for me to scribble down times at the finish line! Last night, Vegard Lauritsen continued to work his time down with a 20:46 (previously 20:29). Hayden Klaver had a huge night, hitting a 20:30 for his best time of the season.
Next week is a busy one, with Algona on Monday and Hampton on Thursday. Last year, those two meets were where we were able to break some barriers with our times. I'm hoping the same happens this year, especially since our boys are consistently running faster than they were at this time last year. Algona will feel flat after last night, and I look forward to it being a course where everyone can show major improvement.