The end of the season is bittersweet.
I always spend the last two weeks of the season thinking that I'm ready for it to be over soon. Winter sports are holding their pre-season meetings and the athletes are ready for a change; I'm ready to go back into hibernation.
And then, when the last race has been run, it hits. It's over. And it suddenly feels a little too soon, and I'm kicking myself for thinking I was ready.
This year's senior class is the biggest group of seniors we've ever had in cross country. Simply put, we would not have the team we've built without them. They have been our cheerleaders and recruiters for this program since day one. Every last one of them has grown as a runner in so many ways, but that doesn't matter nearly as much as seeing the people they've become. (You'll have to forgive me if I dote on the seniors a bit in tonight's recap.)
The girls placed 8th out of 10 teams tonight. I repeat: we were not last! I don't mean for that to sound rude or flippant at all; I am thrilled about it, but I would have been just as proud of them if they had been 10th. These young women ran their butts off every week for very little glory other than their own personal pride in their accomplishments. It humbles me to see this group constantly put themselves out there to do their best and keep a positive attitude even when they know the odds are probably stacked against them.
Raven Kinnetz ran a 24.15 tonight to hit her PR. She started out the season at a 27.02 and has shown one of the most significant drops on the entire time over the course of the season. I am so glad this freshman decided to take a gamble and try a new sport this year! Bonus: Cuddlebug's mom brings us lots of snacks! (THANK YOU!)
Angela Castro hit her all-time PR tonight with a 24.49, and Maya Jackson hit her season PR with a 25.37. I have tried to write a sentence that shows how much I love these two girls and how much it's been an honor and a privilege to work with them, but I can't type through the tears. I have been running with both of these young women in 5k's long before I ever coached either of them in this sport. Castro kicking my butt at the Lake Cornelia 5k has been an annual tradition since she was in middle school, and I was running side by side with Maya when she completed her first 5k as an 8th grader. These two girls are one of the main reasons I applied for this job in the first place: so I could do what I love with the people I love. There are no words to truly express how much I will miss them on this team.
Katherine Lopez ran a 25.52 tonight. Lopez is the best athlete you could ask for as a coach: dependable, positive, and willing to do whatever you ask. She will be a key leader for us on Varsity next year with so many seniors graduating.
Kayleen Johnson ran a 27.14 to finish out her senior season. Kayleen is one of our original cross country runners who stuck it through every year since 8th grade. Many runners join our team as they get older as a way to try something new, especially with the popularity of the other fall sports. Kayleen also holds the title of being someone I have never, once heard complain during her years of cross country. That in itself is remarkable because cross country is the sport we all have a love/hate relationship with. I can't thank Kayleen enough for balancing her busy cheerleading schedule with cross country for all of these years. I will miss her dedication and positivity.
Kylie Klaver ran a 27.17 to finish the season. I know Kylie was disappointed by this, but every runner leaves the course unsatisfied once in a while. As another seasoned Varsity runner, Kylie will continue to play an important role in the future leadership of this program.
Brenna Harklau ran a 27.41 for her final race. First of all, major shout-out to this awesome young woman for stepping up to run Districts after she thought her season was finished. My only regret is that Brenna didn't come to us sooner. :) When she first joined the team last year, I was excited to have another solid track runner give distance a chance. What I didn't expect was how easily she would immediately embrace our XC family; it feels like Brenna has simply always been with us, and I'm so honored that she gave us a chance after so many years of volleyball.
Remember how I said this meet was bittersweet? That's the only word that can describe our final outing for the boys team. We placed 4th out of 14. For those of you unfamiliar with XC, the top three teams qualify for State. We were fourth. To my knowledge, this is the best we've ever done as a boys team (definitely during my tenure; possibly ever?).
Hayden Klaver ran an 18.43 and came in 18th place overall, and Alex Rosenbaum ran an 18.53 for 20th place. These two seniors have been the backbone of CGD Cross Country since they were in 7th grade. Chances are, if you live in Clarion, you have seen these two pounding the pavement year-round in display of their dedication. Hayden and Alex have always been amazing runners that push themselves to strive to new heights, but it's been so fun to watch them grow in other ways, too. Hayden's not only a top runner, but also the best team photographer we've ever had. Making Rosenbae smile is everyone's favorite goal for practice. This program would not be what it is without their leading by example.
Luke Rapp came in at a 19.34 to end his high school XC career. When Luke first showed up as a sophomore from CAL, I had no clue what to do with this bouncing ball of energy. He has driven me crazy and kept me on my toes ever since, and I wouldn't trade it for the world. I'm so grateful that the CGD/CAL sharing agreement gave us the opportunity to have him as part of our family. There is no person who has stood out on the course and cheered on more fellow runners from all teams than Luke Rapp, and that tells you everything you need to know about his character; he embodies the true cross country spirit.
Max Powers finished his senior season with a 19.40. What can I say about Max? I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that Maya and Max won't be setting up social runs each summer! Max has always been the ultimate cross country spokesman and leader. His voice has cheered us through every practice and meet. Some of my favorite cross country memories are from simple conversations on the bus with Max and Maya over the past few years. I am in complete denial that the entire Powers family won't be at cross country meets anymore because they have pushed us all to be our best.
Kaeden Langfitt ran a 20.07 to finish his freshman season. I am so excited to watch him grow over the next three years. It's rare that we have a freshman start out with times like Kaeden's, and this season was an awesome learning experience for him in the world of Varsity cross country. Our boys team next year will be young, and Kaeden's Varsity experience will be a key factor in rebuilding our team.
Ben Rapp ran a 20.44 to finish his career. It's rare to have a runner for just one year, but I'm glad Ben decided to give cross country a chance for his senior season. The progress he showed throughout the season made me wish he'd come to us as a younger athlete to see what he could have done with more distance running experience. Ben can put a smile on anyone's face, and he kept the team entertained all season long.
Caleb Krueger ran a 22.10 to finish his first season with us. It's no secret that I wanted Caleb to join us last year as a freshman, so I was thrilled when he finally caved this year. :) His immediate dedication to success and goal setting made him invaluable. Along with Kaeden and Isaiah, we'll need Caleb's Varsity experience and maturity to help rebuild our boys team next year.
Thank you so much to all of our parents, families, bus drivers, and teachers who supported us this year.
Cross country is such a special sport. It is one of the simple pleasures in life to run outside in the autumn air with a group of people you love.
I hope those of you who joined us for the first time this year have grown to love it as much as we do.
I hope those of you who are leaving us remember that you always have a place in the CGD XC family.
Thank you for being amazing.
Well, that late-season Cross Country weather was bound to catch up to us eventually, right? Despite some miserable temps, our times held steady.
The main focus of this week will be JV since it was their last race of the season. Before that, Varsity shout-outs to Caleb Krueger for hitting another season-best with a 20.06. I would love nothing more than to see this hard worker squeak under the 20 mark at Districts next week because of how much he's pushed himself in his first year of this sport. On the Varsity girls side, shout-outs to Steph Castro (Peanut) for hitting a 23.34, beating her previous best by one second. Katherine Lopez ran a 24.46 for her best time of the season. Raven Kinnetz ran a 24.41 for her personal best.
JV Season Review
Runner First Meet Time Season Best Time
Isaiah Nebbe 22.44 21
Isaiah was right on the bubble, switching between Varsity and JV throughout the season. His positive attitude and hard work have been consistent all season long, and I look forward to his future with such a strong start as a freshman.
Kamren Jergenson 20.36 20.36
Kamren will be the first to tell you that long distance is definitely not his favorite race, but his attitude and team-player mentality have been so crucial this season to contributing to our positive environment.
Logan Robertson 25.26 21.58
Logan is built to run, and I always love the end of the season when he starts to show us what he's really capable of! You will always know Logan as the person who looks the least dead after a race, but he assures his coach that he is trying his hardest (most of the time). :)
Athan Sikyta 34.34 30.47
Athan showed such improvement this year as a runner, dropping significantly in his times in just a few short weeks. His dedication to this sport is something he can take great pride in.
Cristian Tamayo 27.14 26.02
Caleb Jacobsen 27.50 27.50
Injuries took Cristian and Caleb out of their season early. I'm hoping to have them both back healthy and happy next year since they both bring such positivity and encouragement to the rest of the group.
Natalie Kirstein 30.27 26.39
Natalie came to us as a sprinter who prepared me for her "granny jog." She did an excellent job this season of training her body to run the longer distance with a smile on her face every time!
Jackie Lopez 28.47 25.36
Jackie is a runner who is just flat-out fun to watch because she makes it look easy. I am so proud of her for giving Cross Country a chance this year and sticking with it.
Brenna Harklau 30.31 27.37
When Brenna came joined Cross Country last year, I immediately wished she would have quit volleyball earlier so we could have had more time with her. As with all of our seniors, saying goodbye at the end of the season is just too hard. I am so glad you found a home with our team, Brenna. We are better because you joined us and lit up our days with your smile, even on the days when you barfed. :) We will miss you so much.
Jade LaRue 31.11 27.40
Jade's progress throughout the season has been huge. I can always count on her to be motivated to do her best without getting discouraged, even with that pesky little sister hot on her heels.
Cupcake LaRue 32.34 27.49
Cupcake's season ended early due to her concussion, but she had already shown some of the best progress of any runner on the team. Her determination is second to none. She might just catch Jade next year.
Quinn Hansch 32.34 27.17
Quinn is a workhorse and someone who always does her absolute best without a single complaint.
Her times dropped significantly over the course of the season due entirely to effort and positive attitude.
Nicole Lorenzo 37.59 30.09
Nicole was another runner with huge drops in time over the season. One of my favorite things about Nicole is watching the progress she's made since her middle school XC days because she's one of the few "lifers" who never switched from a different sport.
Katie Haberman 36.03 32.03
Katie overcame some beginning of the season bumps to put in her best efforts these last few weeks. While she might brag about not passing out, what she should really be bragging about is that she stuck with such a difficult sport, even when it got tough.
Evelyn Tevalan 34.30 29.41
Emma Schluttenhoffer 36.12 33.06
Shpressa Iafoski 38.29 33.37
Angela Garcia 32.55
These last four girls are JV runners who are some of my favorite type of runners: they come to work hard, but don't always run in meets. It takes a person with a lot of grit and guts to work your tail off at practices, but not participate in competition. You have to be dedicated to put yourself through all that training just to hang out with friends and stay in shape. While I am so happy I was able to convince each of these young women to at least run a few races this season, I'm more proud of them for showing up and being an important part of who we are as a team: a place where everyone can be here to be happy and healthy with a bunch of other awesome people.
Thank you to all of our JV runners and parents for another great season.
Next up: Varsity Districts assignments should be announced tomorrow now that most Conference meets have taken place. I will announce via Remind as soon as I know.
Most of the runners on our bus attempted their best rain dances to get out of going to Eagle Grove yesterday, so maybe that was a sign that we weren't in the best mental space to run. Running in the Class A heat is another reason why Eagle Grove sometimes gets the better of us: as a small school running against much bigger opponents, it's easy to feel defeated before we even begin.
Our times were not bad last night; they just weren't good. Shout outs to the only two runners to post season-best times last night: Athan Sikyta in the JV boys race (32.53) and Kayleen Johnson in the Varsity girls race (26.28). Congrats to Luke Rapp (23rd) and Alex Rosenbaum (29th) on their medals! Boys were 7th out of 8 on the team rankings, and girls were 7th out of 7.
I'm not concerned with any of our times because none of them were too far off from last week. The team rankings are mostly due to running with the Class A schools. (It would be nice to see how we'd stack up in Class B.) Eagle has bigger hills than both Algona and Hampton, so that could easily make up for the differences since last week. Add in a dreary day with a soggy course and a few teenagers who were hoping for a rain cancellation, and it's easy to see that mental and physical running conditions weren't at their best.
Up next: back to Algona for the NCC meet! This is good news since Algona was such a great course for most of our runners. NCC will be the last meet of the JV season, and only Varsity runners and alternates will continue to practice for Districts. The District meet is a Varsity-only race on October 19th.
Please remember that District assignments are not announced until the week of October 9th. I will send out an announcement as soon as the IAHSSA makes the announcement.
Hampton is my favorite meet of the season. Something about the beautiful scenery at Mayne's Grove combined with the time of year when we are in shape and running our best makes it the perfect meet, and one I always look forward to. This year was no exception.
With only a two day turnaround between Algona and Hampton, most of the Varsity times stayed steady, so I won't go into a full list, but we do have some major things to be proud of.
Varsity boys earned 2nd place as a team, the highest we've placed at Hampton. Alex Rosenbaum, Luke Rapp, and Hayden Klaver were all top 15 finishers. Caleb Krueger ran an amazing JV boys race that put him back on the Varsity line up for next week at Eagle Grove.
Our Varsity girls stayed pretty consistent with their times from the Algona meet. JV girls had an amazing showing with all of them running their best races of the season and taking first in the JV girls team rankings. Kylie Klaver bounced back from illness and ran a JV time that will bring her back up to her Varsity spot.
Eagle Grove on Tuesday should be good for times but not great for team rankings. Since they divide their races into Class A and Class B, we run with the bigger schools. (I do not know why. I has always been this way.) That means our Varsity and JV will run in the same races since all Class A runners are together. Eagle is our last regular season meet before we head back to Algona for NCC.
The IHSAA will announce the Varsity Districts site on the week of October 9th. (The most likely candidate for us will be Dike-New Hartford since that's where we've run in the past, but any of the 2A sites are possibilities.)
It seems that the Algona meet always battles fall season storms because we haven't run there since 2015. It's a nice course that was just what we needed to get back on track for the last half of the season. Even better: we return to Algona in two weeks since they are hosting NCC this year.
Major awesomeness: every single boy ran his best time of the season last night (we don't count the Belmond anomaly, remember?). Alex Rosenbaum (18.20), Hayden Klaver (18.22), and Luke Rapp (18.36) led the way. These are not only season-best times, but they are career-best times for these three senior boys. Ben Rapp was hot on their heels with a 19.11 for his best time ever. Max Powers is definitely recovering smoothly from injury and back on track at 19.20. Kaeden Langfitt ran a 19.15 in the JV race which will put him on the Varsity roster for Thursday. Kamren Jergenson made his XC debut with a 20.36, which will put him in the Varsity race on Thursday.
Caleb Krueger (20.47) and Isaiah Nebbe (21.00) both ran their best times of the season. Even though the numbers put them on JV for the next race, they have been two of the most consistently hardworking runners all season long. Shout out to Logan Robertson for putting in his best effort last night and running a career-best 21.58. Cristian Tamayo ran a 26.02, but will be out for a week due to lingering injury.
With so many boys in such a close time cluster, our Varsity/JV distinctions could continue to shift throughout the next few meets. By the time we get to NCC and Districts, I'll make the final Varsity squad based on time and consistency. Reliability is a huge factor as the end of the season draws near.
For Varsity girls, Stephanie Castro (Peanut) (23.35), Raven Kinnetz (24.53), Maya Jackson (25.50), and Kayleen Johnson (26.57) all ran season-best times. Every single JV girl ran a season-best time last night: Natalie Kirstein (27.25), Jackie Lopez (27.25), Quinn Hansch (28.59), Jade LaRue (29.06), Brenna Harklau (29.11), Nicole Lorenzo (34.19), Katie Haberman (34.23). Special shout-out to Cupcake LaRue for running a 29.14 for a career-best; there is nothing like the motivation of a younger sister gunning for her big sis! :)
The Hampton-Dumont course at Mayne's Grove is my favorite race of the season. It will be fast and fun, and I'm curious to see if we can make gains with such a short turnaround. Cross Country is usually designed to have at least 2-3 days of rest between meets, so running races Tuesday-Thursday of the same week could be interesting.
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!