FORT DODGE – Three area runners ran at the state cross country meet Saturday with Central Decatur and Interstate 35 both having runners represent them on the big stage.
Central Decatur’s Will Gillis and Tyson McDole toed the line in a Class 2A race with near perfect conditions and nearly came home with hardware, but a late pass from competition bumped a Cardinal off the stage.
Hovering around 15th toward the later stages of the race, Gillis made a move for 14th to put himself in a position to medal nearing the final mile.
“(I’ve) got to win,” said Gillis when asked what was going through his head when he made the move.
The final stretch was where Gillis was unable to hold position as Davis County, Bloomfield’s Kenny Cronin made a kick past Gillis to get the final medaling position of 15th.
In his first trip to state Gillis was 16th, clocking a time of 19:59.2, 4.8 seconds behind Cronin. The finish is the highest placing ever at the state meet for Central Decatur cross country, beating Jamie Stanford’s finish of 30th in 1997.
Frustrated, but realizing how close he came, Gillis is ready to make another run to state and have a little more insurance on his medaling position.
“(I’m) very ready,” said Gillis. “Next year I will definitely place in the top 10.”
“I’m happy with his race. It’s a PR by about 15 seconds. Would have liked to get a medal, for sure, and I’m sure he’s disappointed, but I’m happy with the race,” said Central Decatur head coach Reece Tedford.
McDole’s first trip to state saw him net a position of 67th, running a time of 17:50.4.
“We (He and Gillis) got in the zone, stretched out and ran it like it was any other race so we didn’t get so nervous going into it,” said McDole.
The placing for McDole makes him the fourth fastest freshman in Class 2A. Ahead of him was Harrison Alrichs of Monticello (10th), Zachary Minderhoud of Western Christian (55th), and Nathan Wallington of Mid-Prairie, Wellman (60th). Of individual freshman runners at state, Wallington was the only ahead of him.
Tedford was proud of how both his young runners did in an overwhelming environment.
“I tried not to put pressure on them and just tell them there isn’t any pressure,” said Tedford. “We’re kind of underdogs and just to relax and run fast.”
“He (Tedford) told me what to expect, but of course I was still pretty scared coming into this, because I’m going to be running with a bunch of kids who are a lot older than me, being one of the only freshman to qualify individually,” said McDole.
A lot of familiar faces in the field made knowing where to gauge themselves in the pack easier. Tedford feels Gillis and McDole’s placings are reasonable for where they had placed earlier in the year.
“I think we had to remind them of that when we got here when they saw the environment was a bit much,” said Tedford. “I think they finished pretty relatively close to where they would have been as far as combining the districts.”
Goering’s return to state was another growing experience for the young two-time qualifier.
The sophomore’s time of 20:71.1 was 23rd in Class 1A’s field of 139, a time which caps her season on a high note while simultaneously impressing her head coach.
“I thought she ran phenomenally,” said Interstate 35 head coach Alex Pickard. “She came in to state ranked 28th, and she finished 23rd. She set a personal record, even from her district time, which was also a PR.”
After placing 30th with a time of 21:06.1 at state in 2018, this season she was a little more knowledgeable of the course at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course.
“Because she ran it last year, she already had kind of an idea,” said Pickard, who herself was a four-time state qualifier from 2008 to 2011 for Ankeny Centennial. “We still talked about a few tips about where to be at on the course. ... She was very calm this week. She was nervous at times, but (Saturday) she was very laid back and collective and knew what she wanted to shoot for, which was in the top 25.
“... She looked strong and she was really impressed with herself,” said Pickard. “It was a win (for us) today.”