Winning now is not the primary objective of Madrid’s cross-country teams.
The focus has always been on advancing to the Class 1-A State Meet, held Oct. 27 at Fort Dodge, and making a serious run at a title.
And with that in mind, the Tigers entered Gilbert’s Jim Klein Invitational, which featured bigger schools and many of Iowa’s elite prep runners.
The result was a second-place showing for the Madrid boys, and a runner-up finish by Sean McDermott.
“The top-ten finishers are all ranked in Class 1-A or Class 3-A,” coach Kelley Grothus said in her summary. “Our boys knew who from the other schools they wanted and needed to beat, and ran very competitive races.”
The Tigers tallied 63 points, putting them behind champion Gilbert, top-ranked in Class 3-A, which ended up with 35 points.
South Hamilton, the reigning State 3-A champion, was third out of 17 schools with 87.
McDermott completed the 5-kilometer course in 16 minutes, 26 seconds, just 7 seconds behind Gilbert’s Rees Tyler.
“The race didn’t go out very fast,” Grothus said. “In both this race and at Perry, (McDermott) has been challenged and had to react when the race doesn’t go as planned.”
McDermott has won six races this fall – including an impressive victory at the Wartburg Invitational – with only two runners from Class 3-A programs beating him to the finish line.
“You learn a lot more in a race like that,” Grothus said, “than you do when you win easily.”
Madrid placed five runners among the top 26.
Jason Renze was seventh in 16:58. Gabe Soda took 12th overall in 17:14. Clay Pehl crossed 20th, 17:37. Chaz Warson came in 26th, 17:57.
It was Renze’s first race under 17 minutes. Soda, Warson and Matthew White (42nd in 18:39) all recorded personal-best times.
Landen Klatt rounded out the varsity, placing 39th in 18:31.
Much like McDermott’s individual performances, Madrid’s team has been mostly dominant this season, with a total of six titles to their credit.
The Madrid girls were 13th in the team standings, while Gilbert won the crown with 90 points.
Lauren Horn set the Tigers’ pace, finishing 27th in 22:10. Oksana Howard was 57th in 23:17. Taylor Renze was 77th in 24:11.
“The girls’ race gave us a good preview of some teams we expect to be strong at conference this week, AC/GC and Panorama,” Grothus said. “We struggled with some illness and hope to be ready for top performances this week and next.”
The Madrid boys and girls are scheduled to compete at the West Central Activities Conference meet Thursday, at Panorama – weather permitting.
McDermott won last year’s WCAC meet in a time of 17:5.17. The Tiger boys were second in the standings, behind Woodward Academy.
Klatt placed ninth (18:12.13) and Renze was 15th (18:23.51) in the league, giving Madrid plenty of experience to draw from as they pursue a championship.
The Tiger girls were third at the 2017 WCAC meet. State qualifying meets set to take place next week.