Boys finished second four times; girls sent runner to state

A state qualifier for the girls and four runner-up team finishes for the boys were the main bright spots for Nevada during the 2013 cross country season.

The Nevada girls battled depth issues all season. The Cubs only had 13 runners and with injuries it was tough to field a team capable of running with the front pack of teams at meets throughout the season.

But the Cub girls still turned in four fourth-place performances. They also sent a runner to state for the first time since 2009 as sophomore Caitlin Dewell made it to Fort Dodge.

"The girls had a solid year," Nevada head coach Mike Christiansen said. "When you step back and look at the competition in this area there are no easy races. I am very proud of the steps these girls made this year."

The Nevada girls took fourth at the Pella, Greene County and Roland-Story Invitational meets.

The Cubs also took fourth at the Heart of Iowa Conference meet on Oct. 14 in Ames. Nevada finished just seven points from runner-up in a HOIC field that included five state qualifying teams and the eventual 2A girls’ state champion in Gilbert.

"I was so proud of their conference performance," Christiansen said. "It was by far their best top-to-bottom performance of the year."

Nevada was unable to carry that momentum over in a loaded 3A state qualifying meet in Pella. The Cub girls ended the season by placing seventh out of 12 teams.

But while the team was unable to go on, Dewell made it to state individually by placing right at 10th for the final qualifying spot with a 4-kilometer time of 16 minutes, 16.40 seconds.

"Our other big highlight was Caitlin making it to the state meet," Christiansen said. "She ran a great, aggressive race, getting into the top 10 right away and never looking back."

Dewell went on to place 54th overall in 3A at state with a time of 16:10.3. Dewell’s fastest time was 16:09 at the South Hardin Invitational and she also took all-HOIC honors with a 16:30 showing at the HOIC meet.

Emily Dittmer was Nevada’s second runner throughout the season.

Dittmer also made all-HOIC with a time of 16:59 at the conference meet and she ran a 17:03 at the state qualifying meet to finish 28th. Her fastest time was 16:16 at South Hardin.

Junior Elli Cassabaum and freshman Nicole Dewell were the third and fourth runners for the Cub girls.

Cassabaum took 17th at the HOIC meet and 40th at the qualifying meet. Her top time was 16:53 at South Hardin.

Nicole’s best effort was a 17:34 at South Hardin. She also ran a 17:40 at the HOIC meet to place 40th.

Caroline Goecke was the No. 5 runner most of the year for Nevada. She peaked with a time of 18:18 at Roland-Story.

Emily Haywood and Erin Sellberg also ran varsity for most of the season. Haywood’s bet times were 18:55 at South Hardin and 18:59 at Roland-Story and Sellberg peaked with an 18:47 showing at Ballard.

Madison Merfeld (best time of 19:23), Ally West (19:40), Cassandra Brower (19:30), Brooke Thompson (22:28) and Taylor Webb (22:10) also ran for Nevada.

The Nevada boys’ team turned in a strong regular season with seven top-three performances, including a strong showing at the HOIC meet. But like the girls the Cub boys ran into a buzz-saw at the qualifying meet as they had to settle for placing eighth out of 13 teams.

"The boys had a very solid season," Christiansen said. "This team was in the hunt in every meet we went to and I’m proud of the steps they made this year."

The Cub boys took second in their respective class at the Pella, Ballard, Roland-Story and South Hardin meets. They also came in third at Greene County, South Hamilton and the HOIC meet.

"They ran so well at Ballard, Roland-Story and South Hardin," Christiansen said. "I was so proud of the team and how they competed in all three of those races. And it wasn’t just the varsity; the JV runners won all three of those meets."

Unlike the girls the Cub boys possessed plenty of quality depth. But youth was an issue for the team at times.

"We had a couple of freshmen running varsity in Connor MacVey and Drew Barker and it’s always a challenge with the kind of work load that you throw at the varsity to keep them somewhat fresh," Christiansen said. "Then this year was hard with the real hot weather we had so late in the fall. Then it becomes more about making sure your athletes are ok and not working quite as hard as you planned on."

Lucas Markey and Evan Rix were the senior captains leading the way for the Nevada boys.

Markey was an all-HOIC competitor after placing 11th at the conference meet with a 5-kilometer time of 18:31. His top time of the season was 17:38 at South Hamilton and he ran a 17:55 at the state qualifying meet.

Rix ran an 18:55 at conference and an 18:19 at the qualifying meet. His fastest time was 18:11 at South Hamilton.

Zach Hansen ran close to Rix most of the season. He finished the HOIC meet in 18:52 and the qualifying meet in 18:20 and peaked with a an 18:07 showing at South Hamilton.

Duncan Westphal came on strong late in the year. He ran his best times of 18:55 and 18:43 consecutively at the Roland-Story and Nevada meets and also clocked in at 19:45 during conference and 19:21 at the qualifying meet.

Johordan Ritter and Caden Trygstad both ran at the qualifying meet and ran respective times of 20:07 and 19:33. Ritter’s best time of the year was 19:23 and Trygstad peaked at 18:57.

MacVey and Barker were the other varsity regulars.

MacVey ran an 18:28 at the qualifying meet and a 19:18 at conference. His best time was 18:24 at South Hamilton.

Barker peaked with an 18:43 showing at Ballard. He also ran an 18:46 the following meet in Story City.

Trinity Barker (19:31), Nick Walleser (19:36), Erik Tanner 19:42, Bodie Huse (19:41) and Leighton Memmer (19:40) all peaked with times under 20 minutes during the season for the Cub boys.

Next season both Nevada teams will look to achieve some lofty goals.

The Cub girls should be much stronger with all of their top runners returning.

"We have our top eight back," Christiansen said. "The expectations for them will be high."

The Cub boys must replace two quality lead runners in Markey and Rix, but with their depth a strong 2014 season is a possibility.

"The strength this year was our pack and that will be our strength with this top group next year," Christiansen said. "Our top six returning runners are all between 18:07 and 19:06, so we should be very competitive. We also have some JV runners who will compete for varsity spots next year."