The Colo-NESCO boys’ cross-country team took a big step forward and the Royal girls also made progress in 2019.

The Colo-NESCO boys placed in the top five at five of its seven meets this season. The Royals’ best finishes were second at their first-ever home meet and the Spartan Early Bird meet.

Colo-NESCO also came in third at the Iowa Star Conference meet and 12th at the Class 1A state-qualifying meet in Marshalltown.

“My overall view of the season is that we made the improvements that I thought we needed to from last season,” Colo-NESCO head coach Tony Stalzer said. “The guys came into the season in good condition and we kept getting better throughout the season.”

At the Spartan Early Bird Colo-NESCO scored 45 points to come in just 10 seconds behind Collins-Maxwell for first. The Royals scored 53 points to edge Colfax-Mingo by three points for runner-up honors at their home meet behind the 27 points by BCLUW.

At the ISC meet Colo-NESCO finished with 104 points to place behind Valley Lutheran’s 69 points and Collins-Maxwell’s 78. The Royals ended up 14th out of 16 schools running at against several larger schools at the Roland-Story Invitational, but they had a bunch of personal-record times at the meet.

The Royals scored 337 points at the qualifying meet to finish right in the middle of a large 24-team field, easily beating last year’s 18th-place finish.

“This team grew the most in their race mentality,” Stalzer said. “They set some goals and went after them.”

Jacob Reischauer and Ryan Wonders were the most consistent runners for the Colo-NESCO boys.

Reischauer placed fourth at the Spartan Early Bird meet, 10th at the Madrid Invitational, ninth at the West Marshall Invitational, 56th at the Roland-Story Invite, fifth at the home meet, sixth at the conference meet and 51st at the qualifying meet. He made all-ISC and his fastest 5-kilometer time was 18 minutes, 51 seconds at the Roland-Story meet and he clocked in at 18:59 during the home meet.

Wonders came in fifth at the Spartan Early Bird, 13th at Madrid, 16th at State Center, 52nd at Roland-Story, seventh at the home meet and 87th at the qualifying meet. He ran the fastest individual time all season for the Royal boys at Roland-Story with an 18:46 showing.

Chevy Dunlap ran as the third runner for the Royal boys most of the season.

Dunlap was eighth at the Spartan Early Bird, 27th at Madrid, 34th at West Marshall, 101st at Roland-Story, 13th at the home meet, 11th at the conference meet and 58th at the qualifying meet. Dunlap saved his best for last, running a 19:38 at the ISC meet then topping that with a 19:34 at the qualifying meet.

Ben Rouse, Brighton Clatt, Luke Hill and Shawn Gilbert were the other varsity regulars for Colo-NESCO.

Rouse came in 13th at the Spartan Early Bird meet and his fastest time was 20:02 at Roland-Story. Clatt’s best place was 15th at the Spartan Early Bird and his top time was 20:33 at the qualifying meet.

Hill placed 29th both at the Spartan Early Bird and ISC meets and his fastest time was 20:27 at the qualifying meet. Gilbert took 30th at the Spartan Early Bird and 33rd at both the home and conference meets and his best time was 21:29 at Roland-Story.

Next season Colo-NESCO has to replace Clatt, Hill and Gilbert. But with the return of the other four runners the Royals will still have a solid foundation to build around for 2020.

“The outlook for next year is bright and is exciting,” Stalzer said. “If the guys keep working hard in the off season they will have another successful season next year.”

On the girls’ side Colo-NESCO came in fourth at the home and ISC meets, fifth at Madrid and State Center, sixth at the Spartan Early Bird, 11th at Roland-Story and 17th at the qualifying meet.

“Six of our 10 runners were first-time high school runners and five of them were our top five for the season,” Stalzer said. “Our girls really grew as competitors. We have gained a lot of experience and that will help us improve for next year.

Stalzer said the best meet for the girls was the Roland-Story meet, where several runners had their best times of the season. Callie Kohlwes came in 66th at that meet with a 5-kilometer time of 24:55, Katie Spalding was 79th in 25:32, Hannah Jamison 84th in 25:40, Maia Lundquist 105th in 26:30, Liliana Reyes 108th in 26:36, Emily Brinkman 136th in 28:27 and Sarah Brinkman 156th in 29:54.

Kohlwes led the Royal girls for most of the season, placing 14th at the home and ISC meets, 17th at Madrid and 73rd at the qualifying meet. Her top time was 23:43 at the conference meet.

Spalding took 18th at the home meet and her best effort was at Roland-Story and she also ran a 25:37 at conference. Jamison placed 15th at the home meet and her best time was 25:18 at the ISC meet.

Lundquist ended up 23rd at the home meet, her top time was at Roland-Story and she also ran a 26:40 at the conference meet. Reyes took 16th at the home meet, 24th at conference and 75th at the qualifying meet and her top times were 24:43 at the qualifying meet and 24:53 at conference.

Emily Brinkman came in 32nd at the home meet, her fastest time was at Roland-Story and she also ran a 28:28 at conference. Sarah Brinkman took 30th at the home meet and her best effort was 28:17 at the qualifying meet.

Mea Skinner and Emily Cerka also ran some varsity. Skinner placed 51st at the Spartan Early Bird in 37:13 and Cerka 42nd at Madrid in 36:42.

“I think the girls grew the most in understanding who they should be competing against, be it someone on our team or on another team,” Stalzer said. “Our racing got better as the season went on.”

Emily Brinkman was the only senior runner for the Colo-NESCO girls. Emma Stalzer was also a senior, but she didn’t run.

“With having so many underclassmen coming back that are our top seven I am excited about the next season and what these girls will accomplish,” Coach Stalzer said.

A big bright spot both teams shared was getting to host a meet for the first time in a long time at the Dakins Lake Park near Zearing on Oct. 3.

“I am very proud of all the people who helped make it possible from Story County Conservation and Ranger Danny Simcox for allowing us to host a meet at Dakins Lake,” Stalzer said. “I am proud of the Colo-NESCO administration for supporting the idea of hosting a meet; the Zearing, McCallsburg, and Colo Fire Departments helping park cars and the Zearing First Responders for being at the finish line to aid any runners and the parents and community members for all their help.”