Nevada boys aim to defend HOIC cross country championship this fall: Cubs return five runners

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune
Junior Owen Freeman is the top returning runner for the Nevada boys' cross country team entering the 2021 season.

The Nevada boys' cross country team brings back five experienced runners as it looks to defend its Heart of Iowa Conference championship in 2021.

The Cub boys defeated Greene County by 25 points to win last year's HOIC meet held at Saydel High School. With the return of Owen Freeman, Carter Holland, Rhett Harter, Nick Frideres and Rowan Steele they will be full capable of doing it again at Jewell in October.

"We have a young and hard-working team this fall," Nevada head coach James Mills said. "We believe we can defend our championship at the HOIC meet."

Freeman, a junior, is the top returning runner for Nevada. He placed second at last year's HOIC meet and his best 5-kilometer time was 17 minutes, 44 seconds at the 3A state qualifying meet in Pella.

Holland enters 2021 as a sophomore. He placed seventh at last year's HOIC meet and ran an 18:05 at the qualifying meet.

Harter is also heading into his sophomore season. In 2020 he placed eighth at the conference meet and ran an 18:04 at the qualifying meet.

Frideres joins Freeman as a junior leader for the Cubs this season. In 2020 Frideres took 16th at the conference meet and completed the qualifying meet in 19:14.

Steele will be a sophomore this season. As a freshman he took 20th at the HOIC meet and finished the qualifying meet in 19:09.

"I'm excited to see what sort of growth our boys will show after this summer of mileage," Mills said. "Last year we were very concerned about COVID-19 quarantines through contact tracing.  This year, however, I'm looking forward to more team-building events and fun outside of practices and meets."

The top varsity newcomers for Nevada in 2021 will be senior Marcus Nelsen, sophomore Frank Engstrom and freshmen Brian Rohde and Ryan Wessels.

Mills gave special recognition to Engstrom for putting in 250 miles over June and July.

"We have a pack of solid varsity runners, capable of earning medals at many meets," Mills said. "We don't have that one all-star that is competing to win at every meet — yet. It can be a challenge to qualify for state without having at least one individual qualifier."

Mills said he is looking forward to the Mike Carr Invitational in Huxley Sept. 13. That is Nevada's third meet of the season after the Hampton-Dumont-CAL Invite and Pella Invitational and it should give the team a good early indicator of what it is capable of accomplishing.

Nevada is also looking forward to hosting the Nevada Invitational Sept. 27. That meet was moved from Hickory Grove Park to the Indian Creek Country Club in Nevada.

The big HOIC meet in Jewell takes place Oct. 11. Nevada also runs at Humboldt Sept. 20 and North Polk Oct. 4. 

This year's state qualifying meets will take place Oct. 20 and the state meet is Oct. 29 at the Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge.

We are thankful to be returning to some normalcy after last year's COVID-related modifications," Mills said. "We will see how things shape up after our first meet."