Nevada girls looking to overcome big loss with strong balance: Cubs to run without Meinecke

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune
Junior Bridget Cahill is one of the top returning runners for the Nevada girls' cross country team entering the 2021 season.

The Nevada girls' cross country team are counting on a nice blend of veteran runners and new talent to try and make up for the loss of its top runner entering the 2021 season.

Last year freshman Tori Meinecke became Nevada's first individual state qualifier since the girls went to a 5-kilometer race in 2015, placing 44th out of 131 runners in Class 3A. But Meinecke won't be able to compete her sophomore year after suffering an ACL injury last spring during soccer.

"Our biggest challenge will be filling a role left open with injury to our top runner from last season," Nevada head coach Shawn Crain said. "Her recovery is just starting and she's coming along well. She is really a positive influence for the team by being there at practice to help out. We really plan on her returning full strength and pretty excited to compete next season."

Fortunately for Crain, he does have three experienced runners coming back in juniors Bridget Cahill and Natalie Barber along with senior Briar Crain. Junior runner Tatum Hendricks is working her way back from injuries to compete in 2021.

Cahill placed 21st at last year's Heart of Iowa Conference meet and her best time of the season was 23 minutes, 36.69 seconds at the Class 3A qualifying meet in Pella. Barber's fastest 2020 time was 24:39.26 and Crain ran a 25:38.05.

Sophomore Lynze Geerdes and freshmen Ava Vanderhayden, Avery Anderson, Evelyn Anderson and Aubrey Thompson are running well at preseason practices according to Crain. 

"I'm always excited to see our new runners that join the team," Coach Crain said. "The freshman group is pretty nice along with some new upperclassman runners that came in ready to work. But I also like to see our returning runners and what they have done for off season work coming in and making gains from the previous season."

The two new upperclassmen joining the team this year are seniors Tessa Borwick an Savannah Skaggs. 

"The biggest surprise so far early on is the addition of two new upperclassmen that have been running strong," Coach Crain said. "Tessa and Savannah have been valued additions to the squad. They have strong backgrounds in competition with other sports throughout their high school careers. I know they will be strong competitors every race they start."

Nevada opens the season this Thursday at the Hampton-Dumont-CAL Invitational. The Cubs host the Nevada Invitational Sept. 27 at the Indian Creek Country Club in Nevada and the HOIC meet is Oct. 11 at the Jewell Golf and Country Club. The Cubs also run at Ballard, Pella, Humboldt and North Polk.

"This year we will be looking forward to every meet on our schedule," Coach Crain said. "There are a lot of opportunities for this squad to prove themselves before conference and the qualifying meet. Once those come around I'm sure we will be ready and excited for the challenge."

The Hampton-Dumont-CAL Invite is set to begin at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Maynes Grove near Hampton.