Stately Strides: Men set record of 23 straight; sophomore represents women

cc girlBy: Austin Anderson

Looking like a prototypical runner dressed in a grey sweatshirt and red sweatpants, Sam Schillinger sat at his desk soaking in a big round of applause from his fourth hour entrepreneurship class. The applause Schillinger received was not only for his 11th place individual finish but for the CFHS men’s cross country fourth place finish overall. In both circumstances Schillinger and the Tigers as a team were one spot away from being recognized on the podium. “It boosts my confidence knowing people know who I am and what I’ve done. It makes me feel really good,” said Schillinger, who set the CFHS record for the fastest time recorded by a sophomore.

Cedar Falls has a history of consistency in athletics. The football team just concluded its 16th consecutive winning season, and former head coach Pat Mitchell led the program for 47 seasons before stepping down this summer. Dick Marcussen has lead the the women’s swim team for the last 45 seasons, and they haven’t lost a regular season dual meet since 2007. The equal of these impressive records of consistency, however, resides in the 23 consecutive appearances in the men’s state cross country meet, an Iowa state record. “It’s a great achievement,” said senior Dylan Southall, who has been on the team for four seasons and ran at the state meet the last two. “It shows how great our team and coaching is, to be great for 23 straight years.”

Leading up to State, the third ranked Tigers called the meet “super meet two” because both of the teams that beat the Tigers in the MVC super meet, Linn-Mar and Cedar Rapids Prairie, would be the team’s stingiest competition. “We didn’t want to have all the hype of State get to us,” Schillinger said sporting his new mohawk. “We didn’t want to psych ourselves out so we stayed calm and said it was just like any other meet.”

Schillinger led the Tigers with an 11th place finish, and junior Ethan Smith joined Schillinger on second team All-State with a 16th place finish. The next two Tigers to cross the finish line both were dealt a difficult hand that they had to overcome. Junior Jake Hartman battled back from an injured IT band in his knee earlier this season to finish 21st, followed by Southall at 33rd who was slowed by anemia throughout his senior season.

Junior Isaac Smith, senior Hiram Marquez and junior Andrew Nurse were able to finish in 38th, 77th and 82nd place respectively, contributing to the team’s fourth place finish, just eight points away from being able to stand on the podium with a top three finish. “Like in life, in athletics what you really look back at is did you do everything you could do,” head coach Troy Becker said. “This team and those individuals did everything they could to have the success that they had.”

Both seniors Southall and Marquez are leaving behind a team that returns four of their top five varsity runners and will be poised to compete once again in 2015, but Becker understands the value those two brought to his program. ”The entire senior class, especially those two, have done a great job setting the tone and providing the leadership,” he said. “The program reflects its senior class most years, and the success we’ve had this year is a direct reflection of those guys.”

With the return and off season improvement of the steady Nurse, emerging Isaac and Ethan Smith and getting a full healthy season out of Hartman to join Schillinger, the men’s cross country team will be showered with plenty more applause in its future.

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