Runners Up: Men finish 2nd at state cross country, women take 11th

By: Zuhayr Alam

The culmination of a summer of excruciatingly hard work took place on a cold and wet Saturday morning at a golf course in Fort Dodge.

With the ground damp from the early morning’s rain, the women took off from the starting line at 11 a.m. After around 30 minutes, the results were in. Lead by junior Cassidy Christopher with a time of 19:24.9, the team finished 11th with a score of 246. What is even more encouraging for the women’s side is the fact that the whole State team will return next year.

Head Coach Donald Williams said he is proud of the team.

“The season went very well, and we accomplished our main goal, which was to qualify for State and compete once we were there. This group has worked very well together, and they didn’t care who got the credit as long as the whole team does well,” Williams said. “We will definitely miss our senior class. They demonstrated outstanding leadership, work ethic and were able to bring the team closer together in a way that we hadn’t seen in awhile.”

Williams looks forward to next season.

“With all of our seven varsity runners coming back next year, along with two outstanding freshman coming on board, we are looking to get a top three finish at State next year,” Williams said. “To accomplish that, we will need to pay our dues this summer.”

At 11:30, right after the women’s race, the gun sounded for the men to take off. Directly following a tense race, unofficial scorekeepers scrambled to try and predict what would later be confirmed: the Tigers finished second, 10 team points behind Dowling Catholic High School.

The team was lead by junior Sam Schillinger with a time of 15:50.2, who finished third overall, missing the top spot by a mere 4.9 seconds. Following closely behind him were seniors Isaac Smith and Ethan Smith who finished eighth and 15th respectively. The three made it to First Team All State.

Head Coach Troy Becker is very happy with the season.

“It was a fantastic year,” Becker said. “The guys were able to win seven meets, including Districts, and were runners up at State.”

Becker will miss the seniors in the coming years but has high hopes for the underclassmen.

“This group of seniors really supported each other and the team as a whole. It was a really easy year to coach because so many of them have come up through our program and understood what was expected. In many cases, they set a tone for a very positive atmosphere,” Becker said. “Next season, we will really need a lot of young guys to step forward and be willing to put in the work that is needed.”

Junior Josh Timm agrees with Becker.

“With all the seniors gone next year, the team is going to be in need for others to step up. The training and offseason preparation will be key in order for us to have success next year,” Timm said. “The seniors provided a representation of what earning your success through dedication and hard work looks like. They personally served as great leaders and motivators for our team.”

Senior Jake Hartman will miss cross country.

“My biggest take away is that while it is really important and we train hard all year long, it is still just a sport. You can’t get so wrapped up in it that it gets you down,” Hartman said. “To be given the opportunity to play a sport, any sport, and to be able to do so in Cedar Falls, is a real blessing, and you really can’t take that for granted. It’s not life or death; we have it pretty darn good here. It’s just a sport, and all you can do is your best.”

Hartman also had that unique experience of running for his father, biology teacher Jeff Hartman, who is also the assistant coach for the team.

“These last four years running under my dad have been really special. Not only is he a great coach from the training standpoint, but he is also a really good motivator. I learned far more things about life from him than I did about training. I am definitely blessed to have the opportunity to hang out with my dad every day after school, and we really shared a bond through cross country,” Hartman said. “I don’t think many people get that same opportunity, and I am incredibly grateful for the last four years of running with him.”

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