Warrior cross country team performs well against tough competition

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Allie Mussman ran a season best time at the Jesup Invitational last week. (Photos by Bev Hamann)

Brayden Finley ran a personal course record and a season best.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register

The Central cross-country team took part in the Jesup Invitational this past week, performing well against what assistant coach Martha Bauder said was “extremely tough competition.” 

The tough competition began in the varsity girls’ race, where stalwarts Hannah Asche finished 20th and Delaney Scherf came in 40th, out of 131 total runners. Asche won a medal, and both girls ran season best times. 

But it wasn’t enough to overcome the assembled field of talent. As a result, the team finished 13th out of 20 teams with a score of 320. Jesup, the winners of the team competition, scored 110 points. 

However, all the runners, not just Asche and Scherf, ran best times. Allie Mussman ran a season best, while Taylor Moser and Jaydin Dettman ran career bests. Accounting for the results, Central faced “girls who are currently rated in the top of their class size in the state [and] all but one team who beat us is currently rated in the top 15 to 20 at the state level,” according to Bauder. 

On the JV squad, Haley Mueller, who ran a season best time, finished 22nd out of 125 total runners. She was the only JV girl to finish in the top 25. The other members, Maria Medberry (32nd), Mylee Wingert (55th), Madylen Gregerson (60th), Eva Embretson (76th), Maci Kluesner (85th) and McKenna Jaster (87th), also ran season or career best times. 

The team finished fifth out of 12 complete teams with a score of 188, as Dike New-Hartford won with a score of 49. 

As for the varsity boys, out of 156 runners, Corey Weber was the highest Central finisher at 68th, with a personal course record and season best time of 19:17. Brayden Finley (82nd) also ran a personal course record and a season best, while teammate Parker Vaughn finished 144th. 

“The course and the weather couldn’t have been better for running for this meet—cool temps, no wind and a flat, fast course. On the girls’ side, we continue to work on narrowing down our spread between our top five runners, which still stands at over three minutes. If we can get that down to more like two minutes or less, that will really help our chances to be more competitive at our conference and district meets in a few weeks,” Bauder said. “On the boys side, Brayden Finley and Corey Weber were close to going under 19 minutes and should have that be a goal in the meets to come, while Parker Vaughn, who is a new junior this year, will be working to get his PR under 21.”

When it comes to the junior high teams, the girls were led by Reese Berns, who finished 34th out of 132 runners, while teammates Keeley Curran (51st), Layla Embretson (73rd) and Alexis These (96th) helped the team finish in 13th place out of 16 teams with a score of 208, which was 164 points behind the winners, Center Point-Urbana. 

The biggest story line for the junior high runners was the absence of star Gavin Holst, who is nursing some hip soreness and was unable to run. With Holst sidelined, the junior high boys were led by Collin Jaster, who finished 39th out of 151 runners. Only two other team members finished within the top 100: Caden Fette (53rd) and Braxton Bormann (64th). Bryce Heller was 143rd and Michael White 148th. The team managed a 17th-place finish out of 19 teams with a score of 247. Center Point-Urbana won with a score of 39. 

Bauder added some context to these results. “This is always a fun meet for the junior high because they get a chance to run only 1.5 miles instead of the usual 2 miles. That, along with a flat, fast course, gives them a chance to test their overall speed in a different context,” she said. “It’s also nice to see how they compete against so many runners.”

“On the boys side,” she added, “they really competed well, especially since all our runners were seventh graders competing along with the seasoned eighth graders. Collin finished 13th out of 71 total seventh graders, Caden was 20th, Braxton was 28th, Bryce was 60th and Michael was 67th. I think it’s important for our runners to hear these comparisons because you can get a feeling of non-improvement when you finish in the middle of a race this big, but you actually did quite well. On the girls side, most of our runners were eighth graders, so the comparison I like to make is that of small class versus bigger class schools. Against 1A class schools, Reese finished ninth, Keeley finished 13th, Layla 18th and Alexis 26th.”

As for the future of the program, Bauder was optimistic. 

“I saw many of our runners having improved success in being able to push themselves closer to their physical limit for longer periods of time and also to have the confidence to plan ahead to a strong finish no matter how tired they feel in the middle of the race. We think we have the potential to be first or second in our conference for both boys and girls, so we’re working toward everyone knowing they will be needed in order for us to accomplish that goal,” she said.

The Warriors will continue chasing that goal at the South Winneshiek Invitational on Tuesday, Oct. 6. 

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