Cross country is an individual sport and a team sport. Newton’s girls squad has the potential of a good mix of individuals to make a good showing in meets as a team.
Leading the Cardinals is sophomore Grace Coen, who is the defending Little Hawkeye Conference girls’ cross country champion. Coen qualified for the 2012 Iowa State Class 4A Cross Country Meet and finished 25th, running the 2.5-mile distance in a season’s best time of 14 minutes, 46 seconds.
Also returning for the Cardinals are juniors Anna Barr and Hailey Coy and sophomore Amber Knight. These four runners provide a solid core for the Newton girls for the 2013 season.
The Cardinals are under the direction of former NHS standout Rachelle Tipton. Tipton moved from being a volunteer assistant coach to the girls’ head cross country coach this season. She ran cross country and track for Newton, qualifying with the NHS cross country team for the 2005 4A state meet.
Tipton went on to have a strong running career at Central College in Pella. She competed in cross country, plus ran the 400-meters and 800-meters for the track team.
“Grace was our No. 1 runner last year and she’s looking strong again this season. Anna and Hailey are our team captains,” Tipton said. “Our returners will be our leaders and are coming into the season with confidence.”
Tipton is also confident. She said she sees the potential for team contention in meets this season for the Cardinals.
“I’m excited that we have a group of runners that will give us good pack running in meets and allow us to contend for team honors in meets and in the conference,” Tipton said.
Coen, Coy, Barr and Knight led the Cardinals to third place at the Little Hawkeye Conference meet last year. Coy finished 19th with Barr and Knight in 21st and 22nd.
Junior Autumn Hunt and sophomore Sara Cook are expected to be up there in that pack. Hunt placed 28th and Cook was 39th in the conference meet. Senior Haley Doland is a solid performer for the Cardinals. The other senior of the team is Marianna Ulrey.
Other members of the squad are junior Marissa Modlin, sophomore Amanda Laube and freshmen Michaella Cope, Ellie Horn, Jordyn Soule and Megan Van Dalen.
Newton opens the cross country season Thursday, Aug. 29, in the Gilbert Invitational on the Iowa State University cross country course in Ames. The meet begins at 5:30 p.m.