KALONA — Opening the 2014 cross country season in cooler temperatures Tuesday, Lynnville-Sully’s runners turned in good times for the first meet of the season.
The Hawk girls finished seventh as a team with 182 points at the Iowa Mennonite Invitational. Muscatine narrowly edged Iowa City High for the girls’ championship, scoring 35 points to 36 points. Cedar Rapids Jefferson was third with 92 points.
Canyon Kuhlman turned in the top individual performance for Lynnville-Sully. The junior claimed 13th in the boys’ varsity race, running the 5K in 18 minutes, 22 seconds. The Hawk boys did not have a varsity team score.
Lucas Jones placed 52nd in 21:42. Connor Fraker and Nic Lirio went 63rd and 64th, respectively, in 22:54 and 23:03.
“A state qualifier last year, Canyon showed tonight that he’s put in the work through the summer to be better this season and try to earn a return trip to state this season,” said Darin Arkema, Lynnville-Sully head coach. “He was just over a minute faster on this course than a year ago, and looked strong the whole race. I know he’s focused to do what is necessary.”
Arkema said Jones, a sophomore, ran well while Fraker, senior, was back competing in cross country after not running last year. Arkema said the two boys should have their confidence boosted by the showing in the first meet.
“Nic gave everyone a scare at this meet last year as he went down during the race unconsciousness and spent the night in the hospital. Great to not only see him finish the race tonight but look pretty good. He is stronger and in better shape than last year, combined with the experience from last year and he should have a strong second season as a sophomore,” Arkema said.
Lynnville-Sully’s freshmen Jared Bassett and Brett Maasdam ran in the junior varsity boys’ 5K race. Bassett finished 111th in 30:14 and Maasdam placed 114th in 32.:08.
Arkema said the two freshmen had real strong showings for their first high school race. He said Bassett and Maasdam showed improved times over the team’s time trials run in the first week of practices. Arkema said when they get more experience with the 5k race distance and get stronger in practices, their performances will just keep getting better.
THE HAWK GIRLS were led by senior Cori Rice, who finished the varsity girls’ 4K in 18:35 for 22nd. Sophomore Haley James was Lynnville=Sully’s No. 2 runner in the meet, crossing the finish line in 44th place in 20:46.
Madison Rasmusson, a senior, led a closely contested foursome for the Hawks. Rasmusson ran 50th in 21:11 followed by junior Kasiah Ehresman in 56th at 21:24, sophomores Alexis Hardenbrook in 60th at 21:49 and Kristine Jaennette in 62nd at 21:58.
“Cori was a few seconds faster tonight than she was on this course last year, and we’re going to need her to continue working hard to improve and be a leader for this team,” Arkema said. “Newcomer Haley James was our second finisher. She’s a sophomore, but in her first season of cross country. I’ve seen a lot of good things from Haley early in the season.”
Arkema said Rasmusson is getting back up to speed in cross country this season after competing in two fall sports in the past. Ehresman was hampered with sinus issues Tuesday, Arkema said.
“Kasiah will perform better when healthy. Alexis ran a little faster this year in this race than last year. Kristine didn’t compete in this race last year because of illness. We’re going to need both of these girls to step up and fill some holes from graduation,” Arkema said. The Hawk girls qualified for state as a team a year ago.
Arkema said he was pleased overall with the teams’ performances in the first meet of the season. He said Lynnville-Sully competed Tuesday without some people, who will get into action as they get in better shape.
Lynnville-Sully’s girls and boys compete in the Pella meet Saturday at Central College.