ANKENY — Rain, a bit of a wind and a cool late fall temperature greeted runners at Saturday’s Iowa Association of Track Coaches’ Senior All-Star Cross Country meet.
“It was very rainy and muddy but it was super fitting weather for the season we had — weather-wise,” Newton High senior Rachel Rhoads said of the meet. “I really had fun at this meet and met a lot of neat people.”
Going out with her best-ever race, Rhoads set a new NHS girls’ record for the 5K on Saturday. She ran the course on the DMACC Ankeny campus in 19 minutes, 23.8 seconds, finishing 15th and earning a medal.
Rhoads ran a 19:45 as a freshman to set the school record until she broke it on Oct. 4 on the same course she ran on Saturday. Her previous school record was 19:32.
Rhoads also was named to the IATC 2018 All-Academic Cross Country team. Those honors are earned by seniors with a 3.8 or higher grade point average, 28 or higher composite ACT score and top 30 at state qualifying.
“Rachel went out to have fun with her peers and that’s exactly what she did,” Newton girls’ head coach Rachelle Tipton said. “With about 200 meters to go, I knew a personal record was within reach and it was exciting to see her go for it and get it.”
Rhoads was on the East team, which lost to the West team by two points, 27-29. Emma Lucas of Bedford led the West to victory, winning the race in 17:59.3. The top East finisher was Cassidy Ihns of Crestwood in 18:31.5 for third place.
“I really like that course. We ran there in October for the Ankeny Centennial meet and I had my personal-best time there in that race,” Rhoads said. “I was pretty confident going into Saturday’s race although I hadn’t been able to train as I would have liked to because of an injury.”
The hip injury prevented Rhoads from training hard going into the Senior All-Star race but she said she thought it was meant to be that way. It allowed her to be fresh for the race.
“I’m so glad I had the opportunity to participate in this meet. I was relaxed and there was no pressure on me so I just went out and ran. I had fun with it,” Rhoads said. “I know districts doesn’t make the season but it would have been a hard race to end on.”
Rhoads had hoped to qualify for the Class 4A state meet as a senior. She had gone to the Class 3A state meet as a sophomore but health issues held her back her junior season.
Rhoads had come back with a strong senior season. It ended disappointingly for her as she did not have the race she planned at the 4A state qualifying meet on Oct. 18 at Marshalltown.
“After the disappointment of the district meet — not meeting my goal to qualify for the state meet — I was happy to go out with a good race,” Rhoads said. “Saturday’s meet was a celebration of all the seniors and it was fun to run with girls from other schools. We were on teams — East and West — as well as running for ourselves.”
Rhoads said it was the most fun she had running a cross country meet.
“It was a great way to end a great season and career,” Tipton said of Rhoads’ final race. “I’m proud of all she has accomplished.”
Rhoads is on to Newton High girls’ basketball this week.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at
641-792-3121 ext. 6535