GRINNELL — Newton’s boys’ cross country team has finished in the top half of both of its meets so far this season.
But that’s not good enough when the expectations are to clinch a berth into the state meet later this fall.
Seniors Jackson Mace-Maynard and Treycen Garton ran toward the front Tuesday during the Grinnell Invitational, but Newton boys head cross country coach Steve Weeks wants the rest of his varsity roster to move closer to his top two runners.
“Our fourth-place finish was a good one, but we have great potential,” Weeks said. “To realize our potential, we need our runners who finished third through seventh on the team to start separating from the pack and start chasing the leaders.”
The Class 3A No. 20 Cardinals finished fourth out of 11 full teams at a sunny Ahrens Park on Tuesday. Newton was four points better than Little Hawkeye Conference rival Grinnell.
Class 3A No. 10 Carlisle and 2A No. 4 Williamsburg both scored 74 points at the top of the team standings. Carlisle won the team title because it had a faster sixth runner.
Class 2A No. 10 Des Moines Christian (80) had the top two finishers in the boys’ 5K race and was six points back in the team standings for third. Newton (126) and Grinnell (130) rounded out the top five.
Mace-Maynard, who is ranked 21st in 3A, finished third overall with a time of 17 minutes, 16.7 seconds. Garton came in fourth with a time of 17:22.6.
Class 2A No. 3 Carson Houg of Des Moines Christian won the race in 16:19.9 and fourth-ranked Aaron Fynaardt of Des Moines Christian was the runner-up in 16:21.8.
Mace-Maynard and Garton both finished before 2A No. 8 Harrison Garber of Williamsburg and 2A No. 26 Sam Rich of Williamsburg.
“Jackson and Treycen continue to dance in the 1-2 spot and continue to drop their times,” Weeks said. “They are still a ways off their personal records of last year, but we have yet to peak for this year.”
The Cardinals’ final five varsity runners were separated by about 45 seconds.
Sophomore Landon Menninga was 39th overall in 19:31.6. Senior Derek Beiner took 43rd in 19:45.2 and junior Jared Smith was the final counting runner in 46th with a time of 19:46. Junior Collin Buchli was 48th in 19:51.2 and junior Leo Friedman crossed the finish line in 58th with a time of 20:13.2.
“There is a sizable gap between our second and third runners on the team and our team success relies on closing that gap,” Weeks said. “There is no Newton state qualifying for the whole team if we cannot do that.
“I’m pleased with the progress, but we cannot be content with where we are and what our goals are this season.”
Lynnville-Sully also competed on Tuesday but did not have enough runners for a team score.
Junior James Gruver led the Hawks in 28th with a time of 19:12.1. Junior Zach Morningstar ran in front of Gruver for most of the race before finishing 36th in 19:27.9.
Juniors Gentry Walston (22:43.3) and Evan Fikse (25:17.9) were 78th and 83rd, respectively.
“With three races in a week, the high school begins their competitive season with a tough stretch,” L-S cross country coach Darin Arkema said. “However, the races give a good measure of where everybody is at, and we can focus our training based off what we see in those races.”
After Grinnell, the rest of the field included South Tama County (142), Benton Community (171), Cedar Rapids Xavier (193), Knoxville (206), Bondurant-Farrar (252) and Vinton-Shellsburg (265). Belle Plaine did not have a full team.
Notes: Newton’s Cole Walter finished 20th in the JV race with a time of 20:25.6. “We are seeing the rise of Cole Walter as he inches closer to varsity times,” Weeks said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see him earn a spot sometime this year.”