June 19, 2024

Cardinal duo secures spot in state XC meet

Menninga, Doland finish side-by-side at Class 3A state qualifier

Landon Menninga 
Javin Doland

PELLA — Landon Menninga expressed vocally his frustration with finishing one spot off a state berth last fall.

Coming up short gave the Cardinal senior plenty of motivation this season, and not even a lot of sleepless nights in the offseason would hold him back on Wednesday.

Menninga ran in the top 15 throughout the entire boys’ 5K race at Pella Sports Park and advanced to the state meet next week for the second time in his career.

Lance Zaabel
Jesus Murillo

Menninga will be joined in Fort Dodge by his teammate, Javin Doland, who was one spot behind Menninga at the finish line.

“It was a big motivator for this year, but it was torture this entire last year waiting to try again,” Menninga said about coming up short last fall. “There was a lot of sleepless nights thinking about it.”

“But this feels amazing. If I would have been behind Javin and still 15th, I would have been OK with it, but I knew passing him would make me feel a whole lot better.”

Menninga’s 14th-place finish came with a late pass of Doland in the final few meters. His time was clocked in a personal-best 16 minutes, 51.77 seconds. Doland ended up 15th in a career-best 16:52.25.

“I’m exhausted and I have a bit of a stomach ache, but that’s usually how I feel after a good race,” Doland said. “I knew about where I was with about 800 left. When I hit the finish line, I had no idea. I was a little ticked off he passed me at the end there.”

Presley Arnold

The Cardinals came up one spot short of qualifying as a team. The boys’ field featured four ranked teams and six ranked runners.

Class 3A No. 2 Pella won the meet with 21 points. The talented Dutch squad put four in the top five, five in the top 10 and seven in the top 20 to claim the district championship.

Class 3A No. 7 Washington was the runner-up with 77 points. Class 3A No. 11 Clear Creek-Amana was the third and final team qualifier with 86. Newton finished fourth with 118, while 16th-ranked Fort Madison was fifth with 122.

Clear Creek-Amana had just one runner in the top 15, but the Clippers placed five in the first 22 positions. The Cardinals’ five scoring runners were in the top 35.

“What a great finish to a season, about as good as it can get being just short of a state qualification,” Newton head boys cross country coach Steve Weeks said. “But so few teams get to do that.

“I’m beyond excited for Landon and Javin. They have earned this privilege to run at state.”

Christian Buchli
Presley Arnold

The top three teams and the top 15 individuals in each state qualifier advance to next week’s state meet in Fort Dodge. The boys’ field featured three of the top five ranked runners in 3A.

The rest of the 12-team field included Oskaloosa (169), Mount Pleasant (178), Knoxville (193), Harlan (248), Perry (287), Fairfield (289) and Keokuk (381).

Class 3A No. 1 Caanan Dunham of Pella won the boys’ race in 15:31.77 and third-ranked Micah Rees of Washington was the runner-up in 15:48.4.

Menninga is back at state after qualifying as a sophomore. Doland will get his first chance to run the course at Lakeside Municipal Golf Course.

“After last year’s race where Landon was edged out of qualifying by a fraction of a second, it was good to get him back,” Weeks said. “There hasn’t been a moment in a year where Landon didn’t think of that race. And Javin has worked very hard to get to where he is. He’s matured so much as a student and athlete you just love to see it happen, and I don’t think we’ve even seen the best of Javin yet.”

Asher Wood

Newton’s five scoring runners all posted career-best times. Lance Zaabel was 24th in 17:29.23, Jesus Murillo finished 31st in 17:48.1 and Asher Wood came in 34th in 17:54.48.

Christian Buchli (18:08.09) and Presley Arnold (18:23.84) were non-scoring runners in 40th and 47th, respectively.

“I’m very sad the season must come to an end for the rest of the team, but it’s bittersweet because a fourth-place finish is amazing by many teams’ standards,” Weeks said. “But here at Newton, we have built a culture where missing out on state is a disappointment. I’m so proud they came so close and even beat a ranked team in Fort Madison.”

Menninga said he went as far as making a Google document of everyone’s season-best times and compiled the list to see where he could realistically finish.

He had himself handicapped to come in around 15th. And not being at the top of the Cardinals’ lineup for most of the year did put added stress on his final season.

“I was going to follow something like that, but as soon as the gun shoots, it’s all just like go like crap,” Menninga said.

Landon Menninga

Doland’s race strategy changed a bit this fall. He purposely went out slower than others with the hopes of building up and running negative splits.

“I tried something new this year with my strategy and it worked out pretty well for me,” Doland said. “I always try to run with Landon. I want to make sure I can see the back of his head if I’m behind and then it’s just whoever has that dawg in him.”

Notes: Doland said he knew pretty early in the season that reaching the state meet was possible. “I felt really good after the first few meets,” Doland said. “My diet, my sleep and my habits were all good and I felt like that would carry me and it started pretty early in the season.” … While Menninga advanced to state, a few other seniors’ careers ended short of the ultimate goal. “I want to thank the massive senior class for a great season, and a heartfelt congratulations to Presley Arnold, Jesus Murillo and Asher Wood as they ran their last race tonight. Their impact on this program goes beyond any words I can come up with. They will be leaving behind some pretty big shoes to fill. It’s truly amazing where this team has gone over the past few years, culturally and performance-wise. These guys have helped build a program that’s elevating running in this community.”